I'm About To Graduate—Here's Why I'm Terrified

Graduation. The word itself makes my mind jump to a million things all at once. I should be excited about decorating my grad cap. I should be excited about taking pictures with friends, or how I’m never going to have a test to study for again, but when I think of graduation none of these things come to my mind.

Some days I want to talk about it and some days I don’t. I never know if, when talking about it, I’ll be calmly able to discuss my future, or if I’ll burst into tears about how terrifying it is. Every day my opinion changes on how I feel about the topic. The thing is since my career path is one that doesn’t require grad school, I realized a large chapter in my life is finally ending after sixteen years of being a student. Now, I’m free to do whatever I want without the pressure of studying or having to wait for winter and summer break to plan a vacation. But it also comes with the knowledge that I will be moving away from my friends and family. That I will no longer be in Orlando because UCF was my only reason for living here. 

I have this awful tendency that when I get scared about the future my mind wanders to the past. Suddenly, it’s like a movie montage of every "first" I ever had in college plays right in front of me. Meeting my first group of friends, my first football game, my first party, my first class; all these memories rush out in front of me and for a split second, I want to jump right back into the beginning. Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get out of college. It was both the worst and the best time of my life, and I know the future is going to have so many amazing adventures.

But graduation anxiety feels exactly like being on top of a roller coaster. It’s like how at an amusement park, you talk all day about how you want to ride the biggest roller coaster, and you’re so pumped to do it. You’re going to ride this damn thing. But then, as soon as you’re strapped in and the tracks begin to rattle underneath you, your heart is in your throat, your palms are sweaty, and you think to yourself: Get me off this thing. I’m not ready. But it keeps pulling you higher and higher until you’re at the very top. You close your eyes and think, “Okay, one, two, three breathe,” and wait in anticipation for the drop.

That is the moment I am stuck in. I am suspended in midair waiting for this drop to happen. And the worst part is, I know once I do, everything will be fine. I’ll be free to live my life however I want, I can finally move and chase my dreams. But at this moment, stuck on the very top, on the very edge, I am very terrified.   

My advice to anyone else going through this: Find someone to talk to about it and talk about it to death. You can’t change the fact that your life is about to drastically change. Also, you’re not alone in this! It’s so natural to feel anxious about a huge shift in your life, but we’ll never progress if things don’t change, right? Just how after you’re done riding a roller coaster you feel invincible, you’ll feel the same way walking across that stage knowing how hard you worked for that diploma. Sure, everything is about to change, but it’s the beginning of your life, and you’re free to do whatever the hell your heart desires. Don’t fear the drop.  

Images: 1, 2, 3