4 Things I Wish I Knew Way Before Graduating

It is the most surreal feeling declaring your candidacy for graduation. You've ran your progress check about a million times and now every category has a nice green check mark indicating that you're almost done! It's honestly quite inevitable to feel a mix of emotions. You're excited because you've worked so hard for so long to finally get that degree and now all the blood, sweat and tears are finally going to pay off. But at the same time...adulthood is just around the corner.

For me, I'm 24 and I have constantly felt like I should feel like an adult and begin acting like one by now. Despite living on my own dime, being in college and working as a server has always gave me a sense of "pause" on the whole adulthood aspect of life. But now that I'm graduating this quarter, conversations seem to always revolve around what comes next for me.

A few weeks ago I realized that when this month is over, I will be thrown into the real world and have to truly fend for myself. I can no longer fall back on the idea of being just a college student anymore. With that in mind, I've really been thinking about my time in college and all the amazing lessons I've learned throughout the past couple of years. Maybe this is just my way of putting off planning my full time career and approach to adulthood, but it made me realize a few things that I've learned:

1. Don’t focus on where you should be.

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This can be your relationship status, your academic life or even life in general. I can’t tell you how many times I would stress about being older than the average college student. And every time I would voice this concern to my friends, family or just about anyone, it would be met with “Who cares?” or “At least you’re getting it done and that’s what matters.” It took me a while to see this, but this is beyond true. Regardless if you need another quarter, another year or two or whatever it may be, what matters is that you are getting the experience that fits you and your life. Life is not a cookie cutter experience for everyone. Everyone else may seem to have found their life long partner, but that doesn’t make it feel any less okay to be single, 23 in college or just still trying to figure things out--at least for me personally.

2. Life is messy.

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Even though it seems like everybody’s life is so picture perfect, it is just that. Picture perfect. Perfect is this unattainable impossible goal that we always seem to strive for. It’s so important to remember that your first set of roommates might not end up being your favorite people in the entire world. Not every single piece of your puzzle is going to fit perfectly together because once you get into a routine for your schoolwork, your personal life might take a hit, or vice versa. And remember that is okay and actually very normal. Life is messy and we have to just take the challenges and make ourselves stronger and better for it.

3. Enjoy your time in college.

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I used to scoff whenever people would say that to me. I dreaded my entire college experience up until this academic year. I am a transfer student and hated being in community college because seeing my friends at a university, living up the full college experience made me envious of their life. I hated my first year at UCSB because I missed home and would travel between LA and IV every week. I wasn’t in the best living situation and let myself wallow in that constantly. But this year, I got to live with a friend and made some of my best friends here. Part of me wishes this wasn’t the end of my college career but all of me wishes I had put in the effort to enjoy college. Live carefree and enjoy all that IV has to offer. We are so fortunate to be able to go to school at UCSB and live in such a beautiful town. IV culture and location is unparalleled to any other college town. Enjoy every bit of it because before you realize it, your time here may be coming to end before you want it to.

4. Be true to yourself.

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Don’t cave to others just because you feel like you have to. Use this time to grow and be a better version of you rather than trying to be someone else. It’s important to learn and evolve and become a stronger, smarter, and better person. However, that is not to say that mistakes will be the end of the world. It is okay to make mistakes, but make them because you wanted to try something or you believed in something. Don’t let others push you in a direction that you don’t want to go in. Let yourself pull you in the right direction because you know what you want most and what’s best for you.