Why Graduating From University Doesn’t Have to be so Terrifying

Every time I mention to anybody that I’m in my last year of my undergrad degree, their automatic response is, “Oh, wow! What are your plans for next year?’ At first, I kind of felt attacked whenever this question was asked, especially when I barely knew the person who was asking. Like, why should the lady who threads my eyebrows once every two months get to know information about myself that I don’t even know? I realize that many of these people were just trying to make conversation, but it still took me some time to get used to the stress that came with this seemingly simple question. Eventually, I became okay with hearing this and even thinking about the inevitable end of my undergrad experience.

You’re still young

In the grand scheme of life, there is still so much you have yet to experience and accomplish. When I graduate, I will only be a mere 21 years old. I’ve realized that this doesn’t mean that I automatically need to be earning six figures, moving out and starting to live a “real” adult life. Thankfully, I have parents that are willing to take me back into their home until I figure out what my next steps are going to be. This is the time in your life where it’s okay to make mistakes, figure out where you want to be and what you want to be doing – and it’s better to do it now than later down the road when you have your own family and responsibilities to take care of.

What will be will be

While I do believe that it’s important to work hard for your goals and have methods in place to accomplish those goals, I truly believe that what is for you will never pass you. So, if things didn’t work out with that one post-grad program or job prospect, as much as it may suck in the moment, there are better things out there for you.

Last year, I tried so hard to get a summer job in the field I want to work in eventually and I failed miserably. I ended up staying in Waterloo and working as a barista for the summer which, at first, I kind of felt embarrassed by since all of my friends were working nine to five office jobs. I didn’t realize it at first, but in retrospect, I can see that the past summer had a huge impact on my confidence and independence, something I would have never learned if I had gone home and spent the summer working at a desk. It even led me to make close friendships with new people (which also kind of led to me writing this article right now) and gain a whole new group of friends. So yeah, don’t think rejection – think redirection.

It’s okay (maybe important) to take some time off

I think something a lot of graduating students don’t realize is that once you start working your full-time job, time off kind of becomes non-existent. Goodbye to four-month-long summers and 15 hours of class a week and hello to two weeks of vacation and 40-hour work weeks. Not only do I think it’s important to take some time off just to give your mind a break, but I also think it’s important to take the time to evaluate your options and figure out what path is really right for you. Spend some time doing the things you truly enjoy before you have to start living your new adult life.

The possibilities are endless

This is something that people can either find overwhelming or exciting. Yes, there are so many different options to choose from – but at the same time, there are so many different options to choose from! Nowadays, there are many different jobs in many different fields as well as a number of post-grad education programs available through various schools. Last year, I would have never thought of doing any sort of Master’s program in my life, but now it’s something that I’m definitely leaning towards doing in my future. I think it can be really exciting to think about how things may change for you within the next few years of your life and how you really have no idea what’s in store for you at the end of all of this. So, my advice – be open to new experiences and doing things that feel right for you, even if it’s not what you originally had planned.

You’ve accomplished a lot more than you think you have

Finally, and maybe the most important part, let’s just be proud of the fact that you finished your degree, despite all of the obstacles that you may have overcome. I feel like so many people overlook the fact that completing your degree is something to be proud of and automatically go to the thought of where they’re going to next. I know that there were many times throughout my university career where I didn’t know if I would make it to the end, but I did. Even with all of that, I’ve learned so much about who I am as a person and have gained so many skills and experiences that will guide me to where I want to go. So, before we all turn right to having an existential crisis, let’s just be happy for ourselves first.

As the final weeks of the semester are rolling out, I think it’s also important to appreciate the last few moments you have as a student and being close to your friends. Enjoy all of your “lasts” at university and get pumped for all of the things you’re about to do in your life – and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for a job well done!