4 Reminders to Survive the Post-Graduation Blues
Post-grad life: One of the biggest transitions you will make as an adult. You're no longer a future professional, you are a professional. Or at least you’re hoping to be because, as of now, you have no clue what you want to be. To make things more difficult, you’re in the middle of an existential/quarter-life crisis during one of the most social times of the year. You swear if you hear “What are you going to do with your life?” one more time, you might never get out of bed again.
Sometimes (most times) we find that our post-grad life isn’t lined up the way we expected it to be. And that’s terrifying. We’ve had it drilled into our brains that we go to school, we graduate, we get a job and then hello, life begins. Except, life begins regardless of if we get that job or not. And sometimes the job we get, isn’t the one we want. Or the job we thought we wanted, isn’t all it was cracked up to be.
What the movies, media, and our parents don’t always tell us is that life is full of variables, and those variables are messy. There isn’t one standard track that we all have to follow in order to achieve success and happiness. So, how do you manage in the meantime without feeling like you’re being swallowed whole? Here are some reminders to help you feel less intimidated during this time.
1) You Are Not Alone
Seriously, you’re not. Post-graduation depression is very much a real thing and it affects more people than you know. Think about it. You spend the past four or more years of your life diligently working towards one goal, to get that diploma, just to leave college with only that - a diploma.
This is the time to set new goals for yourself. Part of the safety and stability you felt in college was that you had small goals (passing classes, learning something new, and so on) leading up to your ultimate goal of graduating. Think about what you want to achieve now and come up with a plan to make it happen. Create your own structure for yourself and set it on a timeline. Having that sense of purpose will give you something you can control, even when everything else feels chaotic.
2) Other People’s Successes Are Not Your Failures
Sometimes you’re able to have a job lined up, but for most of us, it might take a few months before that happens. Just because your friend, your enemy, or the one girl from that one group project get a job before you, doesn’t mean they're more talented or smarter than you. In fact, it really has nothing to do with you. The timing of your life is not reflected by the timing of others.
The reality is that just because someone got a job or gets to travel the world doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. Social media has become the highlight reel of what we want people to think about us. At the end of the day, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Take this time to detox and unplug. If it’s making you unhappy, you don’t need to see it.
3) Your Family Is Going To Give You Their Opinion...A Lot
Remember your senior year of high school when suddenly everyone had an opinion on what college you went to, or what your major was? It’s going to be like that but on steroids. Especially around the holidays when we are confronted with family in a much more frequent manner, you’re going to get a lot of questions and a lot of input that is probably neither helpful or uplifting. Take everything they say with a grain of salt. It’s tough to grit your teeth and bear it when your Aunt Roberta is telling you for the 874th time about how cousin Vicky just loves her job as an executive assistant at a Fortune 500 and how you really should just apply to more places. Smile, say thanks and move on from the conversation. Unfortunately, your family is going to be giving you their opinion for the rest of your life. Don’t let it phase you and bring you down.
4) You Are Calling The Shots
This probably the most liberating and terrifying fact of it all. You are 100 percent in control of what happens next. The best way to get out of a slump is to change your environment. Rather than seeing this time as scary, see it as the perfect time to figure out what you enjoy doing. You’re not “required” to do anything. Figure out what interests you, what makes you happy. Make time for your hobbies, working out, going out, or whatever else gets you excited. Having something you look forward to doing each week makes the week feel less mundane.
Remember, the situation you are in isn't permanent. You’re not going to be in this 'post-grad' feeling forever. You are going to question your choices, you’re going to think “what if…” a lot. Your path might not look as traditional as you originally anticipated and that’s okay. You’ll change your mind, you’ll grow and you’ll keep moving. Embrace this time rather than fearing it. This is the start of what’s going to be the rest of your life. Take control and make it the best you want it to be.