Dear new graduate,
Only two short years ago, I was in your place. I vividly remember the bittersweet feeling of the occasion; the excitement for things to come, the butterflies in your stomach as you walk across the stage to collect that diploma your worked hard for years to achieve, the pride of being recognized for your achievements, the sadness of parting with your friends. It’s a time of celebration and a time of grieving. It’s a time of change. Ready or not, here comes the next big step in your life.
The last 13 years of your life have revolved around education. You woke up early to catch the bus, spent a long day in classes learning, did your homework, played some sports, went to bed, and then repeated it all the next day. These years were spent learning and practicing and growing up; they were spent becoming. You were becoming you, becoming an adult, preparing for the next chapter. Now it’s here. You’ve spent your whole life preparing, now it’s time to start living.
Whether you’re going to university or college or directly into the work force, these next few years have the potential of being your best yet. You’re now free. You’re an adult. You’re independent. You get to call the shots. You get to choose which direction you go next. Luckily, in addition to all this, the expectations are also lower than those put on more adultier adults. You’re not expected to have things figured out yet, nobody does. Grab the bull by the horns and take advantage of this.
You will be presented with countless opportunities, things you would’ve never even fathomed. If it seems interesting, say yes. If it scares you in a good way, say yes. If it challenges you, say yes. Get involved. Make your mark. Don’t be afraid of going outside your comfort zone and trying new things, it may be the best thing you ever did. When I was appointed to charity representative in my residence’s activity planning committee, I was so nervous! I had never held a position like that before. But, as the year went on, I became more and more comfortable with the job. I met new people and had lots of new experiences. I took a big risk but some of the most memorable moments from my first year were made because of that risk.
Since there is no fool-proof roadmap to how to live life successfully, you will most likely feel lost for a short (or long) while and that’s okay. You don’t need to know where you’re going just yet. It can be difficult because you’re going to meet all these people of the same age who seem to have their life put together perfectly but I’ll let you in on a little secret: they don’t. Chances are, someone is thinking the same thing about you. We all seem to think everyone has things figured out when we don’t. Use this to form bonds. Lean on each other. Embrace your community. Nobody will be judging you because you’re all in the exact same boat.
If you’re anything like me, you have probably tried your best to make a roadmap for the coming years and that’s great. I like planning and trying to know where I am going. But, don’t treat your plan like it’s a dictator over your life. You can vary from the plan and don’t worry about what other people will think if you do. This is your life. Focus on yourself. If you’re not happy, make a change. If you’re presented with a new, valuable, opportunity, take it. Plan but plan loosely.
These years are going to be stressful and sometimes overwhelming but they will also be fun and enlightening. You will most likely grow into a new person. That’s okay, that’s what this time is for. You’re going to realize who you truly are, what you truly value, what your priorities are. Give yourself room to grow and don’t resist it. Growth and change can be hard for some people and, if it’s hard for you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There will always be someone to help you through it.
Lastly, live every single day to the fullest of it’s potential. Smile lots. Laugh often. Learn. Have an open mind. Don’t get caught up in the miniscule petty details. Because life is so unpredictable, anything can happen. I didn’t expect for my life to change suddenly like it did. I’m so grateful that I spent everyday of my first year post-graduation living it to the max. I made memories in my first year that will last a lifetime. I hope you do too.