5 years ago, I graduated from Elon University.
The Timehop app has been rudely reminding me of this – and it’s not rude because it wasn’t a good memory or anything – but rude because of the way I looked in all the pictures.
Allow me to elaborate.
I need to understand a few things about this photo. Why am I sweating like a whore in church? Why hadn’t Vanessa Williams yet introduced me to the wonders of the Proactiv Solutions? Why hadn’t someone encouraged me to eat a few more salads instead of going to Cookout while drunk? All questions we may never know the answer to.
Well folks who graduated this past weekend at Elon, or who graduated anywhere really, I want to first congratulate you on such a huge accomplishment. All joking aside, college is a really insane and stressful time – not only are you expected to be academically successful, you’re suddenly navigating love, roommates, employment, internships, cover letters, freaking learning how to put a professional email together, all while also going through that awkward process that is the ages of 18-22. It’s a lot. So seriously, props to you guys.
You graduated, so now what?
- Your parents are going to be in really really really good moods and really proud of you. They’re going to send an email out to the entire family announcing your graduation. Cherish that because they’re totally gonna not care in a couple of years what you’re doing. My parents have not always been sure what state I was in, I’m gonna put it to you that way.
- Your relatives will hand you wads of money to start your new life with. Do NOT buy you and your friends shots with it because you will be feeling extra foolish mid-summer when you’re still kinda looking for a job. Take all of that cash, and put it away, just in case your end up on your butt a few months after graduation. Trust me.
- Make sure you keep in touch with those professors that really stuck out to you. I have cultivated relationships with two professors in particular who really made my education at Elon special. I’ve made two incredibly smart friends, and as a bonus, I feel as though, at least for those recommendation letters for graduate school, I had some strong folks to choose from. Make sure you thank them, and keep them close to you – they are always an incredible resource to have.
- It’s so tempting to relax by the pool for a month. Hey, you deserve it, right? But if you’re not going to travel or take a gap year, and you haven’t yet found a job, it’s really time to start looking. Even if you’ve got plans to head over to graduate school in the fall, there is nothing wrong with keeping yourself busy and making a little bit of cash until you move onto your next venture. Even if it’s a typical summer job, like at a camp, I would do it.
- Postpartum may set in. This is completely normal. 4 huge years of your life were building up to this. And now, it’s just done. You might be weepy and sad, and really find yourself yearning for any excuse to hang out with your old crew, which is fine. This is a really, really good time to start working on yourself, especially now that there’s a good chance you might have more free time than you did before. This definitely happened to me – I was hurting after I graduated for a number of reasons. It took me too long, but I got into crafting, writing, and eventually began teaching Zumba, running, hiking, lifting, and creating an identify for myself outside of Elon University.
- It’s time to create your own identity. You’re now a real grownup. You no longer have step practice or a cappella practice. You don’t have to write papers. Friends are not built into your every day – you have to actually work to begin and maintain friendships, as well as romantic relationships. There is no dining hall, no RA, and generally no free pizza on random nights. When you graduate is when it really begins. Who are you going to be?
Okay, that’s my commencement speech for all of you beauties that have graduated over the last few weeks, or are planning to do so.
**One last thing**
Discouraging things may happen over the next few months. You might not get an interview right away. Your college boyfriend, the one who you thought you might marry? It might not work out. The girls you could not be separated from may move to Texas and leave you behind. You feel like you have no friends. You’re in a new city. Whatever. Keep your head up because it gets better. Discouraging things can’t happen forever. Things will look up for you. So keep it up with the persistence, and make sure you keep your ears open to learn from those who have done it before you.