Transitions are extremely difficult. Especially ones where you go from doing the same thing almost everyday for roughly 20 years to… not anymore. It can be a shock to the system, and for many of us, a gateway to depression.
Newly graduated college students are often too afraid to speak up about post-grad blues, mainly because we spend so much time comparing our lows to other people’s highs which doesn’t help solve the problem and tends to make us feel even worse than we already do.
The first step to tackling this issue is to simply admit and accept where we are.
It’s okay to be sad, lost, confused and afraid after graduating college. You’re not alone. It’s healthy to take time to allow yourself to feel your emotions as opposed to suppressing them and pretending everything is perfect.
Since graduating, there are a few things I’ve learned to help keep me motivated and ready to conquer this new phase of life. For some other perspectives, I sat down with two of my creative and inspiring friends, Edelawit and Satchel. Both recent NYU graduates who have worked for such companies as Milk, MTV, Vogue and DROME mag, they have learned the art of owning their flaws throughout their transitions and have made the most of the present moment.
Here, they give us their best tips on overcoming post-grad hurdles and woes. So whether you’re about to graduate, or have recently graduated, may their wise words help you break out of that post-graduate funk.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Naturally, as an Aries, I struggle with patience. A month after graduating, the unending list of unhealthy desires started taking over; i.e., wanting the perfect job, the perfect furniture, etc. I had just graduated so why wasn’t I proud of myself? Why wasn’t I happy to have a bit of time to myself to reflect and relax? Journaling was something that helped me through this time. Through the practice of writing my thoughts and feelings down I realized I wasn’t celebrating myself enough and wasn’t counting my “small” wins. It’s important to congratulate yourself for what you are doing, rather than focus on what you are not doing. Self-sabotage is never the answer!
Edelawit agrees: “It’s important to at least have a month to do nothing and say to yourself, ‘Wow, I just did this thing! I just graduated.’ You need that time to relax, reflect and ask yourself what you want to do next.”
Satchel adds, “If you want to be an author, sit down and start writing. If you want to learn to code, take a class. After college, you have the world in front of you. The best thing you can do for yourself after graduating is to sit down and dream how you want your life to go.”
Giving your all to the present moment is what ultimately creates your ideal future and, most importantly, your current happiness. I’m not perfect at being present at all times, but helpful methods for me are meditating, yoga and simply making an effort to not worry or beat myself up over what I did or didn’t do. These thoughts only distract me from enjoying myself and ultimately create more anxiety. All we really have is the now, and accepting that will set us free.
Edelawit says, “By understanding my own autonomy and the free will I have at any given moment to change my life is important. Whether that’s buying a one-way ticket somewhere, or emailing mentors from a long time ago, understanding that I am in charge of navigating my own life is powerful.”
Satchel is able to stay present by “continually moving forward. I love downtime, but ultimately the best thing to overcome anxiety is to keep moving.”
LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION
It’s so easy to worry about what others think of you, especially after graduating, because everyone is on such different journeys. However, the best thing you can do for yourself is simply to listen to your inner voice. No matter how many voices and opinions surround us, we are the only ones who truly know what we need and want at the end of the day.
“It’s important to back away for a moment and take time to yourself — to not feel pressure to do or not do, or say or not say,” says Edelawit. “And then, when you feel ready, share your opinions with confidence.”
“Do what you want,” explains Satchel. “I’ve canceled many plans with friends because I wasn’t feeling up to being around other people. Your friends may get upset, but at the end of the day you have to do what’s best for you. Rest when you need to. Party when you need to. Everyone is on their own schedule. Let them live.”
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
It’s so easy to look at your peers and think, I wish I had that job or I wish I wasn’t still living at home. The list goes on and on and before you know it, you’ve dug yourself into a dark hole of anxiety and discontentment. But the reality is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and we all have our own individual issues that we have to battle — no matter what level of “success” we have reached. There’s no point in wishing we were in someone else’s shoes because we don’t know what other struggles and battles come with filling their role, or how much they had to sacrifice to be where they are. Your path and process of evolving will be uniquely your own, and you should allow that to sink in and excite you!
“We are conditioned to think that there is a particular way your life is supposed to happen,” Edelawit says. “You grow up, go to school, apply to college, get your first job, etc. When following this general system, it’s easy to worry and feel like you did something wrong. But you have to trust your own experience and your own capability to decide what you’re gonna do with your life.”