I graduated from Colorado Mesa University in May, and it was bittersweet, to say the least. However, this blog isn’t about the strange rollercoaster of emotions that comes when you close a chapter; it’s about the confusing start of the one that follows.
After graduation, I woke up in a surreal state, I felt like I was on summer vacation, despite having the responsibility of finding a job and becoming an “adult.” I may be 22, but I still don’t feel like a grown-up. That should be a dead giveaway that I still have a ton of growing to do, by the way. I don’t think grownups call themselves grown-ups.
So there I was, eating leftover graduation cake the next day trying to figure out “what’s next?” Get a job? Travel? Get a job so that you have the money to travel? It was all very overwhelming, so I ate another piece of cake.
I was stuck in this limbo, without any real direction. I was coming up on probably my fourth panic attack in a week (my poor, unbelievably supportive boyfriend had to listen to each one) when I decided that I needed to stop thinking about the “next step.”
I realized that thinking about the next phase of my life as some sort of level I needed to pass on a video game is what was stressing me out. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this; I just need to be happy. And lucky me, I was already happy, so I was doing pretty well. Whatever came next in my life would come, so putting the pressure on myself to make it happen at that exact moment wasn’t going to make it come any sooner, or help me relax a single bit.
So I started trying to make small contributions to my future as often as possible. Apply for a job here, interview for one there and play with my cat for some mental relief. Breaking up my responsibilities helped. I was making moves for my future; I just didn’t need to do it all at once.
Most importantly, I made the decision to bet on myself, or as my sister calls it, going full pizza. I am young, fresh out of college and I don’t really have anything in my life figured out. None of that meant I wasn’t going to make it, though. I just had to believe I could and be patient. For anyone that knows me, patience is not my virtue, so this was probably the most difficult part of this phase.
And then this cool thing happened – I got a job. Not just any job, one that I really wanted, one that I went to school for. It happened when it was supposed to, regardless of any preconceived timeline I had mentally prepared for myself. I was starting to get a feel for how my life would look now that school is over. It didn’t look so bad.
As a disclaimer, I still have so much more to figure out about my life. I didn’t magically become a grown-up when I got a job. I did, however, get a little closer to what I picture adult Andi to look like. It felt good. So even though I still have a lot more learning and growing to do, being patient and not beating myself up over the timeline of my future has helped my happiness tremendously. I would like to think it’s helping me succeed, too. After all, I believe you get from this world what you give; meaning if you send out positive vibes the universe might just send a few back your way.
For any graduates that can relate to a single thing I have written, take a deep breath. No matter where you are at in this journey, you will get to your destination if you keep trying.
Keep making moves. Keep betting on yourself.