I Graduated College, Now What?

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PC: Hannah Darling

I’ve been a college graduate for 2 months now (“Yay!” but also “Oh no.”) It feels weird–part of me is still very much in denial, another part of me feels relieved, and another part of me can’t shake the feeling of some impending assignment I need to get done. Is this post-grad PTSD?

The first month was hard, but I’m getting used to this different pace of life.


Graduation Day

Reflecting back on graduation day–it was surreal. There’s honestly no better way to describe it. It felt like an end and a beginning. I saw my friends walk across the stage, snag their diplomas, and walk off into their future. Since Bethel is so small I knew about 75% of the people walking across the stage, and I was cheering for all of them. I was so extremely proud…Proud of us–we did it, we survived!

To top it all off, my sister flew in from out of state just to come for the day. I came into our usual lunch spot, and sat down to eat lunch with my family. As I looked through the menu I heard my mom say, “Oh wait, before we eat, we have a surprise for you”. I looked up to see my sister;s face peak out from behind a wall in the restaurant. I immediately screamed “NO!” because I was so shocked she came. I was convinced that neither of my siblings were going to be able to make it to graduation. And thus begun the tears and hugs because I was so happy to see her…

Side note: What makes it even better is that my mom captured all of my ugly crying/screaming candids on camera. I’m dreading looking at those photos.

All jokes aside, it was a wonderful day and I was filled with love and joy from everyone who came out to support me.

Just as graduation day was surreal, life after graduation has been surreal too, but in a different way. There are several things that have been running through my mind:

Restlessness

I’ve been dealing with a lot of restlessness. I didn’t have a job lined up after graduation, so I just planned on coming back home and figuring it out. So far I’ve been working full time as an office assistant doing data entry and scanning, very fun stuff. I am blessed to have this job to fall back on while I look for another job, nonetheless, I am restless. As much as I try to be patient, I feel anxious and antsy–thinking of all the things I wish I was doing, but also being unsure of what kind of job I should even look for. My future is somewhat elusive to me, and it’s frustrating when I’d love to have a plan for what’s next. I guess God is growing me during this season by allowing me to sit in the uncomfortable.

Purpose

I’ve lost all of my obligations–No classes to go to, no meetings to attend, no friends to meet up with on campus, no chapel to attend, no small group to be a part of, no internship to drive 30 minutes to… It does take a lot of weight off my shoulders, and makes my life more “relaxed”.

The thing is, I thrived in having responsibilities. I liked having multiple things going on. It gave me a sense of purpose.

As I’ve gained all this free time, I’m trying to get used to not having my purpose rest in all the things that I do. For so long my purpose lied in being a good student, a good friend, and a professional woman set up for life after college. It’s hard to get rid of those labels I put on myself, and create new ones. 

Culture Shock: Part 2

Since I’ve moved back home and I’ve been working in an office, the change of setting has been difficult. There is a sense of disconnect. In a lot of ways, this feeling faintly resembles how I felt when I came back from study abroad: Culture Shock: Adjusting to Life Back Home.

In a similar way, I’m experiencing post-grad culture shock. At Bethel, I created a life for myself, just like I did in Australia. I was surrounded by people my age who were going through similar things as me. People who I saw almost everyday, people who listened to my struggles as we walked through the highs and lows of the college experience.

I keep catching myself reminiscing about some of my favorite moments at Bethel– late night convos with roommates, late night Taco Bell runs, and late night power outages leading to deeper friendships

I’m starting to notice a pattern. Pretty much all of my favorite college memories occurred late at night haha.

However, I’m back in my hometown and it feels familiar… Yet I feel displaced. Uncomfortable. As much as I try to find my “fit” here, I feel as though I’m a piece that no longer fits in the puzzle. I’m definitely not the same person I was in high school. This place used to feel so natural to me, but now that I’ve changed, it doesn’t  feel the same anymore.

Career

I have no clear direction or end point I want to get to. Maybe its because of my major, maybe its because of my personality, maybe its because I’m interested in so many things… But I am struggling with nailing down what’s next. Every once in a while I daydream about becoming a therapist, writing for a magazine, teaching in another country…who knows what I’ll do.

I’m realizing I don’t necessarily have to have a plan, but I’d love to have an answer to everyone asking “What’s next?”, “What do you want to do?”, “Where would you like to work?”. Trust me, I’d love to know just as much as you. There are no clear-cut answers, so all I can do is sit in the ambiguity that is my life.

Success…

Is relative. It is so counter-cultural to say that, but I truly believe it. For me, being successful is growing in relationship with God and people, making others feel valued, and pursuing excellence in what I do whether its work, family, or relationships.

Although many people preach about money and job security, that’s never been my desire. Whenever someone says “steady” or “good pay” I immediately check out because those aren’t my priority. Of course I want to make a living, but I’ve never been drawn to the concept of taking a job offer because it’s the most “secure” or most “reasonable”.

I don’t know if its because I’m a “millenial”, or an Enneagram 4, or an INFJ (the list goes on of my very emotional/individualistic personality traits)… but I want more out of my career than just being ready to clock out at the end of the day. I know its not realistic to expect my “dream job” straight out of college, but I hope to eventually find something I am passionate about. 

I love it when I see a light in my friends’ eyes when they talk about their work or their major. They may be just getting by or just starting out, but I can tell they love what they do. I would love to have that same fire for what I do–and if I just get by for a bit, that’s okay with me.


What’s Next?

So what’s next? I have no idea. I’ve had many conversations in my head as well as with others about this awkward time. I’m accepting that this is an uncomfortable time, and trying to not get discouraged. I’m just taking it one day at a time.

2 thoughts on “I Graduated College, Now What?

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