When I was first approached about writing a post geared towards recent college graduates, I hesitated for two reasons. One being the obvious I haven’t graduated yet and haven’t experienced the post graduation rush that happens when we leave the safety net that is school. The second being that since I’m set to graduate soon, I’m currently caught up in this sea of liberal arts wondering if I should do this or that. Yet, after thinking it through, I realized that, like most in my position, the answers to these questions aren’t always the easiest to find or accept but it is through our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned through our college years that prepare us for this moment. So, I’m sharing the 5 lessons I’ve learned throughout my college experience that have prepared me for everything else that is come to.
- Everything happens in a moment.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that everything happens in a moment. We are born in a day and we will leave this world on another. We meet people that change our lives in a minute and learn what we want to do in one defining instant. These moments are important. They shape us into who we are and who we will be. Notice them. Pay attention to the people you surround yourself with, the books you like to read, the movies you enjoy watching, they all are a glimpse into who you are. Notice the possibilities around you and choose to say yes to the ones that spark something within you—no matter how terrifying they may be. We find ourselves when we leave the warmth of our comfort zone for though it may be beautiful, nothing ever happens there. The future should scare you, in a good way, and it should fill you with excitement for tomorrow is just an idea, it doesn’t exist. All we have is a succession of todays and anything incredible, mind-blowingly spectacular that is about to happen will happen out of nowhere in an instant. Let it happen and stop worrying. Our idea of what tomorrow should look like ruins our ability to appreciate what is and what could be faster then failure ever will.
Our lives are webs that are interconnected and constantly tying in to past experiences and people. What we do today affects what will happen next, so take it all seriously and learn as much as you can from it. Every class, no matter how dull you might find it, will teach you something new if you pay attention. Every job will prepare you for your next. As a college freshman, I believed I would become a journalist but after getting involved in an AmeriCorps program that focuses on literacy and early childhood education, I’m now looking to the Peace Crop and working in international education. It’s a path I never thought I would be walking down but one that only came about because I got involved in a program after seeing a flyer that caught my attention. You never know how many doors will open for you if you don’t try new things and explore new avenues.
- Life is a melting pot.
Studying photography taught me that everyone has a behind the scenes that isn’t as a glamorous as the highlight reel we see. We are constantly going to meet people who seem to have it all together, don’t be fooled. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others. We all carry our own doubts and insecurities, the trick it to not let them overwhelm us to the point that we forget why we’re trying in the first place. Believe in your abilities and talent because if you don’t, no one else will. Don’t settle for what is expected or what you think you should be doing, do what you firmly believe you’ll love to do, it’ll make you happy and that should be your end goal. If that changes, don’t worry. It is never to late to begin a new beginning. Our lives are a melting pot of new beginnings and ends; it’s how we learn and grow. It’s the reason why we have to take new classes every semester in college.
One of my professors once told me that ‘the most dangerous risk of all is the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. ‘ This more then anything else resonated with me. We tend to live in world that prides the amount sitting in a bank account as oppose to the amount of times we’ve smiled in a day or laughed in a year. While money is important, it shouldn’t become the determining factor in our lives. Find something that you love, learn as much as you can about it, and find a way to make a living out of it. Money can buy many things but it will never buy you time to live the life you wanted in the first place. So stop worrying about it and remember that with work there should be some fun tied in. It can’t always be rainbows and gumdrops but it shouldn’t be all thunderclouds either. Find balance and let that guide you.
We’re taught to have plans from the beginning, to know the answer to the question before we’ve fully processed the question in the first place. The question that is constantly being thrown in my direction isn’t about what I’ve learned but rather where I’m going, what I’m planning to do and sometimes that’s a lot harder to answer. Though, I’ve been a planner by nature, knowing exactly what I wanted to do after school wasn’t as clear-cut as deciding what I would be doing today or tomorrow. It took time and at times, I felt overwhelmed, surrounded by opportunity but unsure of which was right for me. The thing is that a cloudy future isn’t necessarily a bad one. It’s terrifying to not know what’s in store but that doesn’t mean it’s going to all go downhill from here. No matter how much we plan and prepare, life will throw curveballs our way and we will end up, at one point or another, with a cloudy future and that’s okay. We’re human, we aren’t meant to have all the answers. So keep trying, follow your passions, explore, live and learn. What will be will always find a way to be.
These are the lessons I’ve learned, the ones that have broken and made me into the person I am. Leaving school, entering the job market and officially becoming an adult is terrifying but we’re not alone. We’re all in this together and there are various resources to help us through the chaos. So regardless of when your graduation was or will be, remember there is always something to learn and room to grow.