With colleges and universities all over the country holding their graduation ceremonies in these next few weeks, I can’t help by think about my own graduation. I remember being so excited. So ready for the road ahead. Two years and a master’s degree later, here’s what I wish I knew before I walked across that stage.
It’s May 19, 2015. A few weeks ago I received my acceptance letter for the Forensic Anthropology master’s program at University of Montana. I still haven’t heard back from my #1 pick (University of Dundee) yet, but that’s ok. I got in somewhere. I’ll worry about everything else later. Today I’m graduating. I’m nervous as heck that I’ll trip on stage (but I didn’t), or for some strange reason I’ll get an email from LSU saying it was some sort of mix up (it wasn’t). I am just so darn ready to walk across that stage, get my diploma and start my adult life.
Because that’s what graduation is right? The final, celebratory hurrah before actual adulthood…….right?
Fast forward to today. If you read my Start Here page or My First Post!, then you know I have my master’s degree (woo-hoo!), but can’t really do much in my field without a PhD (boo). Though there have been a few job prospects since I’ve been back, they either weren’t worth the move across the country for or there wasn’t much of a possibility for growth/advancement. So I’m currently working as an administrative assistant from home, have a few side hustles, and am working on my real estate license.
I’ve learned a lot since graduating from LSU, but here’s what I wish I knew before I graduated:
1) Things won’t work out exactly how you planned them….but that’s ok.
Whatever the reason, plans don’t always work out. Whether it’s a failed course or a failed exam, our plans change. Maybe you get through your first year and decide your childhood dream of becoming X just isn’t for you. Or maybe you don’t ace those courses every semester and don’t have a good enough GPA to do what you wanted. But it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, there is always another path to take.
2) You started “adulthood” back in high school.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but adulthood started long before you stepped onto that college campus. Think about it: who studied, submitted assignments, decided what extracurricular activities to do, filled out those college applications, decided on a college, picked our classes, decided where to live, how to pay for everything, etc. etc. Even if you received help from your parents for any of these things, you were the one who ultimately got where you are today – about to don that cap and gown and strut across that stage. You’ve been progressing towards full-fledged adulthood long before you realized your were ever adulting.
3) Making money is important, but not the most important thing.
They say that money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly make your life a heck of a lot less stressful. But you know what else does that? A good support system and a good plan. You’re about to graduate. For most people, that means getting a job and settling into their career. So what if it doesn’t pay great right now. If it gets your foot in the door and has room for advancement, work your butt off until you get where you want to be. Learn to live within your means, learn to budget, and learn when to ask for help. Don’t let great opportunities pass you by just because the starting salary isn’t where you want it to be.
4) It’s ok if you don’t have plan after graduation
It’s ok if you don’t have a job lined up after graduation. It’s ok to want to take some time off before going back to school. It’s ok if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Just don’t do nothing. If you don’t have a job lined up, start sending out those applications. If you want to take some time off, be sure you to use that time productively. Save money, look into continuing your education, volunteer, etc. If you have no idea what your plan is, then I highly suggest you figure that our asap. Take some time to yourself and seriously think about what you want and where you want to be.
5) Enjoy it.
It doesn’t matter if your a millionth generation or a first generation graduate – enjoy it. It’s a big milestone. You should be proud of what you accomplished and happy that you’ll be walking across that stage. Wear that cap and gown proudly, as unflattering as they may be. As you and your friends get jobs and move around, you might not see each other as often as you want. This might be the last time you’re all together, at the same stage of life – all graduating. Enjoy it. Soak it all in.
Anything you wish you knew before you graduated?
Comment below or email me at diaryofasouthernmillennial.com!