One Year Later (An Open Letter to Post-Graduates)

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Dear Post-Graduates,

A little over a year ago you donned a black polyester gown, pinned an uncomfortable crooked hat into your hair, drank mini bottles of champagne/shotgunned a beer in your old dorm hallway and walked across a stage to shake hands with the dean of your college. When you opened the leather degree cover, you read that you had received a participation degree, that your degree would be arriving in the mail within the next few months. This participation paper stated that after the blood, sweat, booze and tears you had somehow graduated college. Somehow, someway, with all the all-nighters, tiny dorm room parties, coffee breaks and phone calls complaining about how broke you were, you managed to pass every class. You now had a bachelor’s degree.

Despite the excitement and whirlwind of graduation day, the sense of dread was looming over you. There was no big plan now. You had to be (gasp) an adult, the thing you had avoided being over the last four years.

With that degree, you were now certified to get a job. You could go to graduate school. In a sense, the next few years were so open that you could pretty much do anything you wanted to do. Some of your friends started working, some got an apartment, some went to complete their master’s degree. There was a new road, completely unpaved, that you now how to set for yourself.

Today, you (well, me Alea because I don’t know what all the readers are doing) are currently sitting at a desk in an office in London. You are, once again, an intern. Your father has compared your life to slave labour and you are pretty sure that if you were to be cut open at this exact moment, coffee would pour out of you instead of blood. Everything was different, but everything was good.

When I think about everything that has happened since my last day at Curry College, I cannot help but smile. So much good and horrendously bad, has happened. I cannot comprehend how much I’ve changed.

Graduating college. Moving 3000 miles across an ocean. Job/Internship hunting. Grad school completion. Signing a six-month lease. Burying your childhood pet. Decorating your first apartment. Spin class. Cooking. Meal planning. Bed making. Road-tripping. Nannying. Budgeting. Making new friends. Binging TV shows. Not drinking (as much). Sharing your room with visitors. Dating. Working full-time. Exploring your new cities, and exploring other cities. Becoming heartbroken. Catching flights instead of feelings. Building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. Challenging yourself. Being honest. Being open. Being positive. Trying not to be afraid.

Life after graduation isn’t easy. I’m not going to pretend that there haven’t been struggles. You’ve struggled in every aspect, from the regular meltdowns of ‘why was grad school a good idea’ to accept that even when you like someone, they may not like you back. You’ve lost your dignity late at night (or at networking events). It’s impossible to be perfect.

But these mistakes, every single one, has brought you to the desk you’re currently typing at. Every moment that has been a struggle brought you (eventually) to success. No one said success is easy. You have a solid support system that has shrunken over the year, but whom you are incredibly grateful for because your success would have never happened without them. You have witnessed so much saddness, so much betrayal, yet you continue to move forward. The world is never as bad as you think it is, no matter how bad you think it may be.

Today you are confident. You know how to handle the stresses, the moments, in the right way. Whoever said graduating college was the end of the world was lying.

It is simply the beginning of a new chapter, a new journey, a new life.

Embrace the year of confusion to those who are graduting now. Embrace the disaster, the doubt, the horrible moments where you hate your life. Release the frustration. Cry. Scream. Punch something (I joined kickboxing for a bit). It’s okay to not be okay, to have to figure out what’s going to be next. For those who are like me and have graduated already: you are not alone. You are not the only one struggling. You are in the right place at the right time.

Embrace it. Love it. Thrive with it.

Listening To: Hey There Delilah – Plain White T’s (and my coworkers)

2 thoughts on “One Year Later (An Open Letter to Post-Graduates)

  1. So incredibly insightful, Alea. You have a real talent for telling it like it really is…and helping all of us come to grips (sort of) with the butterflies-in-the-stomach sensation that comes crashing in right after graduation…or retirement, for that matter!

    Like

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