What I Wish I Knew When I Graduated College
I’ve finally figured it out. After months of uncertainty, confusion, and overall anxiety about what to do with myself post-grad, I have realized what’s actually going on here.
I am nearly positive that all adults are getting together at some huge annual convention where they collectively (and secretly!!) decide to pretend they know what they’re doing!! Even if they have no idea!! I’m currently waiting to be invited to one of these meetings.
For real though, the moment I realized we’re all just “winging it” was a huge relief. As the end of my college career approached, I naively assumed that when I graduated, things would immediately fall into place. I genuinely believed that within a few months, some fantastic opportunity would fall out of the sky directly into my lap. I thought that a couple of job applications would result in an awesome, fulfilling job.
So when a few months passed and that didn’t even come remotely close to happening, I felt a deep sense of failure. I felt like I was stuck in a cloud of anxiety that obscured all truth and direction from my life.
I wish someone had told me that it would feel really strange to graduate. I felt out of place, left out, and lonely. Many times I wondered if it had even been worth it for me to work so hard to graduate a whole year early and in turn, feel completely isolated from my friends. I felt like I graduated with grandiose ideas, but then just floundered in anxiety and uncertainty for months. I waded in negativity instead of focusing on all the amazing blessings in my life.
The reality of life is that things take much longer than you think they will, and probably much longer than you want to wait. It took me a while to get this, but I am finally understanding just how important it is to take the pressure off of myself, be patient, and be okay with figuring things out along the way.
Nobody ever gets an instruction manual or a map of where they should go. Can you imagine if there were some life map where everyone had a different colored line to follow like a subway line for their life? Like Google Maps but for life decisions instead? That would be awesome. But actually, that wouldn’t be awesome.
The unpredictability of life is what produces character in us. Challenges are what make life meaningful, and without them we would miss out on the deepest kinds of joy. Like the joy that comes when you finally reach a higher understanding and feel like a light has turned on and reached the darkest corners of your pain, or the joy that comes wrapped in sorrow, or the joy that comes from the best surprise of your life. The uncertainty of the future reminds us that we are not on earth to chase pleasure. We are not here to idolize happiness or money or success. We are here to live with purpose and grow every day. And not knowing where we’re going humbles us and helps remind us of the insatiable yearning we all have, deep down, to live a life of meaning.
I think we all walk around with anxiety weighing on our shoulders. We buy into the lie that we have to get everything perfectly right, and we end up taking on incredible stress about it. We hold onto our plans with white knuckles and melt down when things don’t go according to that plan. It’s probably going to feel uncomfortable and even unproductive, but letting go of your timeline and accepting God’s timeline is the best thing you can do for your anxiety.
I’m trying to remind myself this every day. It’s a daily challenge for me, but I know that giving up control actually leads to freedom.