Graduation showed me how is not end of the finish line
I’m not a person who likes to write their feelings down. After all, I consider myself a journalist since I can remember. We are trained to release facts, other people’s opinions, the law’s view on important issues. But, I felt inspired after attending my mini graduation photoshoot and for the first time, I decided to share what is happening in my head while I still have graduation goggles on.
I hope I’m not the only person in the world that felt this way before graduation, but I was extremely sad about the next period of my life.
Graduation is meant to be about happiness and joy, everybody is constantly telling you how proud they are and that you will be the next big thing. At first, I hugged myself and said thank you as I pictured myself walking on the stage. I admit singing to the graduation song in the shower a couple of times and mouthing the words, “Elizabeth Gomez! Liberal Arts, Broadcast Journalism!”
Then people’s support started to feel like a weight I couldn’t measure up too. Is not their fault, it’s the constant fear of not letting them down or even worse letting yourself down.
I felt desperate, sad, small and useless! Graduation happiness turned into an enormous pressure of what will happen next. As a Hispanic woman from a big family, I grew up seeing my older sisters and cousins graduating constantly from college. I saw graduation as the end of the finish line when it comes to having a professional life. The drill was, go to school, get good grades so you can attend college and immediately get a job. Easy right? I was dying to feel successful and convince myself that I was a winner during my graduation week! How ironic is that?
“Get good grades, work hard in school so you can graduate with honors and get multiple job offers” Yes, this was my understanding of life before arriving to the United States. I didn’t hear about multiple internships, job mixers and making connections while I was growing up. I heard study hard so you can get a job where you want to be and work your way up the corporate latter.
I know, could I have sounded more pathetic? Probably yes, but I thought I was a looser for not having a job offer in the near future. I fell into a depression that only I knew about. I smiled to the congratulations, but I felt broken. I cried alone because I felt stupid and ashamed. Graduation is meant to be an exciting time!
Then you have all kinds of different feminist role models who pressure you even more! “Be like Hillary!” “If she could do it, why can’t you?” So, I disconnected myself from social media as well.
My parents never put any pressure on me to be the best, but society certainly did. I’m not trying to come off as lazy, but sometimes people’s success can become your failure.
I’m in no way encouraging people to not try their hardest by writing this, but I’m hoping to provide some sort of comfort when you are not who you want to be yet. Women can be amazing, and you don’t need a big time job offer or save the world to be one of them.
When you’re in a time where women are thriving you feel proud, but it can also become a big fat annoying feeling that you are not doing something right. Especially when coming from a culture where you have to “only” study hard to be successful. Studying is just a small part of it right now.
I know one day I’ll be where I want to be in my career. Embrace the moments and savor what you have built, even if is not becoming the most powerful woman in the world. Embrace having made an A on a test and not enough internships on your resume because that’s temporary! Graduation is not when your life is supposed to start, it already did. Graduation is just the beginning of something amazing. I’m not a looser for not being as successful as some women after graduation, I just take my time and learn on the way. We all get there, some sooner than others.