What I Wish I could Say to my College Graduate Self: We all share common fears at this transition in life, and here’s why you shouldn’t fear at all!
It’s that time of year when people are graduating college and about to enter the real world, begin jobs and careers, and transition into adulthood. It’s the happiest day of a senior’s life.
Though I don’t really look back into the past, at this time of year, I’m reminded of my transition to adulthood. For me, college proved to be quite a struggle and I’m sure my journey into the real world was far different than anyone else’s, but nonetheless, we all share mixed emotions of happiness and fear as we decide what to do with the rest of our lives. It’s an entirely new chapter.
Looking back on my college graduation day, I remembered worrying about how I’d support myself as a creative individual and asked myself if college was worth it. Today, I realize that college was in fact worth it, and in this day and age, in the job world, it’s all about the candidate with the highest education that gets the opportunities. This one moment I had on graduation day, though, as I walked out the door for the last time without turning my head, I thought this: “What if I chose the wrong major, the wrong path, or what if I can’t make the most of my college degree? Was this all meant to happen this way?”
There’s always this lingering fear that hangs around, and sometimes we can’t quite form words to describe this fear on graduation day. Everyone to some degree, no matter how assuring of the path they’ve chosen, comes with slivers of uncertainties, ‘what if’ fears, and ‘did I make the right choice’ questions. The truth is, you can’t know. The only thing you do know is how the path you’ve chosen to take affects you, whether it makes you truly happy or not. Today, as I think about that day, when I walked across the stage slightly hesitant to accept this new transition, I wished I could have told myself this: “Life doesn’t always work out perfectly as planned and it’s alright if down the road, the plan changes.”
Often times, we’ll choose a career right after college, invest in it, immerse ourselves and spend many years climbing to the top in some industry or at some corporation, and later find ourselves switching things up. Vera Wang switched careers at age 40, from journalist and figure skater to high-end fashion designer. Martha Stewart used to be a model before she switched into cooking. Arnold Schwarzenegger switched careers not once, but twice. While they’re all high-profile people, I used those examples to show you how we can’t know what the future will bring, and it’s important not to fear it. You may even find yourself chasing a career in your twenties only to wake up in your thirties saying, “That’s what I believed I wanted then...”
Sometimes, the wind may blow you in other directions and life will create detours, so explore and learn from them. As I write this now, it’s been almost ten years since college, and already I am going through a career shift. I got used to a certain way of living in my twenties, but as my thirties approached, my mindset shifted, too. Everyone at some point will experience a change. That’s inevitable. I wished I could reassure my younger self that I am capable of achieving tough, long-term goals (as I’ve recently proven to myself). Now that I know this, this new chapter in life has been a smoother, more enjoyable ride.
Though my health took part in reshaping most of my journey, we’ve all dealt with moments of fears and uncertainty with every new chapter. Everything in life is an opportunity to grow, learn new things, and evolve as a person. It’s important to make note: always keep your eyes and mind open as you go along on your journey. You can’t know what the future will bring, but reassure yourself that you don’t need to have fears or doubts about it. Life changes all the time and as you grow up, you’ll change a lot as well. Embrace it and know that you were meant to do something great.