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The summer I turned graduate

The final days of the spring quarter may seem far away with the chaotic nature of college life, yet week eight is here! Although that comes with the dread of upcoming finals, for pending graduates, the rite of passage that comes with receiving your degree is within close reach. Months ago, you were just starting the first day of your last year in college, keeping pace with the quarter system as always. Now, most of you are in the process of preparing for your corresponding ceremonies, finding loopholes in your busy schedule to shop for attire, caps, sashes and other needed materials. The spotlight is on you, and it’s well deserved!

I can’t fully grasp the overwhelming emotions that come with closing out your college experience. One thing I’ve come to observe, however, is a recurring question: “What do you plan to do after graduation?” Although this question stems from good intentions, it places pressure on graduates to give an elaborately long response, planning out the future and taking away from fully enjoying the present.

You’ve invested a lot in your years of academic education, so enjoy the festive ambiance and prioritize your well-being in the present. If someone does ask you about what’s next, a simple and polite response is to express that you’re taking the summer as a time to reflect and adapt. This includes impending graduates who have secured jobs after graduation, as you’ll also need time to do the same. Taking the summer to find direction in life doesn’t have to inflict anxiety. You can discover more about what you want your path to look like by being engaged in the present. There is no roadmap, set expectations or implications that confine your potential. This can be scary but equally liberating.

Summer is the perfect grace period for you to venture into new interests and indulge in what makes you happy. Nothing is set in stone, and there’s no right or wrong way to pave your path. Rely on your values so that you don’t regret anything you might want to try. If you do end up regretting something, it’s not as serious as you probably think. 

The end of college should not be the end-all of fun. Adulting doesn’t have to feel like a chore — you can make it a non-linear and quirky experience. Do what gives you peace; if that includes working right away, then prioritize balance so that you can enhance your happiness in all aspects of life. If you have the funds to travel, there is no better time to explore a place you’ve dreamed of going. Perhaps you’re looking to rent your own apartment in a new city that offers much to explore, or saving up to do so while moving back home. While it can be stigmatized to move back in with your family, this doesn’t have to feel like you’re taking steps back, especially in this economy. There’s so much freedom that comes with being able to make your own decisions this summer, so take it one day at a time.

Considering most of this graduating class were also the high school graduates of 2020 during our COVID-19 era, extend your celebrations over the summer. Be extra and own it. Make it the most memorable graduation yet. You’re all set with experiences, skills and one degree hotter to take on the world!

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