Dear almost college graduates,
Congrats on your upcoming graduation! In the words of Elle Woods, we did it! Well you did it, I did it last May. But anyway, if you’re graduating in December, you’re so close! Push through, you can do it! If your time isn’t until May, savor this time. It’ll sneak up on you really quick even though it feels far away. You can do it too!
Being six months out of college, I thought I would share with you some post-graduation wisdom. But first, can I be honest with you? The most common phrases I’ve used to describe this time after college are “I hate it.” “It’s terrible.” “It’s hard.” and “I would not recommend.” But don’t let that scare you. Because I’m positive that it’s easier and better for some people than it has been for me. Some people use completely different descriptors. And I’ve seen their beautiful and well-earned success. However, I also know that I am not alone in my struggles because I’ve talked to others in similar situations as me. The problem is that no one warned us (or me at least) that graduating could be horrible and that you may or may not have a quarter-life crisis. So because of that, I’m going to pass along some things I’ve learned as well as some encouragement so that you don’t have the shock that I experienced.
I’d like to start by saying that college, for me, was the most beautiful time in my life thus far. I plan to go back to get my master’s because it was so beautiful. The learning, community and opportunities available are simply incredible, and I am beyond thankful for those four years. It was quite literally the best time of my life. So I would challenge you not to take your time in college for granted. Don’t waste one minute of it. If you’ve got one month left or four years left, live every moment to its fullest. Be present and active. And try not to regret anything once it’s over.
My six months post-graduation have been full of job searching, resumes, cover letters, applications, emails, phone calls, interviews and ultimately lots of rejection letters, emails and phone calls. I’d like to say I’m a pro at those things now, but apparently I’m not since I’ve turned down one job (very early on in my search… I’m regretting that now, to be honest) in my probably in the twenties or more worth of applications and interviews. Your six months post-graduation may look very similar to this or it may look nothing like it. But either way, never give up. And you should probably start searching early.
During this time, I am trying to completely trust the Lord because it’s all I really can do. It is so dang hard, though. But I refuse to allow myself to get discouraged. I will say that this season has been full of thoughts of uncertainty, anger, sadness, confusion and doubt. I have second-guessed my major and career choices, my own hire-ability and my lack of experience. I have even wondered if I’ll be single, unemployed and living with my parents for the rest of my life. And you may experience these thoughts too. But remember that He is still good. He is always good. And because I know that, I know that there is something good coming. His plan will play out exactly how it should. I just wish it wasn’t taking so long. I may be impatient, but I take peace in knowing that He is always faithful.
I want you to know, that you are good enough. Maybe graduating will be nothing like you expected. Maybe you won’t get a job as quickly as you wanted. Maybe you’ll have to compromise what you are looking for. Maybe it’ll be lonely and boring and maybe you’ll hate it all. But it will all work out, and you are good enough. You won’t always feel good enough, but you are because you are an image bearer of God with a unique and important purpose. Don’t forget that.
Stay optimistic and find the positives. There is good in the rejection. There is good in the phone call you never got. There is good in the email that wasn’t responded to. There is good. You just have to find it.
Also, always obey the Lord and where He is calling you and follow Him with every ounce in you. You will be okay if you do that.
I’ve officially deemed myself a stay-at-home dog mom for the time being. And while that’s not even close to where I saw myself at this exact moment, it’ll do for now. Because that’s exactly where I am supposed to be.
Before I end, I want to talk about community for a bit. Because when you graduate, you instantly lose the immediate, easy and convenient community of friends that you had. And let me tell you, it takes hard work to maintain friendships and to create new ones. But it is so worth it.
You have to put effort in, though. Put effort into seeing and communicating with the friends you hold dear. It may be impossible to keep in touch with every single person you saw on a daily basis so make sure you’re being intentional with your closest and best friends. But YOU put in the effort. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you. You also have to seek out ways to build a new community. Whether that be work, a small group, church, volunteering somewhere… Find a community. You will feel so lonely if you don’t seek out ways to get involved. So do it.
Stay positive. Work hard. Show kindness. Do good. Be brave. Find confidence. Stay patient. Trust the Lord.
I wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors. I sincerely hope your post-graduation life is a little better than mine has been, but if it’s not, know that you are not alone and that everything will eventually be okay even if it doesn’t seem like it.
In the meantime if anyone knows of a way to send my resume and a “please hire me” note to every nonprofit in East Tennessee, I’d love to know it.
Additional note: I was too lazy to figure out where to fit this in, but I read a She Reads Truth devotional after finishing this post and it ended with “Don’t waste your waiting. Your story is much bigger than the ending.” The entire devotional was ridiculously relatable to me in this job hunting season, but that quote jumped out at me. Because I’ve been wasting my waiting. I find myself so often doing nothing productive and just waiting around for something to happen. But nothing happens when you’re doing nothing. And that’s not how I should be using this blessing of free time. So a reminder to me and you in your season of waiting whatever it may be, don’t waste it. Do something good with it. It’s an opportunity to make a difference in your life and other people’s lives. It’s an opportunity to read and gain more knowledge. To write or volunteer or advocate or clean your house or workout or explore or learn something new or spend time with the people you love. It’s a time to spend time with God. It’s even a time to cuddle your dogs and catch up on Netflix shows. Just do whatever God has called you to do in that moment and work hard at whatever it is. Also, read that She Reads Truth.