By Maya Page
Caps and gowns, parties and ceremonies, goodbyes and bittersweet moments, graduation season is officially upon us.
On May 21, 2019, seniors will walk across the stage at MetLife Stadium, turn their tassels, and their lives will be forever changed. Graduation is what we have waited for since the beginning of our education. It will be the happiest day of our life…right?
Graduating college is a monumental milestone in one’s life, yet I feel an overwhelming lack of excitement. I thought I would be filled with joy, as I had been waiting for this moment and working tirelessly for so many years. But instead, the thought of student loans and job searches and graduate school has squandered feelings of accomplishment.
When we are little, we are often told we can be anything we want to be. In the third grade, I told my teacher my dream is to become a famous author and travel the world. I still have the note she gave me that says, “When you write your first book, make sure to send me a copy!”
As I got older, and the pressures of adulthood took over, my dream felt less and less realistic.
When I started college, I kept asking myself, ‘is this really what I want to do? How will I make money? What if I’m not even good at writing?’ I became increasingly consumed and distracted with worries and fears of the “real world.”
I felt like everyone around me knew exactly what they were doing and were pursuing a career that they were passionate and certain about. I was so focused on what I should be doing, that I forgot about what I wanted to be doing.
As I approach graduation, and the end of my undergraduate career, I ask myself the same questions I did four years ago. ‘Is this really what I want to do? How will I make money? What if no one wants to hire me?’
I have accomplished so much in my four years at FDU – Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, graduating summa cum laude, completed a thesis for the University Honors Program, member of Upsilon Omega Communication Honor Society.
Despite all this, there is constant worry about having done enough, which may just be my compulsive perfectionism speaking, but nevertheless is persistent in my mind. I spent so much time comparing myself to my peers, looking at what jobs they have lined up after graduation or where they applied to grad school.
But, what I have learned is that looking at other people’s paths only distracted me from my own.
One piece of advice that I wish I knew sooner, that is applicable to everyone no matter if you are a freshman or senior, is that life is not linear. Everyone has a different path. For some, their path is more straightforward, and for others it is full of twists and turns. That doesn’t mean it is the wrong path, it is just yours.
When we are young, we are naïve and oblivious to the hardships of life. We don’t understand debt or the declining job market. We are simply full of hopes and dreams and imagination.
It is so easy to become an adult and forget how to dream. Life will get in the way, your inspiration will fade, and you will settle for a job that doesn’t make you truly happy.
I don’t want that. And that is the one thing I do know.
I had to come to a realization that I don’t have the next five years of my life planned out. I don’t even have the next year planned out, and that is okay. I have worked so hard and I know that I deserve to be proud of my accomplishments.
School-life is all I know; it is all that many of us know. I have been sitting in a classroom for almost 16 years – that’s more than two-thirds of my life. Of course it is going to be scary to go out into the unknown, especially if you are facing crossroads in your path, like myself.
As you enter whatever your next phase in life may be, don’t lose your curiosity. Don’t stop asking questions, don’t stop learning, and don’t stop dreaming.
Graduation is not the end, but the beginning.