Being in your final year of college is a bittersweet feeling. You have a little bit of “senioritis” and you’re just ready for a new experience. However, you wonder how the “real world” will receive you. You ask yourself, “What can I offer? Do I have enough experience? How am I going to get a job right out of school? Am I even ready to be out of school?” These questions are perfectly normal to have, but they can give you so much stress. This feeling can be labeled as post graduate anxiety.
There is a bit of guilt that comes with post graduate anxiety because graduation is a time to celebrate your accomplishments, and at every gathering your family members will ask, “So, what are you going to do after you graduate?” If you say, “Well, I don’t know,” you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Although it seems like a time to make quick and risky decisions, it’s really a time to find where you fit. It’s easy to fall into a funk after you graduate, but I can reassure you that education doesn’t end when your school career ends. The classroom becomes larger.
Leeann C., who graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2013, suffered from post graduate anxiety and depression. Through her experience, she learned a lot on how to cope with real life stress.
“I think it’s a process,” Leeann explained. “Some of us have straight and narrow paths, but most don’t. I think learning to lean into and find comfort in uncertainty when most of our lives have been planned in terms of school is difficult.”
Melanie Nebel, who graduated from CSUSB in 2018, also suffered from post graduate anxiety and depression. She was able to find ways to adjust, and tried to keep her youthful energy alive.
“I was constantly listening to music from my childhood, watching old cartoons I loved, almost mourning my adolescence. So when I graduated, I didn’t have as hard of a time,” Nebel said.
“I mentally prepared myself, and had a lot of conversations with my therapist. Afterwards, I found a job pretty quickly, and that helped me transition a little easier. I felt like an actual adult!”
Both interviewees provided similar ways to cope with post graduate anxiety:
- Be proud of yourself: One should be proud of all they’ve accomplished. If you can handle 13+ years of school, you can handle anything.
- Don’t feel inadequate compared to your peers: Every path is different, so don’t feel like a failure if your peers seem more successful.
- Go with the flow: Life won’t always go how you want it to go. It’s a life skill to learn how to roll with the punches.
- Don’t stress: Try your best, and don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out. Life isn’t a race, and you have time.
- Dive into your hobbies: If you’re struggling with finding your way, focus on what you know you love already. Draw, paint, cook, program, play around. You have one life, make the best of it.
“Then you have to adjust to make sense of where you should go when there isn’t an obvious path,” Leann said. “The anxiety, at the same time, helps build resilience and flexibility because life rarely goes as planned.”