Graduating college is something many college seniors look forward to each year. After four years of hard work and tireless studying, it’s exciting to seize that diploma and head out into the real world. In fact, I remember how excited I was when I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin just four years ago.
Before I graduated, I was ready to set the world on fire and become a best-selling author. Little did I know, success doesn’t come that easily. After I graduated college, I had trouble finding a job and even more trouble figuring out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Every bit of excitement and anticipation I ever felt went completely out the window and all I was left with was confusion, frustration, sadness, and fear – very different emotions than I had ever expected to feel after graduating college.
Many college graduates, in fact, experience a host of similar emotions after leaving college behind. These difficult emotions aren’t necessarily bad to feel; truth be told, most of them naturally come to people who are about to embark on an unknown chapter. If anything, it’s completely expected to feel a myriad of confusing, difficult emotions. For those of you who are about to graduate college, here are three emotions in particular to prepare yourself for.
I remember feeling incredibly jealous when my friends around me started landing jobs left and right. I couldn’t believe that after four years of hard work I hadn’t received even one job offer after countless interviews, but my friends were getting jobs right away. Even when your best friends find after-college jobs, you’ll likely feel a sense of jealousy.
It’s difficult to stand by and watch your friends start the next chapter of their lives when you’re struggling to figure out what comes next; keep in mind, however, that many college students struggle to get a job after graduation.
Whenever feelings of jealousy creep up on you, try and occupy your thoughts elsewhere. Get a part-time job or vigorously applying for open positions. As long as you focus your energy on moving forward, you’ll be on your way to letting go of all that jealousy.
Fear is completely normal to feel after graduating college. I remember how panicked I felt when I realized I was going to have to start paying off student loans, renting an apartment, and purchasing my own food. Without a job prospect in sight, I worried I wouldn’t be able to pay for anything.
Sure, it can be utterly terrifying when you don’t have a paying job right out of college, but with time, effort, and patience, you’ll be able to start tackling those expenses that come after college. Even if you have to take a job that is less than ideal, you’ll be able to handle all those expenses you’re obligated to pay.
The most surprising emotion I felt after college graduation was confusion. Throughout all of college, I was certain I had chosen the right profession. Yet after I graduated college, I felt as though I had made a mistake. What’s worse, I wasn’t sure I knew what I wanted out of life anymore. Day in and day out, I’d walk around frustrated and confused trying to figure out what to do with myself. With time, I came to understand that many students feel a deep sense of confusion after graduating.
Keep in mind, you’ve been in college for the past four years studying for what you think you want to do for the rest of your life, and when the moment comes that you actually have to go pursue a profession, you might be confused about whether you made the right decision. Should a sense of confusion come over you, just focus on moving forward and not dwelling on the confusion. With time, you’ll be able to get past all the confusion and finally settle into a place of certainty and satisfaction.
College graduation is an exciting rite of passage, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one. If you’re preparing to graduate college, prepare to feel a whole host of varied emotions, including confusion, fear, and jealousy.
Kate Willson is an education blogger and writer for collegecrunch.org. She is passionate about providing college graduates with advice on how to transition into life after college.