1. You’re supposed to be feeling conflicting emotions right now. That’s normal. Excited and terrified. Confident and completely lost. At peace with the end of your college career and totally heartbroken at the same time. You’ve had four or so years of freedom, growth, lightness, joy, and incredible education, so it’s natural that you are feeling so many difficult emotions. But the strange confidence and inexplicable peace you’re also encountering is your mind’s way of acknowledging that you have received everything you could have possibly received here, and your soul is ready to take that and move on to the next exciting chapter of your life.
2. The real world is about improvising. Nobody ever fully knows exactly what they’re doing, no matter how old or experienced they are. The longer you ‘adult,’ the better you become at it, yes. But everyone around you is battling insecurity, self doubt, worry, and fear – no matter how successful they are. Being scared or uncertain doesn’t mean you’re weak or unfit to be where you are. It’s what you do in spite of those uncomfortable and difficult feelings that matters.
3. This is not the peak of your life. You will experience happiness greater than this. It’ll just be different (but better). The thing about college is that you can only reach a certain level of happiness when everything is easy and simple. It’s when things are hard, scary, and challenging that your highs will feel higher than they’ve ever been in your life.
4. You have incredible friends that you haven’t even met yet, who are waiting for you on the other side of adulthood. You may have found some lifelong soulmates in your college friends, and that’s wonderful. Things will change, but your friendships will continue to grow if you work at them. But it’s important to remember that there are still lots of friendships that haven’t even begun for you yet, and they will be some of the important relationships you will ever have. The older you get, and the farther you go, the bigger your world gets. Don’t forget that.
5. The fact that you are so sad to leave is a testament to how much joy you’ve experienced over the last few years. It does make walking away so much harder. But once you’ve healed and come to terms with the fact that it’s over, you’ll never be able to think about your college experience without a huge smile creeping onto your face.
6. There are a lot of things about the real world that are better than college. Perhaps the most immediate is how much better you will start to feel physically, when you are no longer drinking multiple nights a week and putting bad food into your body on a consistent basis. But there are other things too – actual independence, a broader point of view, more financial stability, a wider range of the types of people you spend your time with, exciting challenges, things to care about outside of your college bubble, the knowledge that the world is so much bigger than you (in a good way).
7. It’s okay if you don’t have an exact plan for what to do the minute you drive off campus. You can’t expect to live in your parents’ basement for the rest of your life. But as long as you’re consistently thinking about and planning out different options (researching grad schools, applying to jobs, working part-time to earn some money while you figure out what’s next, helping out in any way you can at home, etc) it’s okay to take some time to put together a solid plan for what’s next.
8. In the beginning you will miss school terribly, but eventually you will get to a point where you’re satisfied and content enough in your new life that you wouldn’t go back – even if you had the option. You will grow, quickly. You will have a lot of hard days (and nights), but you’ll also discover a lot of things you love about (real) adulthood. Eventually, you really will get to a point where you would not go back even if you could, and it feels really, really good.
9. Your education does not end here. It never ends. You have books, the internet, and people who are smarter than you, right at your finger tips. You can take classes – even just for fun – in things that you enjoy. Often, companies will pay for these types of classes for you, if it works as a beneficial or creative outlet. There are always ways to keep learning, as long as you’re looking out for them.
10. Good things have endings. That’s what makes them so special. College was about growth, and finding what you love, and figuring out what kind of person you want to be, and learning who you are when you’re on your own. But you can’t put those things to good use unless you leave the safe environment that you’ve already mastered and walk into a new one. They don’t have to be the greatest four years of your life, but they can be four of the most special years. You just have to leave the nest first.