1. It’s okay to be scared. You’re going to be tempted to put a brave face on in front of everyone you know. But as all the clichés have told us across time, being brave isn’t about not have fears, it’s about acknowledging that you do, and facing them anyway.
2. You don’t need to have it all figured out. Whenever we are fast approaching the end of an experience, it can feel like if you don’t have every last detail figured out, things are not going to work out. Well, take it from someone who went from having everything figured out to having nothing figured out in my final semester, the latter is way more interesting.
3. Be prepared but be flexible. You’re making plans, you’re sending out applications, and going on interviews. Or maybe you’re much further than many and you’ve got the job, the city, and all the devilish details planned out. By all means, do the best you can. But be prepared for a few curve balls along the way, and be courageous enough to change your mind.
4. Ask for help, and ask for it often. It may feel like college is where you have become independent. But more than likely, you just scratch the surface of adulthood. You still need help. And now more than ever, you need to learn how to ask for it with humility. People will go an extra mile for a young person who is humble.
5. Be confident but don’t be arrogant. The world away from college might be a new world for you and you have to go into it, with all the confidence you can manage. But never let that confidence turn into arrogance. As far as the world is concerned, you are probably unproven in what you set out to do. And if you forget that, life will find a way to remind you of it.
6. Cherish your friendships now. You will never be with friends in the same way that you were in college. And as you may or may not realize, some of your friendships will slip away. It’ll be for many reasons. But don’t think about that too much. For now, love the ones you’re with.
7. Don’t be in a rush to move onto the next stage. Like many people, I spent far too much of my senior year, basked in the illusion of senioritis. Okay, fine senioritis is very real. But recognize that, you are definitely going to have an end to this experience soon. It’s too easy to wish it would go by quicker. But slow down, and relish in the few months you have left at this stage.
8. You’re going to change but never forget who you are right now. Things might change in a way that you expect but the most interesting changes will be the ones you don’t anticipate. But regardless of what you might become in the future, look back at these years with a sense of humor and compassion. And one way to do that, is to live that way right now.
9. Let bygones be bygones. You will be tempted to hold onto some regrets – you might already have a few. And in a few years, you’ll know that you should have done some things differently. But right now, right now is the time to decide that whatever happened during these years, happened. You can’t change it. You can’t go back. All you can do is learn the lessons and move forward.
10. Remember that fortune favors the brave. You’re going to have a lot of decisions to make, choices that make you feel so uncertain of everything. It’ll be tempting to always choose the path of least resistance, the safe path. But give yourself more credit, and create your own path. Go places and do things that remind you that this life is an adventure at every stage.
11. Change your perspective on failing. For the overachievers especially, failure has rarely been experienced. And up until this point, most of our failures might have been few and far between. But you’re going to fail, and you might even fail in a big way. But promise yourself that when you do, you will see failure as part of the process that will take you where you need to go.
12. Be thankful for everything. When it gets tough right now, when the anxiety of the future overwhelms you, it’ll be easy to lose gratitude for all the gifts you’ve been given. Don’t give in. Appreciate that your life is a long story, and what you’re experiencing is a part of it, but it’s not the entire part. And if you can keep that perspective, you’re going to find that gratitude is your greatest weapon in staying grounded, and staying happy.
13. Have the courage to face your life wherever it takes you. You can’t possible have all the answers. You can’t possibly know where you’ll be in a year or five. But you can commit to being open to life. You can believe that whatever comes your way is for a purpose. You can believe that you will let go of the things that are out of your hands. You can believe that you will survive, and maybe even thrive through your next years.