Graduation season is truly an incredible time of the year. So many stories of hardships, late nights, and overcoming adversity that all collect into celebrating this one moment, this one step, this one colossal achievement—that feeling that hundreds of thousands of students share across the country and across the world. The feeling they’ve all been chasing for however many years: “I. DID. IT.”
You had the remarkable experience of sharing that feeling last year, and it was nothing short of glorious. You dreamed of it for four years. Four years of late nights. Four years of class during the day, followed by a closing shift at work, only to come home exhausted and have to work until 3 a.m. to finish assignments due at 9 a.m. Those nights were often balanced with adventures into the city with friends, concerts, movie nights, going out on a Tuesday because you’re already having a bad week and no one will bat an eye because it’s college. The grad cap cliche turned out to be true: the tassel WAS worth the hassle.
The day you thought would never come finally came. You hit “submit assignment” for the last time, picked up your cap and gown, and walked across that stage to the cheers and tears of family, friends, and peers.
There’s no other feeling like it. So much potential. So much optimism. So much drive to go out and conquer the world! Life is so busy, then so empty all at once. What now? What next? Everyone wants to know. You want to know. You’re eager to find your next step but also excited to see what happens. Who knows where you’ll get a job or where you’ll move? You can go anywhere, do anything! Life has only just begun!
The days start to pass, then the weeks, then the months. Some exciting travels now that you’re not restricted to a school schedule. Some much needed relaxation with family after being away for so long. Some prospective job searching, assessing what you’re qualified for, excited for who you’re going to meet and what you’re going to do. Life changes slowly and so quickly all at once. Your friends are scattered. Your life for the past four years is fragmented and pieced apart. So many goodbyes. So many new daily routines.
Life becomes eerily quiet after the craziness of college. Days are mostly uneventful. Nights spent going out are drastically reduced. The days drag and fly by. The highs and lows come and go. The job search continues with the promise of success. It turns out to be sadly uneventful. No interviews, a shrinking social circle, uneventful days, weeks, months. It’s a much needed break from the stress of the college, and completely miserable.
No employers email you back, and you question if they even looked at your application. That cover letter you spent an hour writing seemed to be a complete waste of time. Your friends got jobs. Got apartments. They’re starting their careers, meeting new people, learning so many new things. And you haven’t even gotten an interview.
Some days are too much to bear. Your optimistic, freshly-graduated self is gone. You’re starting to realize life after college is harder than life as a student, which turns out to be a huge curveball you were not prepared for. Some days you’re grateful for the rest, the family time, the freedom. Other days you’re frustrated, defeated, nostalgic, and depressed.
A year after that amazing post-grad feeling, here you are feeling lost and frustrated at the job market, and at your optimistic, naive past self. But nothing worth having ever comes easy. You’re going to keep applying. You’re going to keep pushing through the confusion and self-doubt. Despite all the frustrations and hard days, you’re still connected to that excited, bright-eyed, fresh graduate from last year, and you know they’ll find their next step soon.