If you're like me, you've been looking forward to graduating college since you first started going. Although it was always a dream of mine to learn from a higher education institution, my real dream was to have a fulfilling career afterward. For me, attending college was just a stepping stone to help me get to where I really wanted to go and to be just an experience in life, not the breaking point for who I would ultimately become as a person.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed college for what it was, but I was always shocked when people my age reminisce on the "best moments" of their lives and listed college or even high school as their choices. I could understand where they were coming from to a degree, but it always feels sad to me when people think that the best time of their lives is in the past and they've yet to break 25 years old.
What's funny is that many people associate these best moments as to how many friends they had or how much alcohol they consumed, at least in my experience. When I picture myself at my happiest, it's having a successful job in a city I love surrounded by all the people I care about most. It's a very idealistic dream, but after working as hard as I have for the past 22 years, it's not something completely out of reach.
But now that graduation is just two weeks away, everything is starting to feel overwhelming. Graduation parties, getting a real job, moving... it's all so exciting yet equally foreboding. Relatives, older friends and even people we meet in passing expect us to have everything planned out for our lives before graduation even rolls around.
I don't think I would feel as stressed as I do if the pressure of people asking what my plans are didn't exist.
I get that people ask these questions from a genuine place, but the pressure that comes with questions like "Do you have a job set up?" "What are your plans?" "Have you heard back from the place you've been interviewing with?" is often too much. When I don't have the answers to those questions, I start to feel like a failure, like I was somehow supposed to have that all figured out by now even though I'm still in school with finals around the corner.
But even though all of that can feel not only overwhelming and tiring but defeating, don't let it make you not enjoy your college graduation.
After all the years you've spent slaving over homework, tests, essays and more, don't let this passing stress keep you from feeling accomplished.
I've had to remind myself to take deep breaths every single day and not check my email 10 times every hour to see if there is an update on my job applications.
Although this exhaustion can feel all-consuming, what we're going to remember most from this moment is when we get to cross that stage and take a hold of our diplomas.
That piece of paper justifies every late night studying, every early morning getting up for class and every afternoon we spent working on projects. Those tireless days will be met with achievement, and that is what I hold onto out of all of this.
Don't forget to praise yourself in this time that feels like everything you did for the past couple of years of your life pushes up to this.
But it's all worth it because we made it.
Pat yourself on the back, grad. We did it.