Post-Graduation Life Is Not What I Expected and I'm OK With That
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Post-Graduation Life Is Not What I Expected and I'm OK With That

What feels like the end is often the new beginning.

Two girls wearing graduation caps, sashes, and cords.
Clariza Adao

It's been a year since I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. College was a bittersweet experience: I was elated to attend my dream school but being a first-generation college student was challenging. I had a rough transition: I had to learn everything on my own, such as filling out FAFSA by myself and figuring out what classes to take. Being a full-time student while working part-time (I had Work-Study), and participated in extracurricular activities was stressful. Fortunately, I overcame those obstacles with the support of loved ones. I had a plan: graduate followed by starting my Big Girl job. It did not work that way. Here is the not-so glorified version of what actually happened:

Deep down, I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do after college. I was too focused on surviving college! It seemed like everyone around me knew what they wanted to do after graduation. It was intimidating. My classmates cannot know that I DO NOT have a concrete plan. I lowkey always dreaded telling people my post-graduation plans. My copout answer was that I was job-hunting and had a few interviews lined up. It was an acceptable answer and no one ever questioned it.

I spent all senior year mass applying to jobs through LinkedIn and Handshake. I applied to over 200 positions. As a result, I either did not hear back from companies or got denied. I felt defeated and burnt out. Looking back, I do not recommend mass applying to jobs. Chances are, you are not even qualified for the positions because you don't have enough experience (yikes, you need the experience to get experience).

I was happy for everyone that managed to obtain a job after graduation. As the school year was coming to an end, every time I saw those "I am excited to announce…" posts on social media, I felt like a loser. My self-confidence was declining and my frustration was rising. Having "University of Illinois" attached to my name was not enough for a guaranteed job offer. The job market is rough and you essentially competing with thousands of people who have the same credentials as you, more or less.

Eventually, I managed to get a job as an editor at a non-profit news company. I loved having the freedom to create and helping others become better writers. However, something was still missing. Unfortunately, I burnt out and mentally unstable so I unexpectedly left after 2 months.

I enjoyed not working for a bit. It didn't last long because the six months grace period for student loans was coming to an end. To earn extra money, I was a part-time waitress. Many people saw this as me wasting my potential. People's opinions were getting to my head and I felt unproductive. My coworkers at the restaurant reassured me that everything will fall into place and that my priority right now is to survive financially.

Transitioning from college to "real life" is an eye-opening experience. As college students, we were fortunate enough to be in our bubble: we're focused on our academics and extracurricular activities. Whatever you may be stressing out right now, whether it is you stuttering during your final oral presentation or drama within your fraternity, it will not matter after graduation. You will have more important priorities, such as paying for bills and working.

I cannot emphasize this enough: WE ARE STILL YOUNG. It's okay if you don't have a definite idea of what you want to do yet. Others will pressure you to figure out what to do. Some will try to tell you how to live your life and overhelp (yes, there is such thing as overhelping). You know yourself better than anyone else. Choose whatever is best for yourself and enjoy the journey. Be in the moment. Be prepared. Life is unpredictable and will get hectic. You may lose yourself along the way but remember who you are.

Congratulations, Class of 2020.

"Oh, the places you'll go!"

-Dr. Suess

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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