Back in June I traveled to Eugene, OR to watch my baby sister graduate from the University of Oregon. In between photo opts, filming, congratulatory speeches and stuffing my face I told Emmaly that this is where the hard part comes. I told her not to worry, but that the first 6 months to a year after graduating from college was going to feel like an utter mess. Hold on tight, you’ll get through this.
My friends and I, looking back at that 6 months to a year directly after graduation realized that this one specific time period can be the most out of control period of any young person’s life. After spending basically all your life in school, suddenly you’re just, not. You were expected to work so hard to complete this step, graduate from college, and now you’re supposed to be stepping into a CAREER, being SUCCESSFUL, and oh so HAPPY.
But then you graduate, and once the summer fun wears off you see some of your friends return to school. You watch friends you’ve come to depend on run off to grad school, Europe, move home, travel the world, and you’re just, there.
You quickly realize working full time isn’t all roses and magic like you’d expected. That sure, more money is nice, but now that CAREER you were working for is it. This is your life. Welcome to your cube.
All of a sudden you look around and wonder if THIS is really what you wanted. Bills, rent, 9-5, career.
Is there more?
My friends and I each dealt with this in different ways. Some took off to far away lands, others enrolled in grad school, some put their nose to the ground and worked, some of us drank too much, cried too much, scratched our heads too much. I remember one night, a few too many glasses of wine deep full body sobbing to Adam that I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I looked out my apartment window and pointed to the direction of the University of Washington and sobbed, “That used to be my home! That was my identity! That is what I worked for, what I was proud of, that DEFINED ME. Now who am I?”
He rolled his eyes at me, because HI, drama much? But it was the core of my bewilderment.
After being a student for so long, how could I just be Ashley?
The worst part is the only advice I have for my sister now that she's graduated and the oh-shit moment has hit her is to hold on. There’s no magical cure. What helps one person find their way will not work for another. Traveling the world might sooth the soul of one graduate, but might only further confuse another.
Unlike the rest of their lives where the “next step” was perfectly mapped and planned, this part has zero direction. There’s no right way or wrong way.
And telling her that when she's crying into the phone to me, telling me she doesn't understand why everything feels so crappy and all I can say is, "Don't worry! It gets better!" makes me feel like a world class asshole.
Yet, it really is the only advice I have.
So I ask you, what was your post schooling freak out like? Raise your hand if you too had a full scale quarter life crisis that involved consuming far too much wine and crying for no reason.
Orrrrrr. Maybe that was just me.