Graduation… Now what?

I heard my name called. I walked across the stage to shake the president’s hand and receive my diploma. A diploma holder, actually, but the meaning was not lost on me. It felt like a dream, but it was all very real.

It has been 11 days since I graduated from college and life is…different. I attended school for 17 straight years. 17 times I had to buy school supplies. 17 Christmas breaks. 17 last days of school. But this was my last, last day.

Graduation brought on many emotions and to try to put them into words seems impossible. First, there is the excitement. I can’t believe that school may be out forever. Graduates like me have been told we have the world at our fingertips, and it has never felt more real than it does right now. Free time, somewhat disposable income, and real food – all the things we’ve dreamed about are actually here for the taking. The real world is right in front of us and it’s amazing. We’re primed and ready to take it on…or so we think.

With excitement comes uncertainty. I feel I can speak for many recent grads when I say how nervous I am. Not always scared, but nervous for what’s to come. Think about it: every spring we’ve had school to look forward to in the fall. Even if we didn’t know exactly what our summer plans were, we knew that come August we would be busy with school. This is the first time in our lives that we don’t know.

In the past 11 days, I’ve also felt relief, terror, and an entire rush of other emotions that I can’t even begin to track. But sadness is one that has really stuck with me. Two of my roommates are from out-of-state – and as of May 11 – they don’t have any plans to come back to Minnesota. I have been close to a few guys during four years of college. Not seeing my some of best friends is going be the hardest part of college ending. We’ll keep in touch, but it’s not going to be the same.

Putting negative emotions aside, I can’t wait to start my career and take my first step into the real world. Gaslight Creative is going to be a great place to learn and start navigating this new world that I’m entering. The team here has taken me under their wing since January, but now they’re starting to let me try flying on my own. I want to prove myself to be an integral part of the team here at Gaslight and I hope I can do that.

In the end, college can only teach us so much. We’ve spent the last four years looking through textbooks and learning how to write papers. We’ve pulled all-nighters to finish projects and crammed at the last minute for a test. Many of the lessons we learned in college were about ourselves. Stress, deadlines, drama – how will we react as life throws more our way. We’ve been preparing for the real world for 22 years. Ready or not, it’s here and it’s our turn to take a crack at it. Here I go.