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…and other post-graduation lessons

Darren Sharp | Fulcrum Staff

EXACTLY ONE YEAR a go, I was handing in the last university assignment of my education. I remember strolling into my prof’s office and dropping my paper on the desk, an epic smile on my face. I left the building and positively floated my way home. I couldn’t have felt prouder of myself. I was done school! Nothing could bring me down.

Of course, finishing at the U of O wasn’t the scary part. That would come shortly after, when I had no idea what the hell I was going to do next.

Graduation is an incredible achievement for all the students finishing up their university careers this April. In a couple months you’ll have on a cap and gown, and you’ll hear your name called, and you’ll walk down the aisle to shake hands with Allan Rock, and you may be lucky enough to have friends and family in the audience to cheer you on. Take that moment in; it’s one of the most gratifying experiences you’ll have had thus far in your life, and you deserve a moment to pat yourself on the back.

Once you walk off that stage, though, it gets complicated. Most of you won’t have your dream job lined up quite yet, and many of you won’t have a job at all. You could be moving to a new city for a great opportunity, or you could be moving back to your parents’ place until you figure your life out. You’ll have a fancy degree in your hand, but to the public you’ll be a twentysomething working at the mall making barely enough money to pay your bills.

If some of those scenarios terrify you, you’re not alone. But here’s a little wisdom from someone who’s been surviving in the real world for a year now: You’re going to be fine.

The most important lesson I’ve learned since graduating is that life isn’t a race. You’re allowed to take time to get yourself together. You can’t freak out when your friends start posting Facebook statuses about the exciting things they’re doing; comparisons will get you nowhere. You’re on your own journey, and that journey may involve moving back home or working at Starbucks while you build your portfolio or starting at a job you hate so you can work up to one you love. You’re not a failure if your best friend is making $40, 000 and you’re still pulling minimum wage. You have to start somewhere to get somewhere.

So while you’re finishing up exams and getting ready to begin the rest of your life, remember this: You’ve made it this far, adulthood isn’t quite as terrifying as you’ve been told, and you’re going to be okay.