The Naked Truth About College Grads

Graduate college, they said, It’ll be fun, they said.

They also said that you’d walk across that stage and opportunities would start knocking and kicking and scratching at your door. That you’d smile for that cheesy handshake photograph and hold your fake certificate (Sarcastic)  and all of a sudden you’d feel like (and simultaneously become) a full-fledged, accomplished, educated, real-life, ducks-in-a-row adult.
But anyone who’s graduated college in the last decade knows that’s not the reality. You don’t shrug on your cap and gown and suddenly feel responsible, suddenly know how to file taxes and pay off loan debt. You don’t finish your last final and suddenly realize what you’re doing with your life. You don’t even know what you’re doing for the next six months.
Here’s the harsh reality about being a college grad right now: you’re caught in limbo.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ve accepted a job and you’re set for the temporary now. You have some sort of plan, but without job security, without tenure, and with a highly competitive market, you’ve been trained to not trust in the permanence of anything. Cynical? Maybe. Truth? Definitely.
Here’s the harsh reality about being a college grad right now: you’re caught in limbo. Suddenly, you are too old for college parties. That doesn’t mean you can’t attend them (by all means, do you boo boo) but suddenly your mindset has changed. You need to job hunt, you need to wake up early for the crappy part-time gig you’ve taken in the months between graduation and getting a ‘real career,’ and you have things to do that doesn’t include getting wasted on a Monday night. But you want to go to college parties. 
Your friends are either still in school or have graduated, left town (or not), started their lives (or are pretending to start their lives) and you’re desperate for someone to pregame with,  go out with. So you cyber-stalk all their social media , wondering who they’re hanging out with, who’s all at that party, and if they’re missing you.
But then there’s that part of you that scoffs. You’ve matured, you’ve changed, and you’ve left that college scene. You had your fun. Obligations, priorities, mature fun, and things that you could never afford or even dream up when you were that broken, tragic college seniors.
But still, you’re caught in limbo. There’s a laundry list of expectations that you’re supposed to live up to. You’re supposed to get that job, move, work, make money, be successful, date, marry, have children. Or something along those lines. And you’re nowhere near. (Which is okay, by the way. As long as you’re trying to get yourself together.)
Then there’s the realization that this is it, this is life. And you’re excited about the possibilities, the places you could go, the jobs you could take, and the potential significant others that are gallivanting around somewhere on this planet, wondering about the potential you. The future is limitless. But terrifying.
You’re caught between the familiar and the new, the comfortable and the unknown. There’s the person you’ve been for the last four years, and then there’s this new you—this post-grad you, this adult you—Are you the same person? Suddenly changed? A mix of both?
The post-grad world is strange. You’re not sure who you’re expected to be, and not really sure who you want to be. You’re trying your best to figure it out, to get that dream job, to find a place and a home and a future to claim as your own. But the naked truth about graduating college is that it’s not this paved, golden road. Yes, your education is valuable. And yes, you have a world of possibilities at your fingertips. But that doesn’t make it easier.
Graduating college, just like being in college, is another journey. And with any journey, you need faith, perseverance, hard work, a map, and your heart for when you throw your map out the window.
You’ll make it eventually. It just takes time. And a period of crappy, rough, who-am-I months. But at least you’re leaving on first food anymore, right? 

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An Open Letter to Class of 2016

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I sit here an hour  before my college last paper , excited but nervous for this new chapter in my life. I think about my freshman year, and it’s the same feeling of not knowing what to expect, the fear of the unknown. However, I do know that I’m graduating with incredible people, not only from my college, but from colleges all around the world.
To my fellow seniors, this letter is for you.

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To my fellow graduates of the class of 2016:

Can you believe it? The day we’ve been working so hard to get to is finally here. Four academic  years of learning in the classroom, hours spent in the library and all those all-hikes and bashes ; the hard work has truly paid off, and has lead us to this moment — graduation.

I look back and think where did the time go? September 2013, some of us were leaving home for the first time and getting ready to move into a college hostel  room preparing to live with someone new. Others were planning their commute for their first day of class. People always would say cherish your time in college, but looking back it’s crazy to think how fast time has actually flown by.

Take a moment and look back at the person you were on the first day of your freshman year and realize how these past four academic  years in college have shaped you to become the person you are today. Are you still friends with the people you were freshman year? What has changed since then? What remains the same?

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Even though our undergraduate college career is ending, it is also the beginning of a new chapter — the rest of our lives. Some of us may be heading to corporate positions, others are taking time to travel and others will continue their education. And for those of you who don’t know what the next step is, it’s okay. Freshman year we didn’t really know what we were getting into, and it turned out okay. I’m a big believer that some of the best things in life that happen are unplanned.

The thought of not having the security and comfort of college is scary. And even though we don’t know where we’ll be in 2 or 4 years, I encourage you to never lose the sight of your dreams. And I hope through every new page you turn in your book, that you continue to dream and dream big. Don’t be afraid to take risks, you’ll never know, if you don’t try and you don’t want to constantly wonder “What if?” Always believe in yourself, even through your challenges, don’t forget that you’ve already accomplished a huge milestone and that you are capable of achieving all of your goals.

President Obama said in a powerful speech that he gave in Selma, Alabama in 2016 “And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.” That quote is talking to us, the class of 2016. We are the young and fearless. There are opportunities that await us. We all come from diverse backgrounds, and each of our story’s are waiting to be heard. We are leaving college with a wealth of knowledge, leaving more educated than we started.

And we are the generation that everyone is looking at, we are the ones the nation is waiting to follow. It is up to us to continue to break barriers, to make a difference, to leave long lasting impressions and lastly to inspire others to do the same.

Class of 2016, we are the future. We are the movers and shakers. We are the next generation of leaders who will go on to change the world.

To the class of 2016, congratulations! We did it! Remember the world is yours.

Sincerely,

A fellow 2016 graduate.