If you’re sitting there reflecting back on your experience in college and now wondering where you go from here- don’t worry. You’re not alone as you enter this new territory of being just graduated and unsure where to go from here. Life in college (and school in general) wasn’t as unnerving because it was structured and sure it had several choices that let you tailor it to your preferences. But at the end of the day, being in that structured environment helped you feel like you were on the right path and you knew where it was going. Now that you’re graduated, you might now feel unsure of where the path is and maybe questioning if you were even on the right path in the first place.
These are all shared feelings and anxieties that most people who just graduated feel and experience. You’re entering a new chapter in your life and, like all change, it’s scary and unknown. But once you realize and accept that, you can also begin to see and get excited about all the new opportunities that are right in front of you. There isn’t just that one path in front of you that you were on in college that was leading you to graduation. Now, there are many, arguably infinite, different paths in front of you that you can choose from. Take advantage of this and get excited that you get to now shape your life however you want that will make you happy and successful. But if you’re still wondering “yeah that’s great, but now what?” then here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Find a Job You Love
This may seem cliche but if you just graduated and you’re wondering what to do, well, maybe it’s time to find a job. I know that’s what you’ve been “working toward” and what your parents have been pushing you toward since sending you off freshman year of college. It’s important to remember though that you don’t have to settle. If you really want a successful and happy life then finding some boring job where you’re just “working for the weekend” won’t cut it.
Maybe you’ve known what your dream job is for years and that’s why you studied for it in college and now you’re ready to pursue that, and that’s amazing. But if that’s not the case for you, you’re absolutely not alone and shouldn’t be ashamed in admitting to yourself you really need to think about what you want to do. It takes time and effort to look and research and even try out different jobs and career paths that make you excited to work and more importantly make you happy. Your career will take up a fair amount of your life so it’s really important to put in the time and effort to find the right one for you.
2. Get In Shape
If you’ve just graduated and you came home to look in the mirror and see those “freshman-15” pounds still there then maybe it’s time to do something about it. Now that your schedule will be more straightforward without exams or projects you could find the time to really get back into shape. It can be really motivating and mood-changing to get onto a consistent exercise schedule and to work on your body and health. This doesn’t mean you need to spend all day every day in the gym and push yourself to exhaustion.
But consistent exercise can help your body and even your mind in relieving stress which would help you in having healthier and more stable moods and a state of mind. Let’s face it being just graduated and unsure what to do next can be unnerving and terrifying! If you’re unsure of where to go in terms of work, or if you are working but still feel stressed and anxious about life, then start working out. Help your body and mind and put some time into yourself and you’ll notice the difference.
If you just graduated and don’t have any plans once getting back home this could stress you out. You’ve been on such a consistent schedule in college that going back home and having nothing planned or nothing to do can be unnerving. If it’s possible, take some time off and do some traveling! Getting in your car and hitting the road can be an exciting thing to do when you don’t have many obligations. Of course, you need some money to be able to do something such as this.
However, it has the potential for some amazing experiences and stories! Instead of driving maybe you can get some cheap flight tickets out to Greece or Italy and meet some new people and see some amazing things. Traveling can help you broaden out your mind from the “college bubble” you’ve maybe been stuck in during those four years. There’s a whole world outside of your campus and reading about it or seeing it on TV isn’t enough. You need to be there and experience it for yourself to truly understand. Traveling after you’ve just graduated can help motivate or inspire you to find how/where you might want to spend your life. If you can, take advantage of an opportunity of freedom to explore!
4. Take Time for Yourself
This may seem like a given based on the other suggestions I’ve given above, but it’s crucial. If you just graduated it can be really helpful and important to take time for yourself. You’re probably wondering just what that means. It could mean you take the time to workout and exercise, or to travel around and see the world. But those are just some examples. Working out might be more stress and hard work than you’re used to or traveling around with limited funds can also be stressful.
For many people, an important part of “taking time for yourself” is to relax. College can be an extremely stressful and busy time for many people. Being constantly stressed over the next midterm or project for four years can take a serious toll on you and your mental health. Not to mention the new and overwhelming stress of being just graduated and moving back home and into a new, unknown chapter of your life. If you feel like you need to, and have the ability to do so of course, then maybe the best thing you can do for yourself after graduating is to take some time off.
Take some time off from working and obligations and let your mind unwind after being in school for the last 16 years or so. This is likely the first time since kindergarten that you don’t have to be enrolled in school and under the stress the follows. Yes, it’s important to get a job and work on your life so this doesn’t mean you get an excuse to sit around watching Netflix all day for the next couple of months. But taking care of yourself is just as important as working on your career and don’t forget that.
Being just graduated is a scary and unknown chapter and if you need the time for yourself then take it! Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed because many other recent grads out there likely need a break too. Be proud that you’re mature enough to realize what’s the best and healthiest way for you to start this new chapter of your life now being just graduated from college.