It’s been seven months since I graduated from college.
Upon returning from Washington D.C. to Concordia in April, I found myself saying a brief hello & goodbye to my fellow peers whom I had invested my previous four years of undergrad with, and preparing myself for the new adventure that I knew lie ahead. I graduated from college in May and found myself leaving the world of academia and venturing out into the world… to a fourth summer of working at my beloved Montana bible camp.
Following an enriching last summer of embracing my inner child energies, I again ventured out into the world - for a few weeks of traveling - until I decided to return home.
Home, to Fargo, North Dakota - the place of my childhood. The town where I spent my elementary, teenage, and subsequently college years.
And now, the town where I currently am practicing how to become an “actual” adult.
(*Yes, I specifically say “practicing” because many days I still feel as if I’m not a “real” adult. Although I’m twenty-three and have a “real” job - as in, an 8-5/5 days a week job with benefits - and I live away from home, I continue to feel like I’m a kid half of the time. Any college grads relate???)
With all of this being said, life is good. After being away from Fargo for nearly eight months, it was comforting to return home. Because let me tell ya, senior year of college is weird. It’s a year full of transitions and change. And although change can be exciting and great, it also can be difficult to adjust to dramatic switches in routine. Because instead of having your path clearly laid out in the form of an academic year, for the first time, you realize that following graduation your life won’t be so plainly mapped out. Following college graduation you will no longer have a clear schedule and strict guidelines showing you the way, but instead, it can be whatever you want - a simultaneously terrifying and freeing reality. You will say goodbye to your college community (which has become your safe haven throughout the past four years) and you will welcome into your arms - whether you’re ready or not - the future. Your future, whatever you want that to be. It could be more school, any sort of job, marriage, parenting… all worthwhile endeavors and adventures. And it is all up to you.
For someone such as myself, I’ve never quite known exactly what I want my future to look like. I have broad range goals, but the specifics remain aloof. Being someone who thrives off of people and a diverse set of experiences, I know what I like and what I don’t. However, applying my broad criteria to a specific job has proven to be a bit more difficult than I originally foresaw. Throughout my academic journey, I was someone who thrived off of the energy of school and its people. I loved the community and opportunity to connect with people my own age over the smallest of topics. I found class discussions stimulating and I loved all of the opportunities that were seemingly right at my fingertips, and whether I decided to seize them or not they were there, wonderful resources in the form of events, individuals, and places. I loved college and (nearly) my entire academic journey. And for these reasons, I dream of someday continuing my education, regardless of what that might look like.
However, for now - I feel content in this new chapter of life called “post-grad.”
Granted, I have my days when I struggle to be in the present and I find myself dwelling on the fact that I have yet to figure out exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life. But, on the bright side, I have a fantastic job, live with two wonderful gals, and have become involved with activities and groups that fill my time in the best way possible. I get to see my family whenever I want along with my very best friend who remains in the area too. Some of my college friends have even stuck around the Fargo-Moorhead area so it’s fun to see them when I can. Life is better than good; life is excellent.
* Sidenote - It’s funny, I’ve realized something since entering the workforce: we’re all just big kids trying to find our own paths. And although many of us are seemingly at different stages, we all crave similar things: purpose, community, and a sense of peace. Many of us go through life observing people who are older than we and think that they have it all together. And then (at least for me) I get to that seemingly same age or stage and realize, heck, I don’t feel nearly as mature as they appeared, nor do I have it all figured out. Perspective is interesting in that way.
In a nutshell, let me repeat, post grad is a strange time. It’s a transition, and as is the case with most life transitions, they can be tough. Throughout this past year of change, I have undeniably grieved the “loss” of school and community. However, these significant changes, they are all part of the journey. While there is a sense of lost community when leaving college, you keep in touch with those whom you truly care about. And on the plus side, instead of studying all of the time, you finally have enough time to pursue non-school related interests along with having more time for yourself. However, if you’re anything like me, this acceptance of a new chapter comes with time. It takes time to process any major life transition, which undeniably includes the transition from undergrad to “real” adulting.
In closing, I must share a few words from a good friend of mine. As I was leaving Washington D.C. in April and dwelling on the reality of postgrad, this friend - who is a bit older than I - summarized his post grad experience in a fantastic text message. He shared these wise words:
I remember feeling relieved at first around graduation because I really wanted to start working and I wanted to get through exams, papers, presentations, etc. Shortly after graduation, though, I remember how much I missed going to school -- classes, clubs, study sessions, and I’d say it really boiled down to my missing the conduit to fun learning opportunities and interesting interpersonal interactions. You can’t let graduation be the closing act, however, and it’s important to keep looking for those opportunities wherever you can. Graduation, for me, represented the watershed moment where the onus was now on the graduates (me) to create and find those fulfilling activities and experiences instead of having everything served on a platter the way things are in student life/student affairs. So, of course, there are elements of undergrad that I really miss, but I have really enjoyed my life in the labor force!
Life is full of transitions and change. Don’t fear these changes, but instead realize that it might take time to fully process and adjust to new chapters. Continue to find those activities and people that sustain and energize you. Don’t settle, but don’t dwell too far in the past or the future either. Be in the now. And be thankful. A thankful mindset and attitude is the best place to dwell.
That’s all for now. Happy transitioning to whichever new season of life you might find yourself in!
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.