School's over. Now what?


Graduation seems to be one of the biggest days of our lives. Whether it be from college or high school, it’s something that seems like what you want more than anything while you’re striving for it. I graduated from the University of North Florida on April 28. It took me six years to get my bachelor’s (changed majors, then double-majored). Over those long years, I can remember endlessly wishing for it to be over, crying about unmet deadlines, and having anxiety attacks when I didn’t get the grades I thought I deserved. I felt like once I graduated, my life would finally begin and I would have it all together like all the other successful adults.

When graduation day rolled around, I felt an excitement I had never felt before. I was so proud of my accomplishments. My family was there cheering me on, telling me how proud they were and weeping with delight; seriously, I could see my dad crying in the stands when I was walking to my seat. Everyone congratulating you and showering you with gifts and money, I mean, who doesn’t like that? But with that comes the big question everyone likes to ask: “What are you going to do now?”

Then the harsh reality hits you. Wait, seriously, what now? When you’re in school, no one likes to mention a little thing I’ve started calling the Graduation Blues. Since graduation, I have fallen into a serious funk. I can’t seem to escape the uncertainty of life. I don’t have a job, I have lived in the same place my entire life, and I am unclear where I stand in certain relationships.

So what now? My whole life is about to change and it’s time to take one of the biggest steps in my life. It’s time to start a career, but what career? Shouldn’t I travel? Wait, Mom and Dad, you want me to move out now? How do I say goodbye to all my friends? These are the things I have been obsessing over for the last few weeks.

Reading job descriptions is an unholy nightmare. I am unqualified for all my dream jobs. I keep being told you have to start anywhere they hire you. Oh, so I am supposed to accept any job that’s available and be miserable for five years and then just maybe, I’ll find something better? Heck, no, not me, I refuse to settle for anything that doesn’t light my soul on fire.

So, fellow graduates, if you’re suffering from the Graduation Blues, know that you’re not alone. Take this time to question everything. Your entire life does hang on this. Pick something out of your comfort zone, apply for that job a thousand miles from home, go backpack through Europe and drink the green stuff that causes some freaky hallucinations. When you are lying on your deathbed, you want to think, ‘I truly did what I loved and enjoyed my life,’ not ‘I settled for a job and life everyone expected me to have.’

Go explore the world and explore yourself. In the words of Belle from Beauty and the Beast, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.” Now go find your adventure.

Kitchens is a recent college graduate and former intern at Folio Weekly.

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