Dear College Graduate

5 Tips for the Next Chapter

2

Class of 2015. We made it. We journeyed through those trying years – 4, 5, or maybe some more victory laps. But after it all, we made it. Now here we are – diplomas in hand and we’re supposed to be ready to conquer what the rest of life has to offer. Some of us will go on to to continue our educations, some of us will move across the country, some across the world, some back home. Some will start their big industry jobs, some will start the job search, some will start businesses and companies. Some of us will be in denial while some of us will welcome “adulthood” with open arms. Some of us will start planning weddings, some will find every app to swipe left or right, some will remain hopeless(ful) romantics. Some of us will chase our passions fearlessly. Some of us will put those on hold: some out of fear, some because of something called student loans.

We’ll figure out how to finally write checks and do our own taxes. How to stop asking whether utilities are included, because they’re probably not. We’ll promise to hold on to the friendships we made. Vow to make vacations with friends a regular thing. We’ll question if we’re ready, time and time again. Class of 2015, as we’ve closed one chapter and are about to begin another, we’ll need to be strong and purposeful. We’ll need to understand that life will throw some curveballs but God won’t give us more than we can handle. We’ll make mistakes, and those mistakes will make us stronger. I haven’t experienced life after college for more than a month thus far, but here are some words of wisdom I will hold on to as I navigate this next chapter. Hi, real life.

Stop Comparing Yourself

We live in a culture of over-sharing but please never feel as though you are under-achieving based on someone else’s Facebook post or Instagram feed. I know we hear it all the time, but do we truly internalize it? That social media is really the curated version of a person’s life. It’s the highs without the lows. Never assume you know the whole picture of someone’s story. Your friends will have accomplishments, they’ll work and live at fancy places, they’ll travel the world. Join in being happy for them. Someone else’s success does not validate nor void your success. Rather than comparing, count your blessings, and continue on your path. Everyone has a journey, embrace where you are on yours.

Don’t try to plan everything

I’ll be at ___ place in my life by this age, I’ll be engaged by this age, etc. As much as we wish we could, the future still remains this mystical world of the unknown. Take life day by day. (We all know tomorrow isn’t promised). Think back to the number of plans you made for your life that didn’t exactly work out like you thought. Sometimes it worked out better. Sometimes… not. Nonetheless, let the magic of the world do its thing and simply trust His timing.

If it seems slow, wait for it;
 it will surely come; it will not delay. – Habakkuk 2:3

Start breaking bad habits, start building good ones

I procrastinate on responding to emails because I’m nervous I don’t have the perfect response. Sometimes I don’t do laundry until I’ve run out of underwear. I don’t get my oil change when I should because I don’t like waiting. I’m a clean freak, you may be disgustingly messy. We all have our not-so-good and sometimes awful habits but they can be broken. If you’re a habitual procrastinator, make a daily to-do list and insist on not going to sleep until everything is checked off. They say it takes 2 weeks to break or form a habit or whatever the quote is. We’re not kids anymore. Get in the routine of building good habits and being the person you want to be. We all shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes, and we never understand why. Let’s try to do that a lot less.

Find peace within yourself

So we’ve opened this new chapter right… and closed the old? With that, we should also rid ourselves of whatever baggage or pain that came before. Find peace within yourself before you begin this new stage in your life. Love yourself — your whole self and know that you are worthy of love. Be strong but know it’s okay to cry. Pray while the sun rises, do yoga while you watch it set. Be transparent with those who love you. Know your truth, live it, and tell it. You know you better than anyone else, you know what peace means for you. Go out there and find it.

Chase your own happiness

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

If there’s anything I believe in, it’s that we only are given one life, one chance at this, and we should spend it chasing our own happiness. Don’t live your life striving to please others. Leave your graduate program if that’s not where you want to be, uproot yourself and move if you don’t see yourself progressing where you are. Be selfish when you can and live life for yourself. Find what puts a smile on your face and embrace that with open arms. Let go of those things and people that bring you down — that’s never how life was meant to be lived. Challenge yourself to your own happiness, and see what comes of it.

Give Back

I know there are supposed to be *five* tips, but I thought this was important that I didn’t want to leave it off. Treat it like a bonus, it might be the most crucial tip on this list. As we proceed through life, we’ll overcome mountains. We’ve already achieved a milestone many wish for, many don’t think they could even aspire to. Always remember to reach down your hand and help people up the ladder once you’ve climbed it. Go back to your community, or create one where you are. Give back to nature, to society, give back to the world that forged you to become the person you are. It doesn’t matter how you give back, just never forget to.

Lastly, I leave with some of my favorite Bible verses.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3: 5-6

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

I hope that college will not have been the best four years of your life, and that there are many more better years to come. With that said, let life begin.