This May will mark the official end of your undergraduate career. Perhaps you had the best 4 years of your life or at least 2.5. Maybe all of it was bad or at least you felt like it was. Nevertheless, I would like to share a few words of wisdom with you. Many will ask you what your next step is, where you plan to go in the fall, or if you have a job lined up. Ignore them all. Yes, even family. Only answer if you feel comfortable. In fact, just so you can avoid hearing that question go on ahead and wear a sign that says “DO NOT ASK ME WHAT MY NEXT STEP AFTER COLLEGE IS, SIGNED MANAGEMENT.”
I’m not sure if anyone realizes this when they are asking the question but it’s got to be the most nerve racking and insensitive comment for a graduate. Hell, even if you do have a job lined up, it’s a scary thought. I had a job lined up but trust me that did not go as planned at all (story for another day).
Anyways, as a college senior all types of ideas are running through one’s head as a soon to be graduate or graduate. Am I making the right move? Have I done enough to fulfill my time here at school? Most importantly, will I make it out there?
Well, I can answer those questions. Seriously, take it from me or maybe not. To be quite honest most, if not all of us still don’t know what we’re doing after we enter this metaphorical real world. I believe college is just as real as it gets, it just gets realer when you’re out of school and people expect you to know things that you’ve never been taught or told you need to know.
One thing is for sure, life after college can bring on a slew of emotions and confusion. You can have a job after college, think you’re set, then boom you realize this is absolutely not what you want to be doing. Then what? Do you just up and quit? Yes, and no. If you end up in this situation, please take your time to do plan accordingly before leaving (actually trust me on this one).
Perhaps you’ll leave college without a job lined up but you have connections to one of your old summer jobs back home, please do not be proud or boastful. Pick up that damn phone and get some cash. Some money is better than no money.
Also, maybe you’re going back to school because you feel it is the right thing to do, and that is great. Make sure to get as much rest over the summer but not too much, so that you are prepared for your next educational pursuit.
For my people who are taking a gap year or a break indefinitely. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. You are not defined by how many degrees or debt you rack up by age 30, trust me, there is no degree competition out here. We are all just steady trying to make it day by day.
Specifically for my people going back to school and may not have done so well in undergraduate, graduate school is not your time to just get wasted all the time. Please act accordingly and find a mentor, especially if you are moving to a new area. This is the best time to create a new reputation, make it a splendid one.
For my people, who realized too late that school wasn’t for you and didn’t drop out before your debt piled up, I see you too. The workforce is just fine as well, please don’t beat yourself up by comparing your life or path to others. Also, now that you do have this Bachelor’s of (Insert name here), you do have a higher chance of getting a higher paying job. So find something that interests you, tweak that resume up a bit and get to applying.
Also, the post college depression is not a myth, it can hit you like a ton of bricks but please don’t let it get you all the way down. Allow those feelings to come and go like the breeze of the wind. It will pass. You are not defined by having a job or not having one. Only you can define yourself, and I mean that sincerely.
For all my graduates, if there is one thing I would like to share with you, please ask for help. One thing I regret from college is holding in all my pain and needs so much. Yes, there were times when I asked for help but it was very rare. Instead of reaching out to staff, peers, and friends, you could find me in my dorm room curled up into a ball in the worse crying spell or anxiety attack. All this because of pride, fear of judgement and not wanting to appear weak in front of others.
As an RA, Vice President of an organization, and the girl who held a minimum of 3 jobs on campus per semester, I wanted to appear strong at all times. Without the financial or much emotional support of family, I felt that I was all I had. Therefore, I refused to reach out because I didn’t want to bother others. I rarely if ever told my family about how depressed I was in college or after (well now I’m more open). But, I say all that to say, asking for help doesn’t make you weaker, it can only make you stronger.
For those who remember me at my graduation from Montclair State University in 2016, you probably recall seeing me on crutches (picture below). I fell at my senior send off event just days before graduation and thankfully came out with only a knee sprain. I was due to move to New Orleans for a job through Teach for America, so you know my moving struggle was oh so real. Nevertheless, I am almost sure that God/The Universe made this happen as a major lesson for me. Throughout college I had held onto so many burdens on my own, even if the load felt too heavy, I would crawl until I could carry it on my own.
Yes, I was able to make it for the most part but I struggled in damn near agony over my 4 years of college. With that said, finally at the last moment I am forced to ask for help. Once I fell, it was as if something snapped in me. God told me to let go of my pride, break down these walls called “fear of judgement,” and to ask for what I needed. I remember crying into my friend’s arms as if she were my mother, “Tosin, I’m not going to make it. Why is this happening?” is what I remember saying. Thankfully, I had three good friends with me that night that all ensured that I got to the ER safely and back home too. Also, thankfully the open bar had me intoxicated enough not to feel all of the pain.
Anyways, I learned in that moment that I had been carrying so much weight of pain on my own and it was time for me to receive the support I had been so afraid of asking for. I’ve always been a person who always felt the need to do for others, be selfless and put myself last. But, God told me that needed to end. Granted, I’m still working on that part of me but for the most part that’s the message I received.
Someone on crutches can’t do much on their own without hopping all over the place. I felt so low, so embarrassed and just awful. However, once I began asking and reaching out to others who I had also helped throughout college, it dawned on me: “I too deserve an outpour of love and support.”
Dear graduate, you also deserve that love and support. There are people here for you, willing and ready to help if you would just ask. As the great hood philosopher Ace Hood says in Hustle Hard”Closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard.” So hustle hard but ask more. Get out there and network. You never know who is waiting to bless you with an opportunity.
Above all, don’t be afraid of failing. A degree doesn’t automatically mean everything will be perfect for you once you cross that stage BUT you have proved to the universe that you are built for the struggle. You will be rewarded for all of your efforts, just please ask for help, and always “get up 10,” like the hood philosopher Cardi B says in her latest hit.
Ohh and dear graduate, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
P.S. If you all need resume or cover letter writing and/or tips don’t hesitate to ask me. I know that the struggle is real so there will be a special sale for college graduates. More details to come but for now you can check out Splendid Writing Services for general information.
Serenity, Smiles and Positive Vibes,