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  • Writer's pictureDr. Cynthia Shaw

Congrats, You Graduated! So, What's Next?

Updated: Jul 18


Hey, recent graduate! First, let me give you a big, virtual high-five and say, "Congratulations!" You did it! You navigated the treacherous waters of college or grad school, and now you're standing on the other side with a shiny new diploma in hand. That's quite an achievement.


Now that you've tossed your graduation cap into the air, it's time to embark on the next chapter of your life. But hold on – because I know that behind that celebratory facade, you might feel overwhelmed by all the changes, the uncertainty, and the challenges ahead. Suddenly, you're faced with the world's vastness and the many paths and choices before you, and it's natural to question or doubt your purpose and plan in this grand scheme of things.


From coping with the bittersweet feeling of leaving your college friends behind to tackling imposter syndrome and balancing your newfound freedom with responsibilities and decisions, I'm here to offer guidance and support. So, take a deep breath, and let's navigate this post-graduation phase together!






The Loneliness of Moving Away from Friends


Moving away from friends after graduation can be a lonely and disorienting experience. Gone are the days of spontaneous hangouts in the dorms or grabbing a coffee between classes. Now, you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory, separated from the comfort and camaraderie you've grown accustomed to during your academic years, feeling like a fish out of water.


Thankfully, the world is brimming with opportunities to make new friends and connect with like-minded individuals. So wherever you are, start by putting yourself out there, and know it's okay to start where you feel most comfortable. Join clubs or groups that align with your interests, take up a new hobby, volunteer in your community, or find local events or classes to meet like-minded people. In addition, try to take comfort in knowing that everyone is in the same boat, trying to build new connections, and navigating the post-graduation world.


On that note, let's not forget the wonders of technology to not only help you find new connections but maintain current ones and even reach out to old friends who might be living in the same area. Embrace social media and online communities to stay connected with your friends from college. Schedule regular video chats, send each other hilarious memes, or plan visits to keep the connection strong. Just remember, whether new friendships or old, they take time to develop and keep alive, so be patient and open-minded.







Imposter Syndrome and Financial Insecurity


Ah, imposter syndrome, that sneaky little voice in your head convincing you that you're a fraud and everyone else has their life together. Combine it with the financial insecurity that comes with entering the world of "adulting," it's enough to make anyone feel a little shaky.


Social media doesn't help, either. As you scroll through everyone else's highlight reels, it seems they're all living their best lives while you're stuck wondering how to pay your bills or how you've even landed the job you got to pay them in the first place.


The first step to combatting imposter syndrome is recognizing that it's incredibly common, especially during major life transitions like this. Talk about your feelings with trusted friends, family, or a therapist who can offer you support and guidance.


Limiting your exposure to the highlight reels of social media is also essential. Everyone's journey is unique, and comparing yourself to others will only fuel those feelings of inadequacy, stress, and self-doubt. Focus on your progress and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem.


As you work toward feeling more confident and secure where you are, you can also take steps toward financial security. Create a budget, track your expenses, and explore ways to supplement your income if needed. Remember, financial stability takes time, so be patient with yourself.


Fear of the Unknown and Making Big Decisions


After graduation, life can feel like staring into a vast, open field with no map or compass. Decision fatigue becomes all too real as you're bombarded with choices about career paths, living arrangements, and more.


While having an endless array of choices that finally feel like only yours can be exhilarating, it can also be equally terrifying, and the weight of making the "right" decision can be overwhelming. However, decision-making doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing, leap-of-faith endeavor – take your time; you don't have to figure it all out in one day.


Break down your decisions into smaller, more manageable steps, such as by weighing your options thoroughly. Trust your gut, but also seek advice from trusted mentors, career counselors, or professionals in the field you're interested in. Above all, embrace the idea that mistakes may seem like missteps at first, but you have the choice to view them as stepping stones leading you somewhere better.


Struggling to Find a Meaningful Job or Career


The job search can be an arduous and confusing endeavor. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack while wearing a blindfold. The frustration is real. However, you can find a career that aligns with your passions and values with the right mindset and approach.


Your education and experiences have equipped you with a diverse skill set that can be applied to various fields, so embrace the beauty of an interdisciplinary career path. Don't limit yourself to conventional notions of what your degree should lead to – explore different industries and job roles.


Finding a meaningful job or career can be a winding journey rather than a straightforward path. Along the way, take calculated risks and pursue opportunities that resonate with you, but know that you can always change your course.

Finally, remember that the journey is just as important as the destination, so embrace the process of discovering something that brings your life meaning.







Balancing Free Time and Responsibility


Oh, the freedom of a flexible schedule. No more class schedules or assignments to keep track of. It sounds fantastic, right? Well, you may already be finding that it's also a bit of a double-edged sword. Suddenly, you have all this free time and responsibility, and getting lost in the abyss of unstructured days is easy.


Creating structure and routine outside of school is crucial, so establish a new routine and schedule that works for you. Break your day into manageable chunks, dedicating time to work, self-care, and leisure activities. Set specific goals and deadlines for yourself, just like for school assignments. Experiment with different productivity techniques and find what suits you best.


And remember the importance of self-care as you learn to strike a balance between it and productivity. Avoid burnout by relaxing as you use this newfound freedom to explore your interests, take up hobbies, and invest in your personal growth.


Embrace the Journey and Reach Out for Support!


To all the recent graduates out there, remember that the feelings of uncertainty, loneliness, and self-doubt are normal. You're navigating uncharted waters, and it's okay to feel lost.


I encourage you to embrace the journey of life transitions because amid the challenges lie endless opportunities for growth and self-discovery. And if you need someone to chat with or want extra guidance, don't hesitate to contact me at Authentically Living Psychological Services. I'm here to support you through this transition and help you find your footing in the post-graduation world.


So, chin up, my dear graduate. The future may be uncertain, but you've got this. Your best days are still ahead of you. Now go out there and embrace the adventure, laugh at the absurdity, and keep marching forward!

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