May has arrived, and chances are you're already thinking about graduation, whether you're a high school senior deciding between colleges or a college senior deciding what's next for you.
Preparing to graduate and embark on a new chapter is an exciting milestone, but it can also trigger feelings of anxiety and stress, which is normal. If looking at your cap and gown hanging in your closet makes you sick, or if your best friends start talking about being apart next year, we’ve got some tips to help you combat these overwhelming feelings.
Reflect on all you’ve accomplished.
As soon as you graduate or the days leading up to the big moment everyone’s all been waiting for, it’s super easy to obsess over your “five-year plan,” or perhaps the fact that you don’t have a plan in place at all. Before you start worrying about where you want to be in the next five years, focus on the fact that you’ve just closed a pivotal chapter in your life and that you’ve worked really hard to get to this point.
It's key to be kind to yourself. You deserve to celebrate yourself and be proud of your achievements — big and small! It's easy to cheer on the people around you for all the amazing things they've done, but don't forget to show yourself that support, too.
Curate a playlist fit for this era of your life.
Music has the power to take you to a certain moment or bring up certain memories. It’s always a satisfying idea to press play on the songs that get us through the everyday journeys like reaching new goals, setting the seasonal mood or prepping for life change — all of which you are doing as a graduate. What better way to celebrate your accomplishments than with some good music?
Creating a playlist full of songs and sounds special to you and dedicated to your academic journey will take you from the joyous highs to the bittersweet goodbyes, as you turn your tassel and throw your cap.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
One of the most important lessons you'll learn after graduation is that everyone achieves success at their own pace. Although you will have peers who advance in their careers more quickly than you, it is critical that you do not compare yourself to others and their achievements.
Everyone (including and especially you) will have a chance to shine. Just be patient, and the right opportunity will present itself. Plus, not being 100% sure about what comes next just means that you'll have a little more time to explore and figure out where you want to be.
Don’t neglect your body and mind.
While it might seem like common sense, make sure you’re eating healthy, drinking enough water, getting enough exercise and giving yourself adequate sleep. After college, your body will begin to tell you that it can no longer pull all-nighters or survive on a junk food diet. When you concentrate on becoming the best version of yourself — on the inside and out — you will feel more optimistic about your goals and the future.
Prepare for what comes next.
Global popstar Taylor Swift said it best in her acclaimed 2022 NYU commencement speech: “Scary news is: You're on your own now. Cool news is: You're on your own now.”
It's scary to think about graduation and the inevitable transitions life will bring, but you also have a lot to look forward to — and there's no better time to start preparing for what's ahead. There are so many meaningful experiences for you to anticipate, whether it's shopping for your college dorm, deciding on the right graduate program, moving to a new city, or all of the above.
Transitioning into your post-grad journey can be overwhelming. What is meant for you will come to you if you believe in yourself, show patience, and trust what the future holds. You’ll also discover the moment you stop worrying about how everything “should” be, you’ll see more opportunities to create the life you’ve always dreamed of living.
And as always, YR Media wants to congratulate the Class of 2027!
For informational resources, check out The Youth Mental Health Project.