Everyone seems to talk about the upsides of graduating: no more classes, no more all-nighters after partying a little too much the day before and, perhaps best of all, no more being woken up by the musical honks of fighting geese outside my Cougar Village bedroom window.
Of course, I’m excited by the thought of no more research papers, at least until I inevitably pursue a master’s degree. However, I am jealous of the security my underclassmen friends still hold onto.
For them, there is no pressure to find a full-time job right away. After all, what was the point of busting my butt to maintain a 4.0 GPA while holding a job, internships and club memberships if I don’t have anything to show for it soon after graduating? However, my job and senior assignment among other responsibilities have kept me so busy that I haven’t had time to submit applications, and I’ll be graduating without something lined up.
Then there is the fact that I will be moving four hours away from all of the friends I’ve made these past four years; while I loved SIUE for providing an opportunity to get more in touch with nature, it’s a bit of a trek from my hometown of New Lenox, Illinois, where I will be returning until I am able to support myself.
Graduation leaves a lot unknown. I don’t know where I will be living or working a year from now, and I don’t know who I’ll be spending my time with. It means changes that I am not necessarily ready to make for myself but rather changes that are being handed out to me.
I’m incredibly thankful for my time at SIUE. The mentors, friends and opportunities I’ve had here have given me more confidence in both personal and professional capacities. College has been a safe space — I know I can succeed in my classes and at my job now, but moving forward I don’t have the same security.
All these big changes mean I’m not sure where life will take me. Of course, we can dream and make plans, but nothing is for certain. I still have a top-notch support system back home made up of friends and family, but they cannot make sure someone offers me a job.
I can only trust in myself to know I performed well at school and in my internships. I recognize I’m leaving school in a more privileged position compared to many of my peers; I was able to work for a few unpaid internships to build up experience and I earned an academic scholarship that paid my tuition for four years. However, leaving college, I still don’t know what will happen.
My main wish is that people would understand the stress and uncertainty I’m facing — everyone seems to be making graduation out to be this amazing new step in my life, but I don’t know if the excitement will really hit until I have a little more stability. Maybe I’m instilling these expectations upon myself, but they seem so high — I only hope I can measure up.