Just one day after graduation, I see the countless “graduated and unemployed” posts popping up on my newsfeed, and I see these with sympathy – after all, I’m not immune to student loan debt – but I also view them with a certain level of hope. For my part, I don’t know exactly what I want to do. I recognize that I’ve just graduated and that the clock is ticking for me to figure my life out, but, for all intents and purposes, I have figured it out. I have my plan, and even though that involves not having a paying job for a few months while I apply for jobs (yes, that is, in fact, the master plan), travel, and generally try to figure out a little bit more about who and where I want to be now that I’m not “Hope Swedeen, Student at Susquehanna University,” I’m pretty confident that I’ll be fine. I don’t say this because I did things “right” or because the world is just magically at my fingertips. I say this because I haven’t been looking at graduation as the last day or the first day of my two separate lives. I haven’t looked at graduation with sadness or with regrets or with fear. The most I can say for myself is that I was completely ready to not have homework for a little while. But never once did I think, “This is the end” or “This is the beginning” that day. I simply thought, “Keep going.” And that’s what I intend to do.
I’m going to keep going, moving forward with whatever plans I already have or make along the way, and nothing is going to stop me from moving, from changing, from progressing into new stages of my life. Sure, I may be sleeping on my parents’ couch for a few months. I might even be babysitting my brothers and doing chores around the house as though nothing has changed. But at the end of the day, nothing I’m doing is permanent. I hope to keep changing, to keep making plans and pursuing them as fiercely as possible. And right now, the plan is to work on my blog posts, work on my resume, work on expanding my literal horizons, and work on the indent I’m hoping to create in the couch without having to worry about whether I’m forgetting about an assignment. At least for now. (I just graduated. Give me a break).
So for those of you who are nervous about graduating from high school, leaving behind friends or family or lifestyles to pursue the next step, just remember: things aren’t ending; they’re progressing. You’re not leaving people; you’re welcoming new ones. You’re not leaving home; you’re making a home for yourself somewhere else. You’re not starting down a career path; you’re forging your own path. Whatever you end up doing, wherever you end up going after graduation, don’t be afraid, and don’t be sad; just be you, and just keep going. Keep trying to reach your goals, find new dreams if plan A falls through, and be prepared for changes, whether they’re welcome or not. Whatever you do, don’t pay too much attention to the ends and beginnings. Pay attention to this ongoing thing we all call life, and use each day as a means to an end, a building block for all the days after, not an end in itself.
What are your long-term goals? What are you doing now to reach those goals?