It’s been almost a year since I graduated New York University. And it’s been a full year full of uncertainty and the beginning of my journey to discover what I really want out of life. I know so many people who are graduating this month from universities across the country and I wanted to share my experience and some words of comfort for those who are in the same place I was in.
I am going to back up a bit to give you a more detailed background on my academic history, let’s start from the beginning. I entered NYU with as much as excitement as I could have mustered at that time. Flying across the Atlantic to study my freshmen year at Florence, Italy was something I could have never fathomed when applying to colleges. Weird to think that was almost 6 years ago! Traveling through Europe for a year was and still is one of the best years of my life.
Returning to NYC during my sophomore year, I was ready to take on internships and the big apple. Everyone had jobs and I truly felt the hustle. People were working at the Big Four companies, interning at startups that were creating innovations beyond imagination and all the while studying their butts of. So along with the crowd, I got my first internship at a law firm and it was an amazing experience. I have to admit that I did get lucky with my boss who is still an amazing mentor today.
And as my college years flower into senior year, I went through several other internships while studying. Not having a job/internship was something that was almost looked down upon. I mean everyone was achieving something amazing..it was hard to keep up with what else someone has accomplished. I felt like I was just pushed into that culture of needing to do something and achieving the next big thing. Idling around was not an option.
As I entered the second semester of my senior year at NYU, I began to think about life after college. My career and how I can advance further in my education loomed at the forefront of my thoughts. I was scared because I didn’t have any after-graduation plans, anxious that things won’t work out and also excited because I was finally getting a diploma! I’m sure a lot of you soon-to-be graduates or already graduates fell the same way as me.
I tried to push all those thoughts aside by focusing on my internship at the time and also on my grades….determined to finish strong. And I tried to be stressed with other minuscule things like finding the perfect graduation dress ahaha. But through the late nights and silent moments, the thoughts of insecurity always managed to lurk back into my mind. How could I have paid $250K and graduated with no full-time offer?
This is a common question that is asked amongst recent grads. Even though your circle might all have jobs lined up and their life planned out, the majority of grads have no idea where they are headed next. Going to a top university doesn’t stop the world from becoming real or the fact that we can no longer hide behind our school name. Stripped of my constant schedule and comfortable lifestyle that I had gotten accustomed to in the past 4 years, I was in a state of severe uncertainty.
Instead of applying to all the jobs out there, I took time to really think about what I want to do with my life. Granted, I know that is a luxury given the fact that my parents really pushed to ensure I was happy and going towards what I truly want to do. I knew I ultimately wanted to back to school, but I definitely needed to do something while I studied for the LSATs. After some significant time, I began to apply and really tried to hone in on certain fields. And that process was in itself a crazy period of a million questions lingering in the air. When will I find a job? Will I get a call back? Is this the right job? Another interview?!
Graduation week is always going to be a week that I will never forget. I still remember the look on my family’s faces when I got my diploma. That diploma doesn’t just represent your hard work, but also all the sacrifices that the people around you have invested for the past 4 or so years. I know this will be hard but instead of focusing on the next thing, take the time to live in the moment. Put your next move, job position and goal out of your mind for the time-being. Remember to thank your family and friends, congratulate yourself for all the hard work accomplishment and take lots of pictures!
And after, you can think about the next steps slowly. Do what is best for you and where you want to go in life. Think of goals you want to work on and how can you get there? And getting a job out of college is not the only path! You can travel (there are lots of ways to make money while traveling), go back to school or even relax for a bit! Don’t confine yourself in situations without realizing all the options. Most importantly, never compare your progress with those around you. You will have friends who will get instantaneous “success” and those who’s life just click. You are you and should only worry about YOU.
The uncertainly will never go away. But that’s what keeps life exciting right? It’s almost as if you are thrown into the “real world” after graduating – nothing is for certain and you will be left to figure things out. But things will turn out alright and you will end up where you are meant to be. The process won’t always be easy and the road won’t always be perfectly paved. Embrace the uncertainty to be the driving force behind where you ultimately want to end up. Remember this quote “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously”. No matter what you’ve done (or haven’t done) and what you’ve planned (or haven’t), your future is bright.
Having the perfect job, living in some big city or even having your life planned out will never fully define who you are. You are more than your resume, your diploma, or any definite object. Muffle the natural tendencies of feeling not enough that society has slowly masked us in! There are always unexpected twists and turns in life; some people land “dream jobs” to find out they hate it! Annddd, I bet that your friends are in the same boat as you — feeling meh is okay! Remember that no one expects you to have everything figured out. It’s okay to want one thing one day and another the next, you are not confined by your college major or decisions. Even though we are only posting the best versions of ourselves online (our best highlight reel), we are all learning along this journey. Try to learn more about who you are as a person during this process and learn to love the process.
It’s been an entire year (it flew by) and I am still figuring my sh*t out. I may not be where I thought I would have gotten to, but that hasn’t stopped me to continue. I’ve been at my lowest points this past year, but also learned the extent of my will. My one word of advice to you is to CONTINUE to learn. Pursue your love wherever it lies and learn to push yourself, but also cut yourself some slack. One last quote I want to leave you with is: “What is coming is better than what is gone.”
If you are graduating, CONGRATULATIONS! Embrace the uncertainty and the adventures ahead. And for my fellow graduates, I would love to hear your experiences after graduating college!
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A million and one thanks for reading – until my next lil’ thought then!