Things I wish I knew before I graduated

Recent Wilkes graduate offers insight into life after college

Sierra Marsh is a 2015 graduate of Wilkes University who holds a degree in English with minors in both sociology and women’s and gender studies. She currently resides in Wilkes-Barre where she is dedicating time to building her soy candle business.

The last few weeks of your final spring semester in college are wild and not entirely in the fun, ‘let’s be the last ones to leave the dance floor after pitchers’ kind of way. There’s essays, finals, presentations and capstones to complete while somehow managing to sleep, eat and not burst into tears after the library printers refuse to work.
I get it.
I know because I was right where you are at this time last year.
Stressing and worrying about checking every single last assignment off of your To-Do List leaves little to no time to think about what life after graduation may bring. I came up with a few things I wish I knew before I graduated college, and I hope they find you right where you are to bring you some encouragement.

1. People will expect you to have it all figured out.
Family members, friends, peers, coworkers, even potential employers. They all mostly mean well; I’m sure of it. But believe it or not, I have had job interviews where the interviewer has asked me, “What are you hoping to do with your English degree? Have you considered teaching?” What I would have liked to say is, “Uhm, well, for starters I’m just hoping for you to give me a job so I can pay my bills.”
But it’s not that simple.
The awkward Thanksgiving dinner questions will continue except the pressure will be at an all-time high. The ever so famous, “So…how is school going?” will be replaced by “So…do you have a job yet?” but remember, as I said, everyone means well! They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t care, but we don’t all have a five-year plan seemingly written in stone right after college. It’s all a process, and you have to take things one day at a time regardless of any daunting underlying pressure that may come from other people in your life.

2. It’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out.
This is important to remember. Be gentle with yourself because things will begin to come together. You deserve to live a life you’re proud of, and you’ve worked so hard to be where you are now. Remember your dreams and the hopes you have always had for yourself whatever they may be. Refuse to lose sight of them, and you’re already halfway there.

3. You’ll fall out of touch with friends.
Yes, the same ones you met on move in day freshman year, the ones you skipped class to walk to Dunkin with for 99 cent iced coffee, the ones you giggled uncontrollably with on borderline delusional late nights in the library, and maybe even the ones you will get ready with the day of graduation. This is something I wish I saw coming, but I want you to know it isn’t a bad thing.
What I mean by this is in the months that follow your graduation you will see your friends do ground breaking, beautiful things. They will be chasing their own goals and discovering life in new ways just like you. They may be starting new jobs, tackling their first semester of graduate school or moving away to an entirely different state.
Plans to see each other will fall through and even text messages may eventually come to an altogether stop. Life happens, and that’s OK. It’s OK because when you do see each other again, when those plans do work out, it will feel as if no time has passed at all.
Reconnecting will be effortless. You’ll hear about all the things your friends have going on in their lives – big ideas, first dates, quirky co-workers, life changing opportunities – and if you’re open to it, you’ll find that they may even inspire you.

4. There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
Have you ever talked to someone who seemed as if they had their entire life planned out right down to how many children they want? No doubt clouds their mind at all. They want what they want, and since it’s planned out, they believe it will happen. Sometimes I find myself envying people like that, but the truth is that reality has a way of breaking up even the best laid out plans.
Life just happens. I say that a lot, but it’s true. The fact is that you don’t know what may happen to you or around you that could affect those plans, and that’s why it’s important to understand early on that the unanticipated twists and turns could turn out to be the best part of your journey. Embrace the unexpected, and don’t be discouraged when things fail to go as perfectly as planned.
There are far greater things ahead for you, more amazing than you could even imagine. Take a chance on the unknown, stay firm in who you are, and I promise you will be surprised by the doors that open up before you.