Dear Graduating Student,
Ever feel as though you’re choking? I don’t mean literally, though I once choked myself just to know how it felt (I was a weird kid), but rather the inability to perform an act; more along the lines of a paralysis. This paralysis occurs mostly when there is a major event requiring a decision. I would attribute it to the fear of possible consequences that depend upon a judgment. For example, the dream of moving away from home is about to come true, yet the actual process of choosing where to move causes so much distress that the dream is never actualized. “Seattle or Chicago. Must consider crime rates, transportation, rent, employment, etc. I think I’m good for now at home. I don’t have to move.” I hope I’m making sense. You may be wondering why this should even matter. Of course people suffer from anxiety/paralysis/choking. “Why should I care? What is the point?”
Let me draw your attention to someone currently paralyzed, someone with a seemingly grim future ahead if this paralysis cannot be shaken, someone whom may or may not be you. 3 weeks until graduation. 3 weeks until real life begins. No longer is the Great Struggle equivalent to reading some 60-pages for a 55-minute class. Out with the paper deadline looming ahead. Be gone, Professor Hardass! Now the Great Struggle is waking up to an actual job that feeds you and shelters you. On the other end is the possibility of waking up in your old bedroom as your mother cooks breakfast while simultaneously voicing her disappointment. What a life. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree, and this is all you have to show for it. But it needn’t be so grim!
It all begins with shedding the insecurity that is permeating the air. All around you there are different types of people who are on different levels of readiness, or their perception of their own readiness. Focus on the immediate future and not on the abstract. Make lists and enjoy the thrill of grabbing a pen and crossing out each item on that list. It’s quite orgasmic, especially if it’s a long list. You’ll be amazed at how much these little things alleviate the physical manifestations of fear. Toss out the pessimistic “I don’t know how I’m going to find a job with this (Blank) Degree. The employment situation scares me.” Think about getting a job for the summer that you’d enjoy. You’ll have plenty of time to actually make up your mind. There actually are jobs out there, and the internet is not the only manner of finding these jobs. They aren’t unicorns; they actually exist! Of course most positions available aren’t glamorous or the Dream Job leading to the Dream Career, but that’s okay. The point is that you are moving somewhere.
Think of this in terms of the adventure it actually is. Sure it can be like a roller coaster, but don’t you remember the moments throughout the ride? The coaster dauntingly climbs towards the sky then careens down towards earth. Don’t you recall the chills running through your body, the wind whipping your hair back and forth (Willow Smith reference, heyy), and the epic screams that are ripped from your throat? That is what life is about! It isn’t always so exciting, but consider the seemingly minor instances wherein you make choices that provoke bursts of happiness. “Finish resume, post online, go in for interviews, apply for grad school, etc.” Don’t be scared of moments of uncertainty because they actually do happen and will continue to happen. Learn to cope in whatever manner that best alleviates you (within the lines of the law and without harming others, of course). My personal favorite is lip-syncing Britney Spears’s ‘Oops, I Did It Again’ or Justin Timberlake’s ‘SexyBack.’ I get to shake my groove thang and smack away my anxiety. Isn’t that all you really want?