Feeling Lost After Graduation

Feeling Lost After Graduation

We spend nearly two decades in school to prep for the “real world”. When we finally graduate, we’re eager to jump in and tackle whatever life throws at us. However once the initial excitement wears off, some new grads find themselves lost and disoriented.

Adjusting to the real world

If you’ve been hit with the post-graduation blues, know that you are not alone. The emotional distress that comes with graduation is quite common and there are many potential causes for this.

Undefined long-term goals

As a student, many of our decisions are driven by the overarching goal of graduating. Every class attended and test aced brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal. When we graduate, the goal is finally accomplished. So what’s the next step?

Some are eager to embrace their newfound freedom and focus on their personal goals. However, not everyone has their life figured out yet.

For those individuals, graduation was something to work towards in the meantime. Now without a goal to aim for, day-to-day routines can feel very meaningless.

If you feel unsure of how to progress after graduation, take some time to think. Ask yourself: What makes you happy? Where do you want to be in 5 years? What about in 10 years? What does your dream life look like? Where would you want your career and personal life to be?

If school defined your goals up until now, buckle up for some serious self-reflection. Because from now on, it’s time for you to decide.

Reliance on numerical success metrics

From grade school to university, performance has always been assessed through test scores and marks. Grading systems gives students a way to measure their success quantitatively. Numerical and letter grades offer a cut and dry way to gauge performance.

It’s easy to get sucked into the numbers game when we’re in school for nearly two decades. When we finally graduate, many are relieved to shake off the stress of maintaining their GPA. That is until they start to crave the thrill of chasing numbers once again. After all, old habits die hard.

In response to this, some new grads set their sights on a new quantitative metric. This could be anything from salary to social media followers.

Jumping from one metric to another isn’t the best coping mechanism. Schools have conditioned us to fixate on numbers, but it’s not always possible to describe success with a single number. Instead, choose your success metrics with purpose. Success should be based on the progress made toward your personal goals. This can involve a mixture of both qualitative and quantitative metrics.

Start of the endless grind

Closing the school chapter of your life can feel bittersweet. On one hand, graduating is an extraordinary feat that deserves praise. On the other hand, many of the accomplishments we once worked so hard to achieve suddenly feel meaningless. The truth is, most of your school achievements don’t carry much weight in the “real world”.

It’s disheartening to find yourself at the bottom of yet another ladder when you’ve just climbed to the top of the school ladder. After graduation, many people beeline for the corporate ladder and restart their journey there. If the thought of forever climbing ladders scares you, don’t worry, because you are not alone. It can feel like a perpetual grind with no end in sight.

Seeing life from this perspective can be exhausting and will likely lead to faster burnout. It’s important to take a step back and think about what matters to you. If the ladder you’re climbing doesn’t bring you joy, put more energy on other areas that do bring you joy. At the same time, it doesn’t mean you have to stop climbing that ladder entirely. It’s possible to gradually progress in multiple aspects of life.

Friends drifting away

Every major life transition comes with its challenges. One of the challenges that come with graduating is having less access to your friends.

Many students don’t realise how convenient it is to see friends when everyone lives nearby and follows similar schedules. When we graduate, the convenience is no longer there and that’s when the true test of friendship begins.

It’s very common for classmates to grow close to one another after sharing a couple of classes together. However, outside of school, the two of you don’t have much in common so you naturally drift apart when school is over. Being separated from your friends can feel upsetting, but it’s a part of life.

While temporary friendships come and go, every now and then you may come across a real gem. A really good friend is someone you click with so well that no inconvenience would get in the way of your friendship. No matter how long it’s been since the last time you’ve spoken with them, it never feels awkward catching up with them. Friendships like these can last a lifetime, but only if both sides put in the effort.

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