My four years of college have definitely not gone the way that I expected. I faced a lot of disappointment along the way. I struggled with accepting the outcome of certain situations because I could not find the true meaning no matter how hard I searched. Now that I’m six months away from graduating, I realize that every experience serves it’s purpose in a unique way. If you know me, you know that I traveled along an unconventional path that encompassed a ton of unanticipated twists and turns. I had no idea that there would be a new challenge around almost every corner, I was overwhelmed by instability but I learned to embrace it.
Most of the time, I felt ill-equipped to handle a lot of the situations that life threw my way. In three years I changed my school, major, minor, and my career path. If this sounds like a lot of upheaval to you, it was. I had difficulty adjusting to change and I became frustrated with the fact that I could never get too comfortable because, in the back of my mind, I knew that something was bound to go awry. I thought that I had found my dream school, but after a few months there I learned that I did not know myself nor my dreams well at all. For a long time I was confident in my decision to study government and law, but I grappled with an emptiness that eventually drove me to declare a major in communication studies with a minor in history. Overtime, my aspirations of becoming a brilliant attorney disintegrated, but the idea to pursue a career in financial services rose from the ashes almost fortuitously. Looking back, it all seems pretty serendipitous to me now.
So when I take time to reflect on my college experiences, I smile knowing that I created so many wonderfully rewarding moments for myself that I will take pride in for years to come. I remember how I enjoyed the casual lifestyle of the Florida coast and immersed myself in the bustling atmosphere of Washington D.C. I think of how I made it a point to tap into the knowledge and wisdom of people from different generations. I fell in love with learning. I proved to myself that I am beyond capable of “adulting”. I am confident in my ability to listen to my own needs and to advocate for myself. I feel prepared for the next journey that lies ahead.
“Yeah, the bad nights last forever.
And the good nights don’t ever seem to last.”‘The Best of Everything’ – Tom Petty
I have lived with more than eighteen different roommates and have moved eight separate times over the past four years. That in itself will show a person where their true values lie and what their core pillars are. I pledged a social sorority (shoutout to my Delta Zeta sisters), joined a professional law fraternity, competed on a Mock Trial team, became involved in three business organizations, lived abroad in the United Kingdom for six weeks to study digital media and film making, interned at two law firms in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metro area, received several awards for academic excellence, and became more self-assured with every passing day. After all of this, I know wholeheartedly that all of these experiences were imperative because they were accompanied by unfamiliarity which in turn led to self-discovery.
May we all graduate knowing how to navigate through hard times, how to start over if necessary, how to create closure for ourselves, and how to prioritize our health and happiness. Cheers to the next decade, let’s turn these lessons into tools that we can use to build the futures that we desire. It amazes me how the days move slowly but the years go by faster and faster.
Let’s try our hardest to receive the bad with humility and to soak up the good with gratitude.
My Advice on How to Prepare for College Graduation…Let’s Go Class of 2020!
Decide Who & What Deserves Your Time & Energy
The older I get the more I realize that time is an nonrenewable resource, you never get it back. Take a hard look at your life over the next several months, I can guarantee that you will have to make some tough decisions about who & what you are going to bring into the next phase of your life. We are all about to enter a major period of transition and it’s going to be an event that demands our attention. Fill your time with the people that help you to recharge and keep busy with activities that spark joy and excitement. Don’t forget to simultaneously distance yourself from the people who bring you down and drain your energy. If you find yourself surrounded by people who try to make their drama your drama, remember not to pick up things that do not belong to you. If you feel guilty about letting go and moving on, remember that what you’re doing is not an act of selfishness but rather an act of self-preservation.
Set Financial Goals & Keep a Money Diary
Money Diaries by Lindsey Stanberry was one of the first books that I read when I started exploring the personal finance section of libraries and book stores. The concepts are simple and very eye-opening which is why I have recommended this book to my peers time and again. Let’s take a moment to think about how we track almost everything in our daily lives with metrics from calories to exercise to sleep to water intake…so why are we neglecting our spending habits and financial goals?
This past summer, I made a flow chart that organized my anticipated expenses for a typical year with the information that I learned from Money Diaries. This exercise was especially helpful because my financial situation became crystal clear. Keeping a money diary puts me at ease and helps me to commit to an action plan, I feel completely in control of my finances and my future which is an incredibly empowering feeling.
Some important calculations to make are loan payments, rent payments, car payments, grocery bills, memberships (i.e. Gyms, Netflix, Spotify, ect.), beauty expenses (hair cuts, nail appointments, waxing, massages, ect.) and any prospective travel plans that you would like to schedule for vacations in a given year. Keep in mind this is all individualistic, so everyone’s flow-chart and money diary will start out the same but end up looking very different. For example, I’ve been thinking about adopting a pet after I graduate, so I would have to go back and factor those expenses into my chart to see how it would affect my finances. Some people may decide to live at home for a few years to pay off loans or save for the future, its choices like these that will ultimately determine your financial freedom. So after you calculate your financial flow-chart and start your money diary, the next step is to look into jobs with salaries that will allow you to maintain your current lifestyle in addition to expanding your horizons.
Jobs! Jobs?! Jobs? Jobs…
LinkedIn, Indeed, Ziprecruiter, SnagAJob, Jobs2Careers & so many more have mobile apps that you can download onto your mobile device to help you network with professionals and find upcoming application opportunities. For every hour you spend on social media…spend an hour searching for jobs. It can be overwhelming in the beginning but pretty soon you will have a good grasp on the companies and positions that suit your interests and skill set. Not sure where to start? Most universities have career centers that can help students transition from school to work life. This past fall I scheduled three separate appointments with staff members at the career center to revise my resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. I applied to more than fifty full-time job opportunities and interviewed with nearly fifteen different companies. Luckily all of this preparation paid off because I am beyond confidant that I found the right fit for me.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments in Any & Every Capacity Possible
Let’s face it, you only graduate from college once. It’s a major accomplishment that deserves to be relished for far longer than the length of a graduation ceremony. We have all earned the right to do a little dance, make a little love, & get down tonight. So make plans to celebrate in a way that is most important to you, apply the extra effort to make this time especially memorable. A good friend once opened up to me about how badly she regrets only taking the weekend to celebrate her accomplishments; she graduated on a Friday and started working on Monday. Some people can jump from one moment to the other with no problem while others prefer to take periods of transition more slowly. This is an opportune time to uncover the type of person that you are…I’ve made a commitment to give myself the summer since it is going to be my last. Sometimes it’s hard to advocate for your needs in the moment but I can assure you that you will thank yourself years later.
Trust the Process & Take Time to Realign
I recently watched a stand-up comedy performance on Netflix by Tiffany Haddish titled ‘Black Mitzvah’. Let me tell you, this woman came to teach AND SHE TAUGHT! The two most important things that young people can do is (1) own our failures (2) learn how to control our thoughts. In this comedy special Haddish warns that we all have parasites inside of us, but if we are in control of our minds then we can run our lives the way we want. Anything is possible. The catch is that “if you’re not in control of your mind, then the parasites run you”. Let that sink in. Don’t get down on yourself if things do not go the way you want at first after graduating. Remember that what is meant for you will make its way to you in due time. Just do your best to trust the process and take some time to reevaluate the situation, make sure you are in alignment.