When I started my freshman year of college I thought to myself, “what now?” Who was I going to be, what kind of friends was I going to make, and where was this going to take me? As my last year of college comes to an end I ask myself the same question, “what now?” Who am I going to be, what kind of friends am I going to make, and where am I going to go from here?
The difference between starting college and finishing college is that as I took my first on to the Storrs campus I was walking into a bubble. Shut off from the issues of the rest of the world, I was only concerned with what was happening inside my bubble. As I prepare for graduation, I am leaving my bubble and emerging into a world full of variables. Unsure of what will happen, where I will end up, and who will be by my side. When I started college, I was a fish, swimming around in a tank that seemed like it was a whole new world. Now, I am waiting to be released into the ocean, to start a new chapter and begin exploring a new territory.
Graduation, a word seldom used by rising seniors, does not make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck anymore. If you asked me 6 months ago, if I was looking forward to graduating I would ignored the question entirely, but now I can answer the question head on with a big, bold yes.
There are several things I am looking forward to doing after I walk across that stage and receive my diploma. For starters, I want to land my first job doing something I love, or at learn to love what I am doing. Every graduate wants to start their career off with a bang, but for me, I just want to start somewhere. I crave fulfillment and purpose in my life so much so that I am looking forward to working the 9-5 daily grind. I am yearning for gossip at the water cooler and weekly conference calls, deadlines and constructive criticism, but above all, I yearn for a sense of independence. Being on my own, doing things on my own, paying bills on my own. I am looking forward to a different sort of independence than what I got while I was away at school. I guess you could call it adulthood.
I am looking forward to seeing which friendships withstand the test of time and distance. Which of my closest friends make time to check in on me and stay connected. If you take the college out of your friends, but can you take your friends out of college? Having friends in college is easy. You are all in the same place, with similar schedules, and do the same things for fun. Once that’s over it’s hard to say who will be in the same place as you and who will have the same schedule. I am looking forward to making time for my old friends, my college friends, and making new ones at the same time. I am hopeful, of course, that my future will be a combination of the three.
While everything I am looking forward to seems sugar coated at the time, I understand that life has a way of dusting the sugar off and revealing reality, but I, unlike many of my millennial counterparts, understand that I may not be the best, or the most successful right out of college. I know I’ll have to grow some more and struggle a little (or a lot). If I can keep looking forward, like I am doing right now, then I think I’ll make it. I’ll land my first job, get my own apartment, call a new city home, and I’ll have the answers to all my questions. I will be an influential young professional, I will have my friends (both old and new), and I will only continue to go up from here. Being an undergraduate student has been without a doubt, the best four years of my life, but I am ready to trade in my backpack for a briefcase.