All photos taken by Angelica Marie Photography
So, I’ve been feeling a tad bit nostalgic seeing graduation pictures on social media. Has it almost been a full year since I graduated?! Once you start putting things into perspective, you can’t help but reflect on your life and evaluate what you’ve been doing since then. I know that some of you are ecstatic getting ready to walk the stage whereas others are somewhat trying to cope with the uncertainty that comes forth. Trust me, I know the feeling.
I remember dreading the million-dollar question: “So what’s next after graduation?”
We’re always too caught up in the future, never allowing ourselves to fully embrace the “now.” I remember being so excited to walk the stage and when the moment came, I was so caught up that I had forgotten to enjoy that walk across the stage. THE walk I’ve always anticipated. I remember being super sleepy (hello 8am graduations!) smiling for the photo and leaving the stage thinking “omg, it’s over.” In retrogress, I probably should’ve savored that moment more.
But that’s beside the point.
The last couple of semesters in school, I remember losing sleep, skipping meals – only to have BARELY passed the pre-pharmacy courses I was taking. Right, pharm school? Who would’ve thought? I mean, I wanted that path to be mine, but the truth is… you could only do so much until you readily admit to yourself that no, this isn’t for me.
I dealt for years thinking that if I backed out now, I would look like a failure. Why would I give up on pharmacy school? And I remember needing just one more class, and I was planning to take it over the summer. Even then, I felt uncertain. Little did I realize that missing that one class was a blessing in disguise or I would’ve applied to pharmacy school straight out of undergrad and probably feel really miserable with myself. It paved a new route for me; a route I’m thankful for as I got the chance to fully immerse myself with the “real world” and then went on from there.
Many people have been reaching out to me with post-graduation anxiety/concerns. It’s normal. Everyone else is feeling the same way. My advice to you is to enjoy your last few months in undergrad, but don’t stress over what’s to come. Don’t go around comparing yourself to others either. I mean, ask around to see what everyone’s up to, but don’t dwell when your path doesn’t mirror someone else’s. Everything doesn’t always have to be so… parallel. I mean, hello – that’s boring.
We surround ourselves with everyone else’s highlight reels that we forget WE are the star of our own movie. Cliché? Maybe, but it’s the truth. Everyone else may play a role in your life, but at the end of the day, who is making the decision for us?
Because I was in an environment ASSUMING everybody pretty much had their lives set and were off venturing off to their next chapters in life, I avoided everybody.
From those going to grad school right after to those pursuing professional schools like med or dental school, I dodged all of the bullets. Well because I did not have an answer. For them or for MYSELF. I didn’t even take the GRE. Heck, I was confused, and I felt… stuck. Stuck between pharmacy and graduate school. Stuck between saving $$ after college, gaining work experience with my degree, or just going straight for the plunge. I was just so uncertain and didn’t feel comfortable making rash decisions under pressure. My path was ridiculously obscure.
College is such a pivotal time in our lives that we tend to pretty much throw things in our path, already pre-filled with other hindrances. Why do we complicate things? Why do we let time become our enemy as we struggle to race to the finish line… when in reality, time is all we have? Time IS our best friend.
It’s important to honestly unplug yourself from the outside world. I cannot emphasize this enough. Applaud others, but don’t undermine yourself as you congratulate others on their successes. Everyone has their own dreams, their own timelines, their own lives. You don’t always have to do what others are doing. Conformity is such a misconception. Who wants to be identical to someone else anyway?
If you want to take a break, heck you deserve it. If you want to travel, again heck you deserve it. If you want to go to grad school right after because breaks simply aren’t for you, then heck go for it.
Looking back, I made the right choice. I started my full-time job at the VA Hospital. I read. I listened to podcasts. I journaled. I focused on my well-being. I became more on top with my screenings. I explored graduate programs in the meantime, I launched my blog as my passion project, etc. Those little things I invested my time in continue to shape my personal and professional development to this day. I don’t have ANY regrets taking this year off, and I want everyone to explore EVERY SINGLE ONE of their options before committing to one. Listen to people’s advice, but do what’s best for you and your path. After all, YOU’RE going to be the only one carving that path out for you to walk on.
xx Congratulations to all Class of 2017 Grads!