I have found myself facing anxious thoughts as I become closer to graduating this summer. I feel like I am living in a time of uncertainty as I approach the end of my academic journey (or at least this chapter). I know many of my friends are currently feeling the same way, whether it be choosing where to live if they want to continue pursuing academia further, or what they want to do for a future career.
So let me share the dialogue that I have had in my head over the past few months as I attempt to come to terms with this time of uncertainty:
The first thing I asked myself when graveling with these anxious feelings was why I was scared of uncertainty. This is a complex answer. I have grown up always having a plan in life. I had a 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year plan for my entire life but those plans are either already achieved or no longer relevant. For the first time in my life, I don’t have everything all planned out.
Aside from the lack of structure in my life, my identity is also closely tied to academics. I’ve always valued my grades and became known for that among family and friends. Preparing to leave academia has made me realize the toxic relationship I have had with grades for academic validation. So just a friendly reminder to myself and anyone who might need to hear it: grades do not define you and grades do not define a person!
I now want to be the source of my own validation because I am the only one who will always be there for me. I don’t want to place value on finite things when my own self-love is what is the most important thing to me. I don’t need academic validation to feel complete, or fulfilled. I am whole and complete just as I am.
Another thing I couldn’t help but think about was why it was confusing and even scary to have so many opportunities and choices. The more I thought about it the more apparent it was that this time of my life is a privilege. It’s a privilege to get to look at the different options and opportunities presented to me and explore them. I get to truly decide my next journey and what path I want to embark on.
I can’t help but feel endlessly grateful when I think about the reality that few individuals are given this chance. I was given the opportunity to go to university, get an education, and now have the ability to choose what I want to do in the next chapter of my life without restrictions from others. Even with the fright and worry that comes with uncertainty, I attempt to remain grateful for this gift that I have been given.
So what have I been doing lately to embrace and explore this strange time in my life?
Mostly I have been just trying to live in the present. Sometimes I can’t help it and I take time to explore the different things I might want to do after graduation. I find it exciting to dig into the plethora of options that lie in front of me. I search for different career options, programs I’m interested in, and volunteer opportunities. After opening 20 or more tabs on my computer browser and looking up flights to 5 different places, my head is usually spinning. That’s when I know it’s time to step away from my computer and breathe.
For now, I am working to allow myself to appreciate my accomplishments. The amount of sweat, tears, and effort I put into my degree was draining, and taking time to sleep, relax and just exist is sometimes necessary. Learning to embrace this has been hard for me. I am used to constantly being busy going from one assignment, test, or extracurricular to the next. Taking the small moments in and breathing through the confusion, remembering the hard work, and embracing this beautiful time in my life has been a process.
If you find yourself relating to any of these feelings just know you aren’t alone. As students, we often undervalue our accomplishments, but you deserve to be proud of yourself no matter where you are in your academic journey!
All the best,
The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.