OPINION: Graduation, a lesson in patience

Leticia Cezário Santos, Marketing Director

We’re here. Our last issue of the semester. Our last issue of this volume. But for many of us, myself included, the last issue of our time at The Oakland Post.

In less than a month, we’ll walk across the stage, and everything will change. We will graduate. What now? 

For me, big life moments always make me reflect back on all the experiences I lived through up to now.  

Remarkable moments are the trigger for a detailed internal summary and reflection. From my graduation-themed reflection, I want to share what stuck out the most to me: patience. 

“Graduation from college marks an important milestone in life. It is a time to celebrate achieving a seminal life goal while leaving behind a formative stage in life,” Joshua Wilt, Wiebke Bleidorn and William Revelle said in their article “Finding a Life Worth Living: Meaning in Life and Graduation from College.

While we go through our college years knowing graduating is the final step, we don’t spend time thinking about what graduating will truly mean.

“Graduation marks the ending of a structured period in one’s life,” a Montana State University article said. “During the past four+ years, students experienced some certainty in their lives.”

College years sum up life in schedules, syllabi, community and a life dynamic we get quickly used to. Struggles we know — happy moments we certainly can expect.

“College can be similar to a utopian society: Its inhabitants are not really aware of the struggles that may await when that utopian world vanishes the day after graduation.”

After graduation, a lot changes. While for now, I can only guess what this might look like, I know for sure it will be a moment with a lot to unpack. 

“With the close of university life also come new beginnings and challenges associated with taking on a more adult role in society,” Wilt, Bleidorn and Revelle said. “Graduation, when conceived of as a developmental task, also can be seen as a transition to adulthood.”

Wilt, Bleidorn and Revelle emphasize how society “explicitly and implicitly urges young adults to get a life,” and here comes my first observation. 

Be patient with life. While having plans and dedicating time and effort to make them happen is needed, don’t lose yourself panicking because ‘everyone’ is doing something you’re not. 

Be patient with the time of your life. Time is not the same for everyone. 

“[Graduating students] have a sense that everyone has it together but them, which causes them to further isolate themselves.” Sheryl Ziegler, a Colorado psychologist and licensed professional counselor, told The Washington Post.

While it might sound cliche if you’re doing your job of planning, dreaming and working, you are on the step you are meant to be — just wait. 

Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez shared her post-graduation experience with The Washington Post. For her, it was the period she learned about “post-graduation depression” and how life needs new passions. 

 “Although it’s not an official diagnosis, ‘post-graduation depression’ is commonly used to describe the extreme sadness and impaired functioning that recent grads report after they leave behind the world they created in college,” Meadows-Fernandez said.  

This takes us to my second observation: Be patient with your emotions. 

“While most people think of graduation as an exciting and wonderful marking event, many fail to recognize the other emotions evoked by this transition time,” the Montana State University article said. “Graduation not only can bring up feelings of excitement, pride and anticipation, but also those of loss, discouragement and fear.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 75% of mental health conditions begin by age 24, which means the years following graduation can be a particularly challenging time emotionally.

“Post-grad depression is under­reported because graduation is like motherhood: culturally seen as a seemingly joyful time, which makes it even more shameful for someone to admit that it’s not,” Juli Fraga, a San Francisco-based psychologist, said to The Washington Post

Graduation is indeed a happy moment. You got here. But don’t judge yourself if happiness comes followed by some other emotions. 

“I am always aware that every beginning, exciting as it may be, is also an ending, and endings make me sad,” F. Diane Barth said for Psychology Today.

Be patient with your emotions. 

“Allow yourself to have the full range of emotions while managing to stay on track with an appreciation of the moment,” Barth said. 

Expect to feel a lot. Try to sort your emotions out. Pay attention to what you are feeling. Neuroscientists tell us that putting our feelings into words helps us manage them.

Once graduation goes by, there will be an entire life of new steps and accomplishments to happen. So, my third observation is to be patient to find, try and test new interests.

“The best part of college was having a mission — being involved in mentorship and leadership organizations, and feeling that I was making a difference,” Meadows-Fernandez said.

Be patient until you find new opportunities to act on your passions again. Be open to finding new ways to do what you learned to love. 

Lastly, be patient to live the most of it all. 

Graduating can be an intense life milestone, but how exciting it is! Live it all, all the emotions, opportunities and moments. Afraid or excited, uncertain or not, be open to living it all! 

In summation, 

  • Be patient with life, and your own time. 
  • Be patient with your emotions.
  • Be patient to find, try and test new interests.
  • Be patient to live the most of it all. 

Thank you for reading one of my most important reflections ever. 

Thank you, The Oakland Post.