By Steve Thomas
Less than two weeks stand between me and what I’ve coveted for the last four years of my life: graduation. It hasn’t sunk in yet – mostly because I haven’t stopped breathing since the month of April began. Projects, theses, term papers, The Progress and the GRE have left me closer to broken than ever before.
I’m honestly looking forward to a summer of part-time work as the cog in some business’ machine. I’m looking forward to minimal responsibility because I am absolutely beat.
But despite this, I’ve remained upbeat.
It’s not simply because I have the prospect of some monotonous summer job to look forward to (although I do look forward to it); it’s because at this point, I know I’ll survive this final furlong somehow.
That’s College Departure Advice Tip No. 1: No matter how stressed you are now, you’ll survive it.
I learned this tip somewhere around sophomore year and strictly from experience. I have survived everything that has ever been horrible in my collegiate life-every paper (two-pagers and 30-pagers alike), group project, presentation and exam-mostly because I remind myself of that fact whenever a new challenge presents itself.
I will survive because I always have survived. And if you have faith in your own abilities, you’ll survive, too.
That’s Tip No. 2: Have faith in your own abilities. It’s a lot easier to get things done if you believe you’ll get it done.
You don’t have to know how or even feel good about it, but trust that you’ll pull through somehow. Don’t waste time doubting yourself, and as cheesy as it sounds, don’t set a limit on what you’re capable of.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right.”
I think Henry Ford was right.
Collegiate Departure Advice Tip No. 3: Oftentimes the dread you experience in worrying about something is worse than the thing you’re dreading. Sitting down and hammering out a term paper might take five hours, but worrying about it has taken up your whole week. The best strategy to staying sane is not to worry about things until you can do something about them, and then do something about them instead of worrying. Just get it over with.
Along the same lines, I’ve learned that all things in life follow a similar pattern: you put them on a calendar them, then they happen, and then they’re over. That’s Collegiate Departure Advice Tip No. 4: Everything just.happens. And, more importantly, after it happens, it’s over.
I used to stress about speeches or presentations, but I don’t anymore. It’s not because I’m confident in my abilities (although I am by virtue of rule No. 2)-I’ve just gained the ability to put it in perspective.
Five years from now, even if I crash and burn in spectacular fashion, it’ll make little to no difference. I’ll look back and laugh at it, if I even remember it at all.
Life is full of mundane events and superfluous stressors – recognize these things as they’re happening, and you’ll be a much more easygoing and happier person. Being happy leads me to my final tip.
Collegiate Departure Advice Tip No. 5: Do what makes you happy, but know that the other stuff is just as important. Probably more so.
This is the single most important piece of advice I have to offer, because it can save you from otherwise miserable circumstances. Consider it an attitude adjustment, in that you adjust to seeing value in everything.
It’s not the “at least I learned something” kind of value – it’s the idea that in order to be truly alive, you’ve got to embrace the entire spectrum of the human experience.
To be happy all the time is to miss out on a lot of life.
To be happy all the time is to miss the point.
So it’s OK that college sucks sometimes. Really, it is. Because you’ll get through it, and the good and the bad are necessary parts of life.
After four years, that’s the moral of the story. An old friend once told me that the most important thing she’d learned from her higher education is how many things in life are more important.
And I couldn’t agree more.