I remember the day I left for university. My bags were half packed, my room a mess and I was caught in this whirlwind emotional mix of anxiety and excitement. People gave me unsolicited advice all summer about life at university: what to expect, what to do, what not to do. The list goes on. But I think the line I heard most was something like, “You’re about to begin the best four years of your life.”
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. It’s not uncommon to hear that university is supposed to hold some of the best and most important years of our lives. Seemingly endless days of living with your friends, down the street from more friends, wasting away late nights at the Killam or burying yourselves in Netflix and Needs Convenience. The years pass by in an ignorant bliss, creating lasting bonds and “you had to be there” moments you didn’t even know were happening.
And then, fourth (or fifth, maybe even sixth) year rolls around and you realize these days are limited. Post-grad thoughts take over your mind and probably your life: money, jobs, relationships and, worst of all, student loans. Forget about finishing your thesis on time, the rest of your life is near — and it’s terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be.
It’s not the end of your life
Even though it might not feel like it now, graduation is not the end of the world. It’s actually the beginning. You’ve spent four or so years working towards a single goal, and it’s finally within reach. The rest of your life is ahead and it’s exciting. You can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. I know that sounds corny, but I’m going to repeat it: you can officially do whatever you want. Move to a new city, start a new job, or even go home and relish in your parents’ cooking and free laundry. Whatever. You. Want. Now is the time to do it.
Appreciate the process
Take a step back and think about your first day of university. A long time ago, eh? Remember how cool you thought you were? Ha. Silly 18-year-old. Now look at where you are, look at everything you’ve accomplished. It won’t be long before you can officially say you’re a college graduate, and that’s pretty neat. Don’t rush towards graduation, but don’t hide from it either. Instead, just appreciate the process.
Your last Loaded Ladle lunch, your last 8:30 a.m. class, your last time submitting an assignment five minutes before it’s due, these are simply rites of passage. It might be cliché, but it also might be the only time you get to do it. So be that typical grad, and revel in it. Throw your hat in the air and cry your eyes out. I won’t judge.
No more homework
I think this one speaks for itself.
Discover what you love
How many times in the past four years have you doubted your degree, or maybe even your entire existence? I sometimes think it’s impossible to ever really know if you’re doing the right thing, or are on the right track. Maybe I’m wrong. But either way now is the time to find out. There is nothing wrong with having a set plan after graduation, but there is also nothing wrong with not having one. The unknown is exciting.
And finally, just remember that life gets better (if you want it to)
Yes, gone are the days of eating Mac n’ Cheese for every meal and casually drinking on a Tuesday night. Trust me, I’m going to miss guilt-free bingeing Suits until 3 a.m., and I’ll probably cry the day I have to start paying back my student loans. Being a student definitely has its perks, but I refuse to believe that life doesn’t just get better from here. First of all, being a real-life adult has even less rules. Who says you can’t keep eating that cheesy KD goodness every day? And let’s be honest, we’re still going to make many, many mistakes. Life may never be the same as it is in this moment, but why would you want it to be? It’s time to design your own disaster.