Dear college senior,
There are some things you need to know. And it’s okay if you’re currently feeling All The Feelings and need to tuck these away for another day, a quiet moment or a late night or a short break between classes. But come back, sit down, and read slow. Your story is about to change – big time. It’s going to be scary and it’s going to be good. These are the words I wish someone would have told me, the things to look out for, the moments to pay attention to, and the things that matter most.
1. People will ask “what are you going to do when you graduate?” You don’t have to have an answer.
Okay but seriously. You really don’t. It’s more than okay to say “I don’t know” and leave it there. If you feel comfortable, follow up that sentence by asking them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything, or to pray as you make decisions. But not for one second should you feel guilt for an “I don’t know” answer. Since when is a 21-year-old supposed to have their entire life figured out?!
2. Take too many pictures.
Because when you pack up your life into boxes and then unpack those same belongings in a new city, you’ll have a little piece of home with you no matter where you land.
3. The people you surround yourself with today will drastically impact your tomorrow.
Walk with the wise. By now you’ve probably already found your people, but take every moment you can to make memories, laugh loud, have deep and honest talks, jam out to Taylor Swift CDs, make not-quite-done gooey cookies, and schedule study groups that will really just be hangout time. Do life together. Walk in the daily ordinary together. It’s about to change – more than you think you can already imagine – and you don’t need me to tell you so. Choose your people wisely, and then choose to spend your ordinary with them. It doesn’t have to be big. It’s the little stuff you’ll remember anyway.
4. Befriend a freshman.
Leave a legacy. Show them the ropes. Sit and listen to their worries and comfort them with the truth. Remember how you looked up to the upperclassmen when you were in their position? Doesn’t that feel like a million years ago, and also like it was just yesterday? Be a safe place for them. Share what you’ve learned and be to them what you were looking for in a friend when you first moved in.
5. It’s okay to feel scared.
You don’t have to put on a brave face. Acknowledge your fears, talk them out, and do everything you can to leave them in His hands. You don’t have to have all the answers. And ps, nobody actually has their life all figured out, no matter what it looks like.
6. Love the ones you’re with.
I don’t have to tell you that your friendships are about to change. You already know it. That may be the scariest thing of all. But instead of worrying about a future that is only hazy right now, live fully in the moment of today. Choose relationships over results. Pick people over projects.
7. Remember the past, prepare for the future, and live in the now.
“Last one best one!” is about to be a very real thing in your life. Everything feels like a last and the closing of a chapter. Acknowledge it, don’t dismiss it. And then choose to make the most of the present moment. Because there will never be another one like it. So slow down and cherish the last ones. And maybe don’t start a final countdown until, oh, a month before graduation.
8. Never stop learning.
Enjoy the classroom. Oh, the homework is annoying and monotonous and frustrating. No one will argue you that. But live a lifestyle that always seeks to learn. Write a letter to a teacher who has changed you, one who has taught you more about the subject of life than any textbook could tell. Take good notes and for the love, please actually go to class. Senioritis is not a joke and I had it bad, let me tell you. But I miss the classroom so much more than I ever imagined.
9. It’s okay to change your mind.
Do all the adult things like filling out applications and going to interviews. Be prepared, and then be prepared to be flexible. Open up a couple doors, take a couple steps one direction and then turn around if you change your mind.
10. Sometimes flying looks like failing at first.
You may have multiple job offers to choose from or you may graduate and move back home. Do not categorize one as succeeding and one as failure. Senior year should be called the year of All The Emotions and remember, you don’t have to have life figured out. It’s okay to live in the in-between. That can be flying, too.
11. Make a bucket list.
Chances are, you already have one. So now you need to grab a couple friends and actually cross everything off. Climb up to the rooftop, swim in the fountains, go on a spontaneous road trip.
12. It’s going to be okay.
Yep, just that. No matter what the day after graduation brings, it is really, truly, going to be okay.
Related: What Graduation Is Actually Like