The Final Countdown – Time to Grow Up

Kristin Bergmann, Opinions Editor

The countdown is on: I’m 12 weeks into my last semester, and I only have 4 more weeks to go. I’ve been working towards a communication degree for four years and until recently, I could not wait to finally graduate. Now that the day is coming closer, my mindset has shifted. Suddenly there is pressure and uncertainty. I know that I should curate my profile on LinkedIn and log into my Indeed account once a while. Also, I should probably stop ignoring the recruiters who have been sliding into my DMs on Handshake since Sophomore year. The clock is ticking, and it’s downright terrifying.

I didn’t appreciate the last years enough, living that sheltered college life. Assignments and deadlines would regularly give me anxiety attacks, but it was all worth it once classes ended and I got to spend Spring Break at the beach or fly to Europe for the summer. Stuck somewhere between a teenager and an adult, you don’t think much about the future because it seems so far away. But time flies and suddenly you’re sitting in your room at 10 pm, anxious because your entire life is about to change and you have no clue what it’s going to look like. Then the anxiety turns into a freak-out that ends in a full-blown panic attack… or is that just me?

What baffles me most is that I’m going to need a job. A big girl job. The real deal. No student job that works around my class schedule and lets me call out whenever I’m too busy or decide to take a roadtrip to the Grand Canyon on a random Thursday. I’m going to have to work in the professional world. HOW? I tear up when I get into arguments and am terrified of conflict. My boss wants me to work overtime three days in a row? Sure! A co-worker steals my ideas for their presentation? Fantastic point Amy, I completely agree! Seriously, how does this stuff work? Do I get some time to adjust or will they just throw me into the shark tank and expect me to know what I’m doing? Those questions are all linked to the scenario where I actually have a job. Have any of you tried to apply lately? It’s brutal out there! Whenever I get motivated for a few hours and send out applications thinking I did something there with that really thoughtful cover letter, I get humbled real quick when nobody responds. C’mon, not even a rejection?

With every failed application (at least I assume it failed after not hearing anything back for three months), I get more discouraged, and whenever I allow the thoughts to linger for more than two seconds, panic arises. What if nobody ever replies? What if I never find a job? What if I end up in the unemployment line at the Social Security Office? Those questions are so consuming that I tend to dwell on the negativity and forget to live in the moment. Yes, future planning is important. Yes, I will need a job and make money. BUT I’m also still a student. Good news: I recently decided that I won’t let my post-grad anxiety ruin my last weeks of college. I’m learning how to find my place in the “real” world while enjoying the place I’m in right now. Uncertainty can be scary, or it can be exciting. I have no idea what my future holds. But on the bright side, that means that there is a possibility that it holds something good.

My advice to myself and everyone who is experiencing post-grad anxiety is to focus on the positive. What if nobody responded because the perfect job is still out there? What if I find a job that I love? What if I make so much money that I become one of those people who are prime targets for pickpockets because they always carry an absurd amount of cash? If that makes you roll your eyes and think, “as IF!, then remind yourself that it’s just as (un)likely as the first set of what ifs. One is catastrophizing, the other is idealizing. Neither mirror reality, but the difference is that while catastrophizing leaves us anxious, scared and drained, idealizing gives us confidence and hope.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather look into the future with confidence because at the end of the day, none of us know what tomorrow holds. Why ruin our today with senseless worrying if we could focus on what we can control instead? Perhaps that realization is part of maturing and if I start now, maybe by the time I graduate I will be ready to be a full blown adult.