Meltzner: To the class of 2022: Let’s ease our graduation anxiety

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(Graphic Illustration by Falyn Sebastian | The Collegian)

JD Meltzner, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Times of major change and transition are the most impactful and altering experiences that occur in one’s life. These moments have the ability to give rise to such a unique myriad of emotions in a way that no other life milestones can. This influx of emotion can create confusion; the excitement of impending new horizons collides with the sadness of closing another chapter to create a bittersweet soup that makes these transitional moments in life murky and raw. 

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One of the biggest transitions comes in the form of graduating college and moving into the infamous real world. Carving out a space for oneself in college is something that can take the full four years, and that initial process of leaving home can be a daunting task in itself. 

“Whatever feelings may be stirring within you, it is vital to feel them — both the negative and positive. By doing this, walking across that stage to collect the diploma all those late nights and early mornings have led to will not only feel worth it, it will also feel right.”

Fully detaching from the structure of school — something most of us have been part of for over 12 years — is an entirely different animal.

As a senior myself — one who only has a mere handful of months before receiving a diploma — the meteoric highs of completing my education have become muddied by worries of having to face whatever comes next relatively alone, not to mention entering a world that seems unprecedentedly chaotic and unpredictable. 

How does a graduating senior reconcile the confusing nature of this period of change to enjoy this exciting chapter before it ends? How do we alleviate the concerns of security posed by the turbulence of our current societal climate? The answer is twofold. 

Reconciling the final semester can only be achieved by allowing yourself to feel all of the emotions that are stirred by leaving the college years behind and acknowledging they are a normal part of moving forward. Especially when it comes to the more painful aspects of leaving college behind, we need to be consciously aware that it is OK to feel sad at times.

There are simply some elements of change that are just sad. Moving away from friends, leaving behind a town we’ve called home for the past four years — they’re things that are innately hard to accept, and the only way to eventually reach acceptance is to allow yourself to feel those feelings as they arise.

“Just because life is changing at breakneck pace doesn’t mean we can’t change right along with it. All it takes is a deep breath and a conversation with a friend. Accept the lows with the highs, and know that together, graduating can be an excitingly nostalgic blend of looking back and letting go.”

You must, however, also acknowledge the positives. Allow yourself to be excited even though you’re leaving things behind. Graduating is a major accomplishment — simple as that — and it should be celebrated as such. Coming to terms with whatever plans you made for the future is just the same, even if those plans are still in development.

Get excited about moving to a new city or a new job if that’s what lies ahead, or feel content with sticking around to make sure whatever step you take next is the right one.

Whatever feelings may be stirring within you, it is vital to feel them — both the negative and positive. By doing this, walking across that stage to collect the diploma all those late nights and early mornings have led to will not only feel worth it, it will also feel right. 

Even with an understanding and acceptance of the raw emotions of graduation, the worry of what faces us out there in the world as the class of 2022 is a completely different beast. The answer to this concern lies in the fact that we are all facing it together.

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The person who sits next to you in class, your roommates, your friends — all your peers who are also graduating this year — assuredly have some questions and concerns. So why not voice them? Why not ask for help? If you’re not asking for help, why not simply talk about how you feel and find solace in the fact that you are not alone in your not-knowing?

Sure, the world right now can be a scary place filled with division, uncertainty and instability, but there is a whole generation of young adults who are staring down the very same barrel. Supporting each other and finding solace in camaraderie is the best weapon we have against the real world. 

These uncertainties only become a weight to bear if you allow them to; if you force yourself to worry in solitude, the worries only become grander and more taxing on your mental health.

Don’t be afraid to seek support because chances are, that person could use some support from you as well. By supporting each other, we can all help alleviate the worries of our generation.

When all is said and done, it is futile to believe the final semester of college will be several months of school full of the same college experiences as the rest. It’s not the same — in fact, it’s monumentally different, and sometimes that can be a confusing thing to deal with.

However, just because life is changing at breakneck pace doesn’t mean we can’t change right along with it. All it takes is a deep breath and a conversation with a friend. Accept the lows with the highs, and know that together, graduating can be an excitingly nostalgic blend of looking back and letting go. Above all else, remember you’re not alone and you deserve everything you’ve worked for.

Reach JD Meltzner at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @jd_meltzner.