Graduation is an exciting time, but it can also come with feelings of confusion. You’ve likely spent the majority of your life in school. Now the door to the world is wide open and full of possibilities. But while the range of opportunities may be invigorating for some, for others it is overwhelming. With so many different paths to take, it can be confusing to know which is the right one for you. So if you find yourself feeling a bit lost after graduation, here are a few steps you can take.
1. Pause and Reflect
Perhaps this is your first time dealing with anxiety or confusion. Or maybe it’s just another week for you. Either way, one of the best steps to get back on solid ground is taking stock of your situation. How serious are your feelings? Are you simply listless, or is there a deeper issue at hand?
If the idea of leaving school life and going into the world puts you under tremendous pressure, consider seeking assistance. You could talk to a trusted friend, family member, or professor. Many people have walked this path before you, and their wisdom may help carry you forward.
But if you find the issue runs deeper and your thoughts are becoming darker, reach out for professional help. Many people encounter serious anxiety for the first time in their lives after graduating. Thankfully, a therapist can help you work through your overwhelming feelings.
You may also need to consider medication if you are in an especially grave state of mind. A licensed medical professional will be able to evaluate whether you require medical intervention. If you already have a prescription, make sure to keep taking it. Even if you’re moving somewhere new, it’s possible to continue receiving medication. Visit here to learn more about how you can get mental health treatment online.
In life, everyone needs help now and then, and these first major steps into the world can certainly be intimidating. If you find yourself needing assistance, know that you are not alone.
2. Travel the World
So you’ve taken some time to reflect. Although you may feel uncertain about what to do, you know you’re ready to take that next step. You just don’t know what it is yet. Spending a year abroad is a great way to explore the world and learn more about yourself in the process.
It isn’t always clear how the world works, and traveling will give you great insight into just that. At the same time, you’ll learn more about yourself by trying new things and meeting new people. By experiencing different cultures, you’ll encounter new ideas and ways of thinking you may have never considered before.
Traveling might seem intimidating as it can be expensive, and the logistics may be tricky to sort out. But there are many ways to travel cheaply and for extended periods of time. Work and volunteer opportunities like Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), Workaway, au pair, house sitting, and others exist worldwide. You could even train to teach English in other countries with Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). The money you make while you travel might fund your next flight if you’re diligent enough!
And despite the ongoing pandemic, now is one of the best times ever to travel. Countries have been hungry for tourists for over two years now. There are tons of different deals on travel packages, hotels, flights, and more. Dig a little bit, and you might be surprised at what you find. Maybe you’ll even become a digital nomad, and anywhere in the world can be your office.
3. Get Experience
One of the greatest barriers to entry for a recent graduate joining the workforce is landing that first job. Even jobs labeled as “entry level” are rarely actually that. Many companies want you to have at least a year’s experience to even consider you as a candidate. But how do you get job experience if you can’t get a job? That’s where internships come in.
Needing previous experience to land a job can seem counterintuitive (read: it is). Internships help you bridge that divide. They are essentially full-time opportunities that allow you to build the relevant skills and experience that employers seek. Usually, they last anywhere from a few months to a year and look great on your resume.
Jobs in many fields are highly technical and require more than a general bachelor’s degree. So if you’re interested in pursuing one of these more technical positions, consider seeking further education. Many advanced degrees also include practicum experience that serves the same function as an internship.
And if committing to further education after you’ve graduated seems daunting, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there’s a good chance you can talk to someone in the field you’re considering. This is where your school’s alumni association becomes an invaluable tool for you. Many alumni would love to point a new graduate of their alma mater in the right direction. If you’re fortunate, you may even find yourself a new mentor.
Know You’re OK
Figuring out what comes next after graduating can indeed be daunting. But keep in mind that this is one of the first times you’ve ever been faced with this much freedom. Some of the confusion and anxiety may come from not knowing how to handle this independence responsibly. You might feel like you want to turn away from it altogether. And if you think you need it, seek professional help.
No matter what you choose to do, you will learn something new about yourself in the process. You may not know what you want to do right now, and that’s OK. Just take a step, see what the world looks like, and go from there. Through a series of unfolding experiences, you’ll find an opportunity that fits, and then you can pursue it full force. Right now, every step you take is one toward your future, and the only person holding you back is yourself.