It’s that time of year again. Graduation. It is a time of excitement – a rush of adrenalin thinking of ending one phase of life or education and moving onto the next. Graduation is usually a celebration of accomplishments, an opportunity to bask in the warmth of praise from those who’ve cheered us on and are proud we met our goal.
But graduation can also be a stressful, anxious, scary and depressing event, particularly for high school and college graduates. When we graduate 8th grade there aren’t that many decisions to be made about our future. We are going onto 9th grade. We may feel anxious or ambivalent about starting high school, but we know where we are going, we have a place to live and we already have friends. Usually.
When we graduate high school we have the stress of getting a summer job, saying goodbye to friends as we go off to college. Leaving home for the first time is very stressful. Our usual support system is no longer there and sometimes it takes longer than we want to make new friends. Maybe college isn’t in the future but we still need a good paying job and find very few options out there. Perhaps we are still living at home with parents whose rules seem unfair now that we are 18.
When we graduate college we are expected to ‘make it.’ There is a lot of pressure to be an adult, get a job, pay bills, and find a place to live. Maybe we need to move onto an advanced degree and have still MORE school ahead of us. A lot of times we move away from the good friends we made in college and are faced with starting all over again. OR we move back to our parents’ home and that comes with its own set of challenges.
I will always remember the day after graduation when I left the college house I lived in with 79 other women. My suitemate was sitting in the dinning room eating breakfast and my mom was waiting for me outside. It hit me. This very special time in my life was over. I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye to my friend…the one I’d shared the better part of three years with. My eyes burned with tears as I said, “I’ll see you later.” And I left.
My transition back into the adult world was relatively uneventful. But, that’s not the case for everyone. If you or someone you know is having difficulty with transitioning after a graduation, counseling can help. Counseling can help with goal setting and adjusting to new (or old) surroundings.