Life After College

A week and a half ago, I graduated from college. Trembling, watched by hundreds of eyes and a few cameras, I walked across a stage, shook some hands and was done.


I got through college in three years, which makes people think I have a fantastic something in store for this coming year: a career lined up or a grad school to plunge into. But I don’t. I’m living in my parents’ home—just as I’ve done every other summer of my life.

I know I should have plans. People tell me I’m bright and a hard worker and they’ll buy my book one day (because I studied writing so obviously I want to write novels).

But it doesn’t seem that simple. Not to me. It’s more than just getting a job or choosing a graduate program, more than just being smart and willing to work. I need to have a map for the next forty years because my professional adult life started as soon as I turned my tassel, right? But that’s not true.

I relish the moments when someone my age, a little younger or older perhaps, admits that they don’t have it all perfectly planned, either. But when an adult stares blankly at me after I tell them I don’t know what’s next come fall, I move quickly past and remind myself with quiet breaths that it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay not to know right now.

During the weeks leading up to graduation, when big change was looming above and in front of me, I needed some assurance that I would be okay as I kept walking forward. A common thread running through the songs I was listening to in those days became my reassurance.

From Lorde’s “Ribs”:

It feels so scary getting old

And hidden in “Portugal” from Walk the Moon’s new album:

You grow up when I’m not looking

we grow apart without knowing

and all of a sudden I’m leaving

… … …

One day you’ll learn

growing up is a heavy leaf to turn


And “Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots:

I was told when I get older, all my fears would shrink

but now I’m insecure, and I care what people think

… … …

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days

when our momma sang us to sleep

but now we’re stressed out

… … …

Used to dream of outer space, but now they’re laughing at our face

singing “wake up, you need to make money”

I sang these lyrics while studying for finals and dressing for graduation, while making the long three day drive back to Nebraska and now, as I settle down in my childhood home. The sentiment shared in these songs is giving me courage, like a prayer.

Yes, I want to crawl under the covers, hide there, make a fort and never come out. Yes, the years go by too quickly. Yes, the responsibilities of adulthood are overwhelming.

But it’s nothing new. Millions before me have made it through and so will I.

How do you make it through uncertain times?


5 thoughts on “Life After College

  1. Thanks for sharing, Emily! I hear people who are in their 40s and 50s saying that they’re trying to figure out what to do with their lives, which I find reassuring.

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