This weekend, I sat among 473 other graduates and over 3,000 friends and family for Taylor University’s graduation.
Weird. I thought you graduated a while ago.
I did, but I wanted to come back and walk with my friends.
But because I’ve been out of college for five months now, I have a few things to share with you. First:
We did it!
You did it!
While it’s easy to brush off your accomplishment, remember that a college education is still a HUGE deal. According to a 2015 Educational Attainment Census, only 33% of the United States population (ages 25+) hold Bachelor’s degrees or higher (42% hold an Associate’s or higher). Your diploma is more than just a piece of paper. Your degree shows your dedication to higher learning. It is coated in your blood, sweat, and sleep-deprived tears. It is worth showing off.
But your diploma still is only paper. It will mean nothing unless you put in hard work after you get your degree. My degree means nothing to me if I’m not putting my best foot forward. I want to pursue a career that I work hard for because I’m passionate for my work – so passionate that I want to “die at my desk.” Almost literally.
Second, all graduates come out of their ceremonies in different places. One of my co-majors came into grad practice an hour after getting married. Each of my roommates has a job waiting for them. I came out with no Ring by Spring, no job, no apartment, but a family that I could rely on. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
That doesn’t mean wherever you are that it isn’t hard. Sometimes you feel hopeless: no one wants to hire you; you may as well stop trying. You have a great job but no social life; what’s the point? You have great friends, but your boss works you to the bone.
Regardless of where you are: don’t give up!
Will Ferrell describes what I, and many other graduates, are going through in his Commencement speech at the University of Southern California. He was jobless for two years out of college. He found something that he loved afterward – and that was okay. He looks back now and is grateful for how his life turned out.
He gives great advice. (I suggest starting at 7:20.) Check out his speech:
Third, “temporary” is a state of mind. If you go back to your parents’ house, don’t be afraid to unpack your bags. I waited a full week because I wanted to move on to bigger and “better” things.
Put some photos on the wall. Make yourself feel at home. Get a part-time job to prepare for loans coming your way.
While things may be temporary, enjoy the journey to the future. Enjoy the little moments and catch up on your family members’ lives. A lot changes in four years. Even if they haven’t changed much, let them get to know the new you.
Hats off to you, grads. You earned it!