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The 7 Unexpected Stages of College Graduation

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fear after graduation

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It’s that time of year again! If you’re just about to graduate from college, this post is for you.

Step one: Don’t panic.

Step two: Read these seven stages of college graduation. Remember, for each of these stages, diagnosis is the first step to a cure.

1. Shock and denial

You’ll fall into one of two camps just before graduation: pure excitement about being your own person and jetting off into the real world, or pure and unfiltered terror that consumes you soul.

That pure excitement you feel? It’s actually denial. You’ll hit that terror stage soon, don’t you worry. That stage involves months of sitting on your ass, half-heartedly looking for a job and partying it up with your friends to avoid making any sort of real life decisions.

2. Pain and guilt

This is when you’ll discover the ease of life before and during college does not translate over to life after college. Remember how easy those steps were from birth to 22? Home with mom and dad, then school, then college and internships?

Well, those steps suddenly disappear beneath you after the safety net of university. And that slow discovery is painful and surprising, like you’ve fallen on your ass and the wind has been knocked out of you.

3. Anger and bargaining

This stage could involve anything from accepting a job at McDonald’s to taking drastic measures to get your dream job, i.e. advertisements, fancy resume or harassing your parent’s friends.

Don’t be surprised if you feel angry even if you’re not an angry person. It will pass, I promise. But it has to get worse before it gets better.

4. Depression, reflection, loneliness

Skyping your old college roommate at 2 in the morning? Check. Looking at Facebook photos from the good ole days? Double check. Yup, you’re in the depression stage.

Instead of revealing in the freedom of no longer having to write that thesis, you’re wistfully remembering the good old days. Don’t worry, it gets better after this step.

5. The upward turn

Yes! The positive uptick you’ve been waiting for. You’ll eventually get sick of looking back at said good ole days. You’ll decide enough is enough and you’ll start fantasizing about a better job, a better apartment, a better city. A better life, really. The one you thought you’d have by now.

And guess what? Eventually you’ll hopefully realize you can’t achieve those dreams unless you actually take some action.

6. Reconstruction and working through

Think of this as the break-up stage. You know when you split up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and then do something drastic like cutting all your hair off and dying it pink, or quitting your job to travel across the world? No? Just me?

The reconstruction stage is when we realize we need to actually start doing something to take control of our new lives. This involves anything from seeing a life coach to joining the Peace Corps to going back to school to finally getting a job – the right job. It typically happens around the 1-2 year mark post-graduation. Yeah, it takes that long.

7. Acceptance and hope

You rarely hear someone say that their early 20s were the easiest time of their lives. The months – or in most of our cases, years – after graduation are some of the hardest, frustrating and confusing years.

But those years make way for some of the most adventurous and heartwarming ones, which, yes, make it all worth it. So chin up folks, you can do it.

And P.S. Congraduations!

Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, hails from Connecticut and blogs at marianlibrarian.com.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.geekdashboard.com/ Amar Ilindra

    My College days are back to my mind after reading to my site. Almost tears rounded in my eyes

  • http://twitter.com/amandaabella Amanda Abella

    Great post! I think it really captured what I and so many others have gone through after graduating. This made me nostalgic over college, sad when I thought about the trouble I went through after college and relieved that I think I finally reached #7!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.rigonan Joel Rigonan

    I had my regrets as well hence shifting into another course because of thinking that it might not provide me a better future but I never had a regret as well when I shifted from Business to Communications. Now, I am on the verge of being a part of the media industry. After college, what’s next? The future.

  • http://www.techxreview.com/ Chetan

    nicely explained…college days are the most cherished days of life…

  • Katana

    I’m quite surprised that I’m in the “NORMAL” range for after-graduation “reconstruction.” I feel very slightly better.

  • http://www.google.de/ Osdod
  • Jonathan Lewis

    Hilarious and useful! Bravo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718494100 Deanna Mims MarketDone

    have you seen this with your kids or interns?

  • http://twitter.com/panpannui Ry Ann

    Ha! I’m still on stage 4. 2 weeks after graduation. sigh.

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