Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference. ~Arie Pencovici
In six days I will be walking across the stage for my college graduation–(assuming I make it through finals week, of course). Being so close to graduation, I find my mind in a constant state of nostalgia. I remember when I was in pre-school we were asked what we wanted to be when we grow up and I said I wanted to be a ballerina. Although that dream never actualized, I have learned so much since that day and I am still learning and changing what I want to be “when I grow up.” Something I know now is that we are never really grown up–it is never too late to learn about yourself, change who you want to be. So many of the things I have learned over my 16 years of education have been lost in the depths of my brain, inaccessible to me, but there are some valuable lessons I have learned that I will take with me through the rest of my life.
If there is one thing college taught me, it is time management. Juggling a job, a social life, and school work was a challenge, but it really taught me how to effectively manage my time. Freshman year was a wake up call to the amount of work college really is. I made it through high school barely studying and whipping out papers the night before–but I very quickly realized college was much different. Not studying or procrastinating papers was going to result in low grades. But I adapted to this new school setting and took away skills in time management. I know that this will be even more critical post-graduation. The responsibilities of being a “real” adult are going to continue adding up–working, paying bills on time, scheduling time for friends, family, travel, exercise–all of these things to manage when there never seem to be enough hours in any day. But I have learned when and how I can be most productive to make the best use of my time. Life is too short to not enjoy, but if you don’t effectively manage your day, time will slip away.
Taking advantage of your surroundings
It is so important to live in the present. As someone who is always looking ahead to the next big thing, I easily forget to enjoy where I am. Growing up I was always told, “Erin, appreciate your youth, enjoy being a kid, enjoy high school, don’t rush through things…” and I would just roll my eyes knowing I was ready to move on. But for the first time, I am wishing for things to slow down. I find myself thinking “Wait a minute! Stop! This is going too fast!” And I know the years are going to continue to fly by. I have come to realize how important it is to appreciate where you are and take full advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. College, in particular, is such a wonderful sort of utopia. A community of thousands of students only a few years of age apart, living, studying, working, and playing together. Hundreds of professors willing and eager to impart their years of experience and wisdom on us–coming to work every day to help make our futures brighter. There is no other place like this. But I do know that as I move on in my life, I will find other communities full of positive, interesting people. And it is so important to surround yourself with such people.
Home to school. Back home. Back to school. Back home. Off to Europe. Back to home. Back to school. For four years I went through 5 different homes– 5 different beds to sleep in, 5 kitchens to cook in, half my clothes at home, half my clothes at school. I was constantly readjusting to my surroundings, packing and unpacking. I didn’t mind all of the back and forth because I really thrive on change. But at times it was difficult to not have one settled place. I look forward to the day that I can move into my own apartment, set it up the way I like it and stay there awhile. But until then, I know I can handle change and adapt to new situations quickly. In life there will be unexpected changes that may throw you off, but I’ve learned that with confidence and a stable understanding of yourself you can adapt to any situation.
Lastly, a major skill I will continue to develop post-graduation is thinking critically. Too many people consume and believe information without questioning the motivation and bias behind who is distributing that information. In order to make informed opinions and decisions I know where and how to look for information. I don’t believe everything I read or watch–when watching commercials my roommates and I can talk about exactly who they are targeting and how. This is a critical skill to possess and will prove invaluable to me as I progress through my career. Politics, religion, government, and other institutions should not be blindly trusted and believed. It is a dangerous thing to have authority without accountability.
I am so grateful for my seemingly short time as a college student. I enjoyed every minute of it and know I will begin missing it the moment I graduate. But I also know that there are wonderful times yet to be had. I can’t wait to see what the graduating class of 2012 will accomplish in the future.