In the weeks leading up to my high school graduation, I was beside myself with excitement. While vaguely aware of the impending nostalgia I would inevitably feel for all that I was leaving behind, I was overcome with anticipation for the sure-to-be wondrous reality of life post-12th grade.
It was not until after the commencement cap-throwing that the full weight of finality struck me and I realized how daunting the obscurity of the future truly was. In true 17-year-old fashion, however, I accepted trepidation as necessary to the experience; the prospect of another beginning was thrilling largely because it was formidable.
Now, as I prepare to graduate from college, I can’t help but to notice how different the framing of the approaching transition is from that of the one I made four years ago. Whether we enjoy high school or not, it is ingrained in our cultural psyche that “real” life does not truly begin until we step out, diploma in hand, to face the vast world and its endless possibilities.
College, then, is a kind of grace period for self-discovery before we are launched into adulthood. While we are drawn to the allure of opportunity as high school graduates, at the end of college we are inundated with newly-acquired obligations and dire predictions of job market growth. The prospect of the future, once equal parts daunting and exciting, is oftentimes just daunting.
However, if there is one thing I have taken away from The College of Wooster and the liberal arts education it provides, it is the importance of maintaining a certain degree of audacity when confronting whatever challenges post-grad life presents.
During our time here, we have developed an appreciation for the value of creative thinking and ingenuity. We have formed lifelong friendships and created countless memories. We have made good decisions and bad decisions, and learned from both.
All of our experiences, however, do not converge to form “the best four years” of our lives; rather, they provide us the realization that college is a chapter we have opened but will never close, and that the prospect of graduation is only as intimidating as we allow it to be.
Admittedly, however, casting aside all apprehension of the future is easier said than done.
For many of us, it doesn’t matter if we have the next 20 years planned or if we haven’t thought past the end of May: the idea of leaving Wooster and confronting the many hurdles of post-grad life is, at times, unsettling, especially given the economic environment that awaits us. The crisis of 2008 has produced countless horror stories about the difficulty recent graduates face in finding and securing a job. Even when†† employment opportunities present themselves, they may not provide viable career paths or much room for advancement. While unemployment is in no way appealing, neither is the prospect of taking a job you don’t enjoy just to make ends meet. The cause for concern is certainly understandable.
Nevertheless, giving in too much to stress takes away from the sense of adventure that should accompany the new beginning marked by the impending commencement ceremony. While the challenges we face upon graduating from college are much different than those we faced at the end of high school, our approach to both transitions should embody a similar action: the recognition of the promise that lies in uncertainty.