I was speaking to a college class the other day, when such a simple fact donned on me. College students, especially seniors, are overwhelmed by the future and their inability to slow down being thrown at it. I know what you’re thinking: no doy, Berkeley. I realized as I was talking to these students about my college path that college anxiety is still such an unspoken panic.
When we’re in college, we joke about how they have no idea how to “adult,” or we talk about how difficult it is to balance classes, work, unpaid internships, and activities, but it’s rare to have a confidant to sit with and talk about how overwhelming it is.
No one is next to you at night when you lay awake because anxiety won’t let you sleep. Will you get a job after college? Are you taking the right steps? Did you choose the right major? What if that one test grade will keep you from passing a class? Are there any assignments you completely forgot about?
Y’all, I graduated four years ago, and I’m STILL having nightmares that I forgot assignments and failed a class.
The generic response for “How are you?” Is always “I’m okay,” but you know good and well those bubbling anxiety-driven thoughts are there. Like the constant dread (and excitement!) of graduation inching closer.
I was the same way in college. I laid awake for hours because my brain wouldn’t shut up, reciting my to-do list and what-ifs. I spent Saturdays in the library because I was constantly anxious over grades. Also, I was a nerd and I liked school. Whatever.
It took me until after I graduated, though, to realize one simple fact: you are right where you need to be.
There are so many roads you can take that it feels overwhelming. You want all the paths clear so that you have more options, but the magnitude of decisions is paralyzing. I know. I’ve been there, too. But guess what, boo? I graduated. I walked across that stage with a pretend-diploma in hand.
There are always going to be choices. It’s one of the best and worst things in life. But every moment up to here prepared you for where you are. You got here, to this moment. You are going to make it through where you are right now.
If you don’t feel ready, that’s fine, by the way. You can take the summer off after graduation if that feels right for you. Don’t believe the BS that it makes you a failure. You prioritizing your mental health and sanity before entering the workforce is brave. It’s heroic. It’s helping yourself and it’s helping others realize it’s an option, as well. Some of the people I look up to, all of whom have successful careers, took time off after graduation. I moved back to my mom’s house when I graduated and worked 30 hours a week at a small PR firm. It was what I needed, and to this day, I am so thankful I did it.
Do I feel that my anxieties in college were worth it? Nope. I know I can’t control your anxieties (I can barely control mine!) or tell you to snap out of it. That’s between you, your brain, and your therapist. But I can tell you this: you have gotten here, and you are going to get to the next checkpoint. Life is pushing you towards the inevitable future, yes, but it has always been doing that, babe. Control what you can, accept what you can’t, and enjoy the ride.