This one’s for you 2021 grads.
As you leave Spring break behind and head into your last couple of months as a college undergrad, I know there are about a million and one things running through your head. I was in your exact position a year ago and being that my year also had the unfortunate fate of graduating in a pandemic, I wanted to give you some insight into handling these last few weeks before the adult world. I decided that a letter that I would send to me one year ago (if that technology existed) would be the best way to get these thoughts across, so here we go.
You’re almost at the finish line, 4 years that came and went in the blink of an eye and I know you’re unsure if you’re ready for these huge changes in your life but I promise eventually you will get there, there’s no need to rush it.
You have 2 and a half more months left in your little beach house and I want you to try your hardest to soak in every moment. Don’t immediately retreat to your room at night for some Netflix, instead spend the night on your couch watching a cheesy rom-com with your roommates that I promise you you’re going to miss like crazy. Don’t pass up on the beach days, Bachelor nights, or even a joint trip to the grocery store, because these opportunities are going to be gone before you know it.
Make sure you eat all of your favorite foods in your college town! Freebirds isn’t going to be a quick walk down the block pretty soon, so let yourself indulge, the home cooking can wait until June. You can’t take your campus coffee shop with you, so soak up all of that espresso now while it’s still close.
Try to put your phone down once in a while and really be present. When you end up doing backyard yoga with your roommates, don’t think about the photo opp. Focus on being there in that moment because it’s going to be gone before you know it. Listen to the ocean waves crashing. Sneak a smile at the roommate in the row behind you as you dangle in forward fold. Appreciate everything that college brought you, especially the 14 faces around you.
And I know you’re devastated about having your graduation ceremony, and all of the pomp and circumstance that surrounds that taken away from you, but don’t just pout, there is still plenty of room for celebration. First of all, order that cap and gown! You may not get to walk across the stage and shake the Chancellor’s hand, but you still worked your butt off for that diploma, so get those robes to wear during virtual graduation, take pictures in, or hey just strut around your house because you did it and no one can take that away from you.
As far as Graduation Day goes, I know you were expecting a big family affair, a long ceremony, and probably an expensive lunch to top it off, but looks like you’re going to need to pivot to plan B. Try your best to shift your perspective because now instead of sitting in alphabetic order with the thousands of other Communication majors, you get to spend your day with the best friends that actually shaped your college experience. Plan a brunch to celebrate your achievements. A cake? Absolutely! And of course you need to make the walk your own, so how about picking a song that encapsulates your college experience while you walk past the TV showing your virtual graduation.
Now, I didn’t forget about that stress that’s been looming in the back of your mind. You feel like you need to have a full time job and a future lined up, but I’m here to remind you, you’re only 21. You have your whole life ahead of you to work, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself, and definitely don’t settle for a job that doesn’t fit your goals. You are capable of so much and your dreams don’t need to take a backseat because of societal pressures to secure a job immediately out of college. The time between college graduation and starting a full time job is your last real break, so don’t pass that up. Spend some extra time with your family and really recharge before you jump head first into adulthood.
Finally, be proud of yourself! You really did it and you worked so hard to get here. Enjoy every last moment of your college experience, hug your friends tight, and make memories that will get you through any tough days in the future.
old and wise 22 year old Maddie
So to all of my 2021 graduates I hope this little letter can offer you some perspective to carry into your final weeks of college. Don’t let a moment pass you by and make the very most of your unconventional college ending, because normal is overrated anyways right?