College Didn't Prepare Me to Graduate

[Original post date: December 2013]


Here I am, days away from zipping up my black gown, slowly moving my tassel to the left side of my cap, and swaying to Carmen for the last time. It’s all surreal.

As I “prepare” to graduate, I realize I’m not prepared. I’m scared. Terrified. And frankly, I don’t care if that sounds dramatic. I’m terrified to have a piece of paper that says I can take tests fairly well and I know some things about the cochlea. I’m scared to say goodbye to those precious college moments; spontaneous Mirror Lake jumps, overcaffeinated finals weeks, and having an excuse to eat oatmeal and scrambled eggs 7 days a week. (I guess I can do all those things post graduation, but something tells me that lifestyle is slightly less acceptable)

I don’t think I believed this day would come. Subconsciously I thought I’d be in college forever; that I’d never leave this stage of my life. But ready or not, 3.5 years vanished. God did amazing things in my life during my undergrad years and I have hope that I will be ready to celebrate those beautiful moments in time, but for now, I need to be sad. 

I’m starting to realize that somehow I forgot to schedule classes titled: “How to Pay Off Student Loans,” “How to Cope with the Stress of Graduating,” and “How to be a Normal Functioning Addition to Society.” I missed those courses in the master schedule. Friends, the past several days have been hard for me as I’ve stared the giant question mark that is my future in the face. I guess in reality, each day is a giant question mark for all of us, but right now I’m incredibly aware of the lack of control I have in my life. I’ve had a few panic attacks and a few mental breakdowns, but I’m still here, still graduating, still unprepared.

Jesus has been ever so near to me over the past couple days. Walking with me to SBX to pick up my white Arts and Sciences tassel. Holding my hand as I sobbed for the first time in months. Waiting for me by my bed each morning as I begged him to let me stay under my covers forever (or wake me up in Disney World). He’s been here; near and patient, showering me with the love I need to swallow my fear and take another step.

I’m here to say, if you’re graduating (and even if you’re not), it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel unprepared and it’s okay to have a breakdown. It’s okay to have more fear and sadness than excitement. It’s okay to miss dorm life and crappy North Commons brunch. It’s okay to miss friendships that ended long ago. If you’re around those graduating, please don’t tell us to calm down. Please don’t tell us it’s all going to work out and that it isn’t a big deal. Let us be scared and sad. I’ve been blessed with friends who have let me be grumpy and roommates who let me forget my chores this week. I’m surrounded with a lot of grace; thank Jesus. 

My prayer for you is this: wherever you’re at, staring at a giant question mark on the days to come, look into the eyes of Jesus. Let Him whisper into your fear; reminding you that He loves you and you don’t have to have it all together. He sees you and His presence is real in your life. Hold his hand as you walk across the stage of uncertainty. I know I will because if I don’t, I’ll probably be curled up in the fetal position or MIA.

I also covet your prayers over the next few days. Know that I am praying and thinking about all of the seniors, graduates and those facing the grief, confusion, and uncertainty that comes with that diploma you’ve always wanted.

xo Whit