There are two types of post-graduation personas:
1) The "GET ME OUT OF HERE" girl: she was always checking the countdown clock on her phone, her bags were packed since March, she has her next steps figured all the way out, the "College? Don't know her" girl.
2) The "College are the best years of our life" girl: she always posts #tbt's on Instagram, she always "has a plan" but never wants to talk about a career, she's already planning post-graduation meetups. She's not ready to move on, girl.
While graduating college is an incredible achievement, regardless of your path or the length of time it took to secure your degree, graduation is not supposed to be the end but rather the beginning of an exciting future.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with reminiscing or staying in contact with friends and mentors who you connected with during the last 4+ years. In many ways, they are our lifelines. However, holding onto old relationships and memories should not prevent you from forming new ones. Use key lessons and successes from undergrad as a platform from which you will jump and soar to new heights now that you are the OG BAE – #BlackAndEducated.
Your price just went up. Act that way.
Here are 4 Do's and Don'ts for recent graduates to consider so you will NOT be that girl who peaked in college:
The author, top right, and friends at Cornell University. (Raheel Yanful)
Don't: Go with the flow (for too long).
Do: Be intentional about your next steps.
I repeat, and I repeat, going with the flow is not a plan. Taking a break is one thing, and a fundamental component of self care, but being intentional even in your uncertainty is incredibly important. Go to networking events. Reach out to alumni from your alma mater at companies you're interested in. Offer to work an unpaid internship or shadowing opportunity in order to get your foot in the door. Even if you decide that you do not like a certain career path or opportunity, that realization alone can help point you in the right direction. You are not going to magically fall into your next move by hanging around people and environments that are full of distractions. Discomfort is a part of moving forward, but leaning into it can prove to be more satisfying in the long run.
Don't: Hold onto relationships you have outgrown.
Do: Protect your peace. Let go of toxic people, keep your true friends close, and allow room for new friendships.
The same way clothes and music go out of style, so do relationships… and that's okay. Your history with someone should be a factor in sustainability but not the end-all-be-all. Every once in a while, especially after graduation, you should do an inventory of your friendships and question who is truly an asset. Be honest with yourself. If someone takes more out of you than they pour into you, let he, she, it, them go and don't look back. College is just one stage of many and you are going to continue meeting people who will go on to be your bridesmaids, children's godparents, partners in crime – your best friends. Don't miss out on these positive encounters for old baggage.
Don't: Reinvent the wheel.
Do: Be willing to switch everything up: your career path, personal brand, hairstyle – everything!
Just because a certain tactic worked for you in one stage of your life does not mean it will work for you in another. While sticking with what you know can be comforting, it should not be a crutch. Particularly for younger graduates, our 20s are all about exploration. Accept that job across the country. Pick up a new hobby. Cut off those relaxed ends. Nothing, especially your old reputation, should be enough to hold you back.
Don't: Live in the past.
Do: Reminisce, but make new memories.
There will definitely be moments where a song comes on and you will be transported back in time and suddenly miss your girls. Hold onto these moments, but remember that they are in the past. Don't be that girl who graduated three years ago but still goes to all of the undergrad pregames. It's time to move on, sis. Embedding yourself in old environments does not bring back the past, but just prevents you from embracing the future. Take a deep breath, turn up that song, and then keep it moving.
Four years is nothing compared to the next 40. Make them count.
*Featured Image: The author, a 2018 graduate, from Cornell University. (Raheel Yanful)