Dear College Grads,

About six months before graduation, college seniors either have the feeling of “Yes! No more school” or “what the hell do I do next.” For me, I was so excited to graduate, but not for the reason you think. I was wary of leaving the place I called home for the past four years, but I was SO excited to be “a grown up.” I graduated at 21 years old and actually wanted a full-time job. I wanted a daily routine, a cubicle to decorate, and a job with a steady income.

When a lot of people around me were planning their spring break and post-grad trips or their relaxing vacations lounging on the couch at home, I was scouring job forums and applying to every job I could find that sparked my interest. I had countless interviews, phone screenings, and follow-up phone calls, but nothing clicked. I felt the need to land my dream job right out of the gate. I felt the need to get an impressive job so I could prove to everyone that I did it, and my endless hours of searching would pay off. It was mentally exhausting and physically draining. I was almost always stressed or crying (even in public… yikes).

A month before graduation, I drove 3 hours for a job interview that didn’t pan out. A two-hour interview ended with an insincere “we’ll be in touch.” I sat in my car devastated that a day spent traveling was wasted, and dreading the drive home. As I was crying my eyes out (per usual), I finally decided enough is enough. I was putting way too much pressure on myself, and I finally realized it. I stayed in bed for a whole day, taking time to recover mentally. After those exhausting months, I finally let go of the idea that my “dream job” had to fall in line with my college graduation. Then, I got back into the routine of applying and scheduled another interview. Little did I know that this company would end up being my very first “big-kid” post-grad job.

My parents, friends, and fiance all told me a million times “things are going to work out,” but I never believed that things would fall magically into place. So, I spent all my free time stressing the heck out. While things don’t magically fall into place, and I firmly believe that all my hard work did pay off, there was no need to stress out as much as I did. If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be: do everything you can do to make your dreams become a reality, but enjoy the moment you are in and STOP STRESSING OVER EVERYTHING. Not the most profound thing to ever come out of my mouth, but probably the truest.

Your worst critic is, and always will be, yourself. I kept telling myself, “I’ll never find a job” and “what if no one wants to hire me?” (something I said to myself and everyone around me every single day). You get back what you put out. All I put out was negative energy and thoughts, and what I got back was rejection and missed opportunities.

Once I finally let myself calm down and tell myself that I was going to be okay, SURPRISE, I was! Before my final interview, I told myself that I was amazing and qualified for this. I deserved this. So I went in with the mindset that I was coming out with a job.

And guess what? It became a reality. I landed my job, cried (naturally), and celebrated with some donuts, and lots of happy dancing. So, at risk of sounding cheesy, the one thing I want to tell all the college seniors who are about to be in my position is EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON, STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF, STAY KIND, AND EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY. And it’s okay to cry. This is one of the scariest, exciting, nostalgic, heartbreaking, and thrilling times of your life. You’re about to graduate college, and that is something to celebrate.

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