In 2015 I graduated from California State University Long Beach with a degree in Journalism, Emphasis in Public Relations & a minor in Event Planning Management.
I moved away from home & thought that the rest of my life started the day that I stepped onto the university grounds. The sense of independence was so real you could’ve swam in it! Everyone was getting their lives together, being grown, & doing big things. — There are countless all-nighters, mountains of Ramen noodles, & hours of reading textbooks (or at least pretending to).
While you’re in college you can’t wait to graduate & start your life – you make future plans, plan future trips, & spend countless hours daydreaming about how amazing life will be the moment you cross that stage & shake all those hands. You complain about the work, regret all the naps you didn’t take as child, & skip classes “just because.”
College life is a hard life. Being a #BrokeCollegeStudent IS. A. REAL. THING. I definitely wanted out, right at that very moment, every single moment.
Once I graduated I quickly realized a few things:
+ Nobody Really Knows What They’re Doing
People look at others & SWEAR that everyone else has “it” all figured out except themselves. Countless times I’ve been a part of conversations where people idolize others because they seem to have their life together on the outside. But in all honesty, NO BODY KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING!
Like, let’s be real! No one knows what the heck they’re doing. If you aren’t a married-parent-homeowner, AND settled in your career then you’re probably still fumbling around looking for food like the rest of us. I’m not saying that all of those things are equivalent to “having it all worked out,” but everyone is trying to figure out their lives & everyone is trying to find their own way. So just quit idolizing everyone else who seems to have their life together & focus on actually getting your life together.
Success isn’t measured by status, career, or anything like that. Success is defined the way you define it for YOURSELF. We may not know what we’re doing with our lives right now, but the day will come. Trust.
+ The Real World Is Scary
That’s all: “the real world is scary.” It’s as simple & difficult as that. It’s real life after you graduate, you’re not a kid anymore – the education system is no longer your safety blanket.
It’s expected that you take all necessary steps to achieve the life that you’ve always wanted after you graduate & that is undoubtedly a lot of pressure on any person. It’s the fear of screwing up your own life, any future you might have, possibly even your family’s lives. But if you believe in something greater than yourself, (I do!) you have to trust that things are going to work out for the better.
There are going to be some really rough patches. Like.. Unbearable. But it always gets better – believe that everything gets better & everything happens for a reason.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
+ Degrees Don’t Dictate Your Life
When I first started college, my major was Child Development, then I switched to Journalism/Public Relations then I graduated, & now I work with an amazing organization editing videos for broadcast & doing graphic design work. I don’t use my degree in the way that I imagined, & that is completely fine. Some of my best friends got their education in something completely different from what they’ve chosen as their careers.
We put so much emphasis on choosing a major & making sure that THAT is exactly what we want in our lives, for the rest of our lives. But we’re human – we are fickle. We’re going to change our interests, our aspirations, our goals. Your degree doesn’t dictate the rest of your life. You don’t need to work in that field if you don’t want to. Branching out IS a thing.
I’m not saying that you don’t need to get a specific education for all careers. Like, if you’re gonna be a doctor you definitely need to go to med school. But we’re only human. We figure it out. Life changes. You go with the flow, & eventually end up where you’re supposed to be – if you have a degree in it or not. Plus, you can always go back to school. There’s nothing wrong with that!
+ Experience Is Everything
It’s emphasized a great deal during your higher education that experience is a big deal. For the journalism program we were only required one internship – I was involved with 2 internships & I learned a lot. I’m thankful for my opportunities, however, if given the chance I would have loved to gain even more experience in the field of journalism & public relations from even more internships.
Internships are an amazing opportunity to get involved & figure out what you really like or dislike in the field that you’ve chosen to pursue. Just because you like one thing about it, doesn’t mean you like it all. Like.. I love journalism but HATE business journalism! There are numbers in it! Me + Numbers = No Bueno. But I digress.
Not only do you get amazing experience at these internships, you also have the opportunity to build your network. Which brings me to my next point!
+ Network Network Network!
College is not only about partying & hanging out with friends. Sure, that could be a part of it but being a professional & starting your career is a big part of that also.
Joining groups/clubs on campus that can push your career forward are great places to meet your peers & collaborate with your potential future coworkers/employers. Job fairs, internship fairs, conferences, & even campus groups (e.g. PRSSA) are great ways to meet the right people.
It may be nerve-wracking to go out & meet new people, but just remember that you’re all there for the same reason & everyone is looking to grow together. You are all collectively the future of this world – working & growing together is a must! Plus, making friends is always good!
+ You’re Going To Miss College
Deny it all you want, but it’s the truth. I find myself lying in bed some nights wishing that I had class the next morning haha!
Ok ok, maybe you won’t miss the homework, the endless studying, & the occasional jerk professor but you’re going to miss your friends, attending classes where you feel enriched & truly educated, & you’re going to miss the continuous flow of knowledge, & most of all: you’re going to miss having days off.
“You’re just a nerd, Jayzelle!” Nah dude, trust me when I say that you keep learning everyday even after graduation, BUT to be formally educated in any subject is a completely different story. College is an amazing place where you’re allowed to explore all things that make you the person who you are or even who you want to be. It doesn’t last forever, so enjoy it!
+ Value Your Education
I feel like this will probably be a no brainer – but value the education that you’ve received. There are many in the world that aren’t able to attend a university or college because they don’t have the means or they just aren’t given the opportunity due to their circumstances in life. When you’re in school you feel as if you’re surrounded by a sea of other students, but outside of those university walls there are even bigger seas of people wishing they were blessed with the opportunities you were given to receive an education.
When you finally do graduate, truly realize the great task that you’ve accomplished. It took 12+ years to get to that point, & damn it, it wasn’t an easy ride, but you did it! That is definitely something to celebrate. No one can take that away from you.
You may go through troubles in life, move from job to job, break a bone or two*, but no one will ever be able to take away your education. That is yours & it is yours forever. You accomplished something amazing in the time that you were in college & that is something that no one can ever change.
The real world is a scary place & sometimes growing up sucks as badly as we always thought it would as children, but at the end of the day life goes on & life is good. We get older, we keep moving forward, & the life lessons keep on coming. Take every day as a blessing & make this life the best you can make it! It’s all worth it in the end. Cheers!