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Leaving College Behind

This year has been an absolute whirlwind so far. One month ago, I married my best friend and my girlfriend of five years – just weeks after relocating from the apartment that we’d shared for three years. Five months ago, I graduated from IUPUI and officially left behind the campus I’d considered one of my homes since I was 18. My life has undergone a lot of changes for those reasons and others of late, but the difficulties of the transition from college to “adulthood” have really surprised me.

Until this spring, I feel like my entire life had led up to college graduation. In elementary school, they start telling you to think about what college you’ll go to. In middle school, they tell you to take your classes seriously so that when you get to high school you’ll get grades that will impress the college administrators. In high school, they tell you that you just have to get to college and then you’ll be set for your career. My teachers and administrators acted as if, somehow, when I left the college graduation ceremony that a red carpet would unravel from somewhere showing me my exact path to success.

Now, I knew that wasn’t going to happen when I graduated. Come May, I was a little nervous about what the future held but I felt ready. I already had a full-time job lined up that I’d been working for several months, which offered a greater sense of security than I saw a lot of my peers having. Anyway, hadn’t I been taught that the whole point of college was to find a real job afterwards? I crossed that off the list happily. Check! I didn’t realize what else I was going to be losing when I left academia behind.

I’m now five months into this transition, and I’ve been struggling. My wife and I finally got to a point where we looked at each other and said, “Why did no one talk about how hard this is?”

High school graduation was leaving school. College graduation was leaving community.

I checked all the boxes for what a well-prepared, educated young adult is supposed to look like. I graduated with highest distinction – but once I actually got booted from the nest, I found I couldn’t fly as well as all the tests said I would. I’ve been out here flapping my wings in confusion ever since. My former mentors are out of my reach, my friends are either moving away or bogged down with their own stressors, and all the resources I was used to accessing are no longer accessible.

I know that adult life isn’t supposed to be easy. I wasn’t expecting it to be. But this feeling – like your safety net has been pulled out from underneath of you – is jarring. For all my friends who are going through the same thing right now, I don’t have any answers, other than to just keep going. And don’t forget, you’re not alone in this. Let’s keep flying, albeit unsteadily, together.

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