I’ve been to three college graduation ceremonies, but not once did I go up on stage. I show up happy (which I truly am) for my friends, my then boyfriend, and my younger brother respectively, but I can’t help but feel like a complete and utter failure. Looking back, I realize that it was a grueling internal struggle that taught me a hell lot of things about life and myself.
It’s okay to be burnt out.
Despite burnout being considered a legitimate syndrome, much of the talk around it has been mainly centered around workplace stress. Although it is definitely incomparable, you can’t dismiss the fact that college can foster an exhausting competitive environment.
It’s not you, it really is hard.
That’s actual footage of me turning 20, realizing that I’m on my way to become a full-fledged family disappointment. Nowadays, it’s expected that you aren’t just good at school. You also have to head org projects, go to the gym, have a great social life and even better skin, and somehow get enough sleep. Some people can do it (superhumans, I tell you!), but that doesn’t mean you have to, too. We often get so caught up in having the can-do attitude, and it ends up draining us in the long run.
College is often cast as the best four years of your life, but the reality is that too many students are anxious, overworked and paralyzed by the idea that one false move or rough patch will destroy their future. We would be better served if we were told that failure, while normal, is always unexpected, and that it is usually a useful lesson in something bigger.
You have to eventually pull yourself out of it, which may be one of the hardest things you have to do.
The thing with anxiety is that sometimes it can get comfortable. It feels a lot better to keep things the way they are than to just do something about it, even if you know it’s self-destructive. While it’s advised to just let yourself feel things, there’s a thin line that you’ll eventually cross and the whole situation will turn pathetic and unhealthy.
Sure, it’s easy to blame an unfair set of expectations put on you, or go crazy and tweet about your birth chart and mercury retrograde. Though where you are might not necessarily be your fault, it’s definitely your responsibility to better yourself. It’s alright if it takes a while, things don’t change overnight anyways. Getting better isn’t linear, what matters is that you keep trying.
Your brain will lie to you.
Probably the most helpful advice I’ve gotten from my therapist has been to not let your nerves get the best of you. Your anxiety often traps you inside your head by telling you about all the ways that it can go wrong, but when you just go ahead and do it, you’ll realize that things aren’t as bad as you thought they were. So it’s important to take that first step to pull yourself out of the funk.
The universe doesn’t care. That’s a good thing.
It can feel like the entire world is watching your every move, waiting for you to slip up just so they can laugh at it. The truth is, no one cares, so just do things at your own pace. So much of what you’re afraid of is usually a function of things you can’t control, so just focus on what you can control: yourself. It’s hard to not disappoint people in this life, but if you’re important to them then they will for sure understand. We always have to assume the best of everyone, that includes yourself.
There’s so much more you can learn outside of the classroom.
Formal education has its merits, but it’s definitely not the only way to go when you want to learn something. Funnily enough, most of the skills I use now aren’t things I learned from college. A lot of it I taught myself just by being on the Internet, but there are other places that give you the chance to try something new. You can start with courses online, enroll in TESDA, and build your skills through volunteering.
Additionally, people often leave out an important part about coming into work: essential skills, or what other people call “soft skills”. These refer to things like crisis management, problem solving, and communication. Though these are things that is often said to be the goal of some school activities, these are things that can’t be taught. A degree can’t guarantee someone will be able to work well in a team, or that they will be good at time and resource management, but experience will.
Luckily, more and more companies are changing the way they hire.
With the changing flexibility of work engagements and the work force, companies are starting to ditch the preconceived notion of valuing those with degrees over those without. They’re starting to see beyond what looks good on paper, and if you can prove that you can get the job done then there’s really not much to worry about.
Top companies in America have openly dismissed the requirement, with some companies in the Philippines following suit.
All too often, job requisitions will say they require a four-year degree, when in fact there's nothing about the job that truly requires a four-year degree.
You can have a bad day and go on to have better ones.
It’s a lot to take in, and if you’re right in the middle of what I’m talking about then you understand how hard it is and none of what I just said might matter to you. It can feel like it will never end, but you really just have to give it time. You’re just a person who’s had a bad day, and you’ll get better and your life will get better. Here’s a little piece of wisdom from The Dragon Prince to keep in mind whenever you feel lost:
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