“Dear College, This is Where I Leave You…”

Graduation is one of the most surreal things you will experience. It’s the moment you have spent the last four years (heck, the past 22 years) working, stressing, and growing towards. It’s both exciting and terrifying that you go from complete elation to sobbing in seconds. You suddenly feel so unsure of everything despite actually knowing some much. 

While no two college experiences are the same, this range of feelings and emotions are shared among your classmates in the seats next to you and those wearing “Class of 2017” tassels around the world. When you finally reach graduation day, you stand on this precipice, forced to reflect on how you go there and where you are to go next. We asked one of seniors and longtime CollegeFashionista Style Guru, Megan Sharp, to try to articulate what it feels like to be a member of the Class of 2017.

Wow. You would think as I near graduation I would have a more profound word to articulate for my feelings on finishing my college undergraduate education, but the simple exclamation seems fitting. There are so many thoughts racing through my head. My first thought is, ‘It’s over; the papers, the exams, the insanely long reading assignments… it’s all over.” But this thrill is quickly followed up with the burning question: “So now what?”

I learned a lot in college. And while yes, some of that knowledge was found in the pages of textbooks and lectures I forced myself to attend despite their early hours; I also learned a great deal outside the classroom. Being the nostalgic person that I am, I’m going to share with you the thoughts currently dancing around in my brain. I’m going to sit down and fill this post with some of the things that I definitely would’ve wanted to know if I was currently a freshman, sophomore, junior, or even a rising senior (if I include everything, you may graduate before I finish).

1) Listen to yourself.

If your body and/or mind are trying to communicate with you, listen to them. They are the two greatest gifts you’re given in this life, so use them well. If something does or doesn’t feel right, go with your gut. This goes for everything: your professional career, your relationships (romantic and platonic), and your mental and physical health. In simplest terms, if you feel a headache coming on, close the laptop and lay down. Seriously.

2) Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments.

If you spend all your time stressing about the next assignment and never stop to say, ‘I got an A on this paper, so I’m going to grab an iced latte to celebrate,’ you’re going to be miserable. If you land yourself an internship: celebrate! If you got off the waitlist for that class: celebrate. If you master finally being able to fold your laundry: celebrate! Celebrating yourself and your achievements doesn’t have to be materialistic; it can be something as simple as allowing yourself to smile and accept the compliments your professor has scribbled all over your paper.

3) Open your heart and your mind.

You spend the first 18 years of your life surrounded by the comfort of friends and family who just get you. So when you are launched into a sea of unfamiliar faces, it’s hard to trust these seemingly strangers enough to open up. How could someone possibly understand exactly how you feel? Truth is, they probably don’t. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to listen and be a shoulder for you to lean on (you’re going to need it). College is the place to find ‘forever people.’ No, I’m not talking about the person you’re going to marry. Maybe you’re like me and you don’t want to get married or maybe you’re just not thinking about that yet. ‘Forever people’ are the people who will stand by you when you land your dream job or move to the other side of the country (or the earth).

4) Do what you want to do.

You are always going to have people, including your parents, hitting you opinions on what they think you should do. So what? No one knows you better than you. If you don’t like your major, change it. If you aren’t 100% sure what you want to do by the time you graduate, that’s okay. One of the greatest lessons I learned through interning at CollegeFashionista is that you have complete control over your life and knowing, or not knowing, what you want is completely valid. Experiment. Try new things. Take risks. Above all, follow your heart.

I know. That was a lot and I’m almost done. I have been so fortunate throughout my college career. At CollegeFashionista, I have worked in a supportive environment surrounded by an amazing team and made friendships that will last forever. At Pace U, I have a gorgeous group of friends who I would not have survived the past four years without. At home, I have a family who loves and supports me. There is no way I would be where I am without them. (Thank you, Mom and Dad. I definitely don’t say that enough.)

So, I leave you here. Now, it’s time for you to build your life. Make the most of your time in college because it will fly by. It’ll be hard. You’ll feel overwhelmed. Your heart is going to get broken, but keep going. Do not miss a moment. Stand up and take a flat lay of your food, who cares if people watch? Eat an extra cookie: they’re delicious. Buy the dress; it looks amazing on you, I’m sure of it. Your question is not stupid; e-mail the professor because they’re there to help you. Oh, and one final reminder: breathe.