Surviving post-grad depression is hard, but it's not impossible
Walking onto campus for the first time as a freshman and walking off of campus for the last time as a senior are two vastly different experiences that welcome in a string of opposite emotions and feelings about the future. The biggest difference for me when I think about those two days is quite simple: I knew what was ahead as a freshman: school, classes, studying, etc.-- something I've been used to doing my entire life vs. stepping into the unknown as a graduating senior and becoming newly acquainted with the intimidating world of adulting.
There was no study guide for the transition that was taking place in my life after I graduated from college.
Of course, graduating from college and getting your degree is an exciting time and should be celebrated. It's what happens after all of the cheers, confetti, and celebrating have disappeared and you're alone-- that's what most daunting. You find yourself wondering why the life you were supposed to have after getting a degree isn't the one that you see. Or you simply become overwhelmed with the fact that you now have to figure out life outside of being a student, which has been the biggest constant in your life since the moment you learned your ABCs. Postgrad depression is real and it gets hard.
Postgrad depression has a way of ripping away your sense of self, making you feel as though everything you've accomplished up to that point was meaningless and you won't measure up when it's time to step into new spaces. It tells you all of these false things about yourself and makes you doubt that you can truly excel in life beyond college. You question yourself daily because you don't know what's next or what you're doing, but the truth of the matter is... no one does.
Survival; noun- the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal or difficult circumstances
Surviving the turbulence of post-grad depression is hard, but it's not impossible. The year after I graduated (aka last year!) felt like an endless cycle of tears, doubt, fears, and terribly dark days with no end in sight BUT alas, I survived and eventually woke up one day and no longer felt crippled by post-grad depression.
I get that saying "I woke up one day" makes it sound as if it was something that happened overnight, but I'm sure you know that's far from the truth. Untangling yourself from something that feels like it's completely taken over your life takes time and effort. For me, it started with taking off the huge weight I placed on myself the moment I walked across that stage. We get told that our lives are supposed to look a certain way after we get a degree, and the second I was handed mine I felt like I was already losing because I wasn't measuring up to societal expectations.
Your identity does not lie in the hands of a job title or what society says you should be/how far you should be.
I took off the weights and let myself be okay with what my life after college looked like in the present moment. And it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to what you see your counterparts doing every time you scroll through your social media feeds-- this only feeds the post-grad depression and makes you anxious as you envision the hands of the time clock of your life circling faster and faster. If no one has told you before... it's okay to take your time and go at your own pace. In the words of the late Nipsey Hussle, "It's a marathon, not a race."
Surrounding yourself with people that not only understand your struggle but can also affirm you in the moments when you don't feel good enough was something I found to be incredibly helpful. I made a point to be with people and do things that kept my spirits lifted. I made sure to just breathe, instead of constantly holding my breath for the next opportunity to happen.
Postgrad depression will try to keep you from doing things that bring a smile to your face, "letting your hair down" and relaxing because you're supposed to be grinding 24/7. Rest when you need to, enjoy life even when adulting makes it seem impossible.
If you've made it through post-grad depression, what's the biggest piece of advice you'd give to yourself before you graduated? If you're in the midst of post-grad depression, please know, as cliché as this may sound-- it gets better.
Do what works for you, this journey is your own and doesn't look like everyone else's. Celebrate your wins and your losses too because they're just as beneficial. Find a good therapist. Don't play the comparison game, it's not fun. Surround yourself with people that love you and are rooting for you as you're journeying at your own pace and in your own time.
Postgrad depression doesn't last forever.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget... Be great! xoxo.