Advice Column: Graduation Survival List

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A graduation ceremony. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

This is my last article for this column. I’m graduating from William Jewell College in less than two weeks, and from there I’ll be moving on to my studies at seminary.

My undergraduate graduation feels very different than my high school one. Hardly any of my high school friends and I frequently talk, and I’ve invited almost none of them. People have entered and exited my time as an undergraduate, and we have all undergone growth during this time. Furthermore, graduating high school was a joyous occasion – I was no longer subject to my school’s setting, or my school’s morality issues. Jewell doesn’t just feel like an escape – there’s plenty I’ll miss about my time here.

Seeing as it’s been so different, I’ve been paying close attention to myself and what I’ve needed. Here’s how I’ve been managing the graduation feelings this time around:

1. Restricting my social media usage

For me, most of my social media accounts are connected to friends from high school. I’ve been seeing other people’s graduation photos and cliché captions – and there remains a few significant people from that time who I am no longer connected with at all.

I don’t really like seeing other people’s graduation pictures right now. As selfish as it sounds, I want to focus on myself. Avoiding social media has allowed me to focus on my own feelings, my own journey and the loved ones in my life that are by my side –  metaphorically and literally.

2 . Taking time to simply enjoy being on the hill

This year has been hard on a lot of us. For me, this year has been filled with Oxford homesickness, friend homesickness and an eagerness for the future. As much as I’ve been present with myself, there have been many moments where I’ve been paused in mourning. Mourning for my time in another country, mourning for people that are no longer part of my life. As much as this is necessary, I’ve been taking the time to be on campus, admiring and getting ready for leaving. Naturally, this includes taking the time to be with my favorite trees on the hill.

3. Celebrating the growth and challenges of the last four years

Now that the worst tests of my semester – comprehensive exams – are officially finished, I’ve also been using my free time to celebrate. My undergraduate years have been filled with challenges anticipated and unanticipated. For all the bad that has happened, I have learned how to begin emotionally taking care of myself. My family is happy, my friends are doing well and taking care of themselves – there is much I have to be thankful for.

4. Packing and cleaning

As much as this is a necessity that is unrestricted to the end of the semester, packing my things and readying my dorm room for my departure has slowly begun. It is something I can take time to go through my things and mindfully, physically, take stock. It has been deeply cathartic to send my textbooks from the past years – necessary for my exams – home. As it is the last time I’ll be exiting for the summer, I’m being a little more attentive to my things, whether it’s my collection of mugs, my books or my decorations. This extends to my Jewell email, which desperately needs to be re-cleaned since the last purge of unimportant emails months ago.

These four things have been very helpful in guiding me from exam mindsets to saying goodbye to my time here. I’ve cherished the moments that have led to me being here, sitting in my room, writing this article. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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