Moving on after graduation can be an incredibly difficult transition. I know because I did it. And several of my friends have done it. Our stories have all been a little different, but we all experienced the challenges of this stage of life. This is the first post in a new series called The Next Chapter, in which I will detail the steps of the process from ending one chapter to beginning another. I hope you stick around for the ride!
Leaving a place and a group of people you've come to love isn't easy. It certainly wasn't for me, anyway. It's particularly difficult when you don't have a clear path ahead of you.
When I was preparing to graduate, one of the hardest parts was saying goodbye to all my friends. I had an incredibly strong community around me all the time, and I didn't feel ready to leave them to move back home, where I didn't have any established community. It was daunting, to say the least.
I had to remind myself that things had always worked out before, so I had no reason to think this time would be any different. I found amazing friends when I got to college, in a place where I knew no one. Now I was moving back home, where I had family and a couple old friends. I had no logical reason to doubt that I would be able to find that again.
Something that helped was planning to stay in touch-- making concrete plans, not just "we'll talk, we'll stay involved in each other's lives." Unspecific promises fall as flat as the empty yearbook signatures in junior high that said, "we should hang out this summer." I never hung out with those people.
But I did make plans to see my college roommates, text them, and come back to visit. I knew it wouldn't be the same, but having plans to stay connected made all the difference.
Fighting Off Stress
When I started getting too stressed about having to leave everyone, I realized that I had to figure out what I needed to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
I wanted to say goodbye, but I don't like being the center of attention. I went around, making a couple of personal goodbye visits, but I didn't make a big production out of it. I wanted to make the most of my time there, not focus on the sadness of leaving.
Keeping it Positive
I also knew that I needed some positive, happy moments to try to balance out the sadness of saying goodbye. I made sure to carve out time to do fun things like hike the bluffs, walk around downtown, and eat ice cream with my friends before I left. I had an evening dedicated to spending time with my roommates, and we blasted the music, danced like nobody was watching, and laughed until we cried. It was the perfect way to go out.
The most important thing for me to keep in mind when saying my goodbyes was that most of them were really more like "see-you-later." Not only that, but I had more "hellos" ahead of me, too. It was certainly sad, but there were good things ahead, even if I couldn't see them all just yet.
Saying goodbye is hard, but it helped me to make room for fun memories to hold on to and to make concrete plans to stay in touch with my closest friends so that my goodbyes were more like "see you later."
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!
What experiences do you have in saying goodbye? Is it easy for you, or is it difficult? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!