Time really does fly by and I genuinely can’t believe that on May 21st (in one week!) it will be one full year since I graduated from college. So much has happened since then, but I still remember the feeling of leaving my home for the last four years and taking my first steps into “adulthood.”
Looking back on my graduation this week seems fitting as I keep seeing friends talk about their graduation plans and post-grad dreams. This can be a time filled with fear, sadness, joy, apprehension, and excitement, and you will probably feel each of those emotions at some point during the graduation process. All of that is completely normal with huge, life changing events!
For this reflective post, I’ll talk about the highs and lows of my graduation experience. I hope this will help to alleviate some of your fears and prepare you for your next steps!
My Favorite Memories:
- Partaking in all the school-sponsored events. Even though it was insanely hot outside during my senior week, I made time to go to a local brewery with friends, the senior ball, a funhouse with inflatable games, a cappella concerts, department brunches, and other events that were unique to my school experience. It was important to me to get the most out of what was offered, so I made sure to fit in everything that peaked my interest. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff??
- Taking time to just hang with friends. One of my favorite memories from senior week was of me and two of my close friends leaving campus to spend a day at Mass MoCA – a fantastic museum in Massachusetts! Not forcing myself to go to every single event the school offered (i.e. only choosing the ones that interested me) gave me time to breathe and spend time with the people I love without distraction. There will be so much to do leading up to graduation and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Sometimes the best thing to do before parting ways with your friends is to just simply be together. Those are the moments you will cherish.
- Planning your outfit, hair, and makeup wayyyy in advance. I was a complete nerd who saw a dress online my junior year and knew immediately that was the outfit I wanted to wear at graduation. I had a lot of friends scrambling to find the perfect dress or shoes the month leading up to graduation and got stressed out. If you know what you’re wearing at least a few months in advance, whether it’s already in your closet or a new purchase, it takes a lot of stress away from that *big day.*
- Having a graduation party. I know these can be played out and may bring every single relative out of the woodwork, but it is a great reason to reconnect with childhood friends and gather your family together. I really loved hanging out with my friends from all walks of life in one place – it gave the ceremony a special meaning and also gave me something to look forward to after college graduation. Graduation didn’t seem quite as *final* when I knew there was another fun event happening a week later. It definitely helped my nerves and kept me from getting too sad and overwhelmed by change.
- Having a summer plan. My plan was to take the summer off, travel, and reconnect with my family and friends before officially adulting. Whether it’s getting a full-time job, a summer job, a fellowship, interviewing, or just planning to chill out, cementing your post-grad situation helps you relax leading up to the big day. Listen to what you need mentally and physically and go from there. After all, you’re only this young once and this is an opportunity to try out something new!
- Not taking it easy and taking care of myself. Unfortunately, I got overwhelmed by the excitement, numerous activities, and extreme weather (humid and 90 degrees all week), which resulted in me getting dehydrated and having a heat headache. I ended up missing a dance at the end of the week and had to sleep the headache off. Luckily, it was a one-day episode, but if I had listened to my body and not pushed myself (and drank a LOT more water) I wouldn’t have been in that position at all and missed out on a fun way to bond with my class.
- Waking up earlier on graduation. I thought I had left myself enough time to get ready and I was definitely off. I thankfully had my dress and shoes ready in advance and did my makeup the way I wanted to, but I did not have enough time to style my hair. If there’s one aspect about getting ready that you struggle with (like me and hair), I’d highly recommend devoting an extra hour or half hour to it so you get everything just right. There are a lot of pictures where my hair just looks flat and frizzy under my graduation cap and I wish I had done something different.
- Stressing about the future. No matter how your feelings manifest, a huge change like this may bring a lot of mixed emotions to the surface. I cried from worrying about leaving behind my friends and whether I was ready to take on the real world many times as it got closer to graduation. It was hard, but I needed to just release my fears before I could live in the moment and enjoy my final weeks on campus.
When it came to my dress, I knew that I wanted to wear white in keeping with the tradition of my high school white graduation gown. I rarely wear white, so to me the color holds more significance for special occasions. However, I knew I didn’t want a plain white dress, so when I found an embroidered option I knew it was the one!
Shoes: Similar, but same brand
There’s also another great reason to have a graduation party: you can wear two amazing dresses! Or, in my case, wear the same dress but actually get your hair done the second time.
As always, feel free to comment or DM me with your graduation experiences. I am more than happy to answer questions you have. I wish anyone going through this phase of their life all the best with your graduations and grad parties! Congratulations!!!