Postgrad Panic: How to Keep Your Sanity in Your Last Year of College

4608963722_7c88e503f8_bWell, here you are. You made it. You struggled and worked through three years of classes—some great, some that tested your patience, some that affirmed that this is what you’re supposed to be doing—and now it’s almost over. You’re a senior in college!

And even though that’s supposed to make you feel wonderful and smart and prepared to enter the real world, it doesn’t. Instead, when you think about what you’ll be doing this time next year, you start to break into a cold sweat and one of your eyes inevitably starts twitching.

The thing is, until now, this moment felt far away. You reassured yourself that you’d have your life all figured out at this point, that you’d be ready to leave college behind. But now everyone around you seems to be securing full-time jobs, and you feel like you’re on the outside looking in.

Scary, huh?

It’s hard to push aside the panic that comes with senior year. You have to worry about everything you never had to think about before: starting your career, paying all your bills, maybe moving to an unfamiliar city or away from your family. It’s no wonder we can’t relax and enjoy the ride, even though we know we’re nearing the end.

As someone who spends half their time worrying—and the other half worrying about worrying—I get it. I’ve been there, and there’s no doubt I’ll be there again in a matter of days. But there are things I do or tell myself to help me calm down, and maybe they’ll help you, too.

This is what you need to remember when you hit a fit of postgrad panic:

  1. No one has it all figured out. Sure, it may look that way on social media, but don’t you put up that front on Facebook, too? Even if someone has their postgrad plans set in stone, I guarantee they’re still worried about something. We’re all about to enter this big, scary new phase in our lives. It’s natural and totally okay to be a little freaked out.
  2. You don’t have to secure your dream job on your first try. I know it can be tempting to shoot for the moon, and I know how discouraging it is to get rejected. Your worth is not the equivalent of how fantastic your first job out of college is. Say that to yourself. Then say it again. Repeat it until you believe it.
  3. Networking is important, but don’t let it make you anxious. Start small and easy. Get in touch with your old bosses and coworkers, and try to make connections with people they know. Connect to your college’s alums. Use LinkedIn; it’s an amazing resource. Networking doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it as striking up a conversation. There is no harm in sending someone a friendly note once in a while, and you’re not weird for doing it.
  4. Don’t let anyone discourage you from trying. Maybe the position requires a certain number of years’ experience you don’t have, or skills you haven’t quite mastered. So what? You might have the talent to make up for the experience gap, and you can always learn new things. In the words of Coldplay, “If you never try, you never know.” And in the words of Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all time, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
  5. It will all work out. If you’re anything like me, I bet you’re yelling “NO, IT WON’T!” at your computer screen right now. But please, just trust me on this one. You have worked too hard for too long to not believe in yourself. And if there was ever a time for you to carry yourself with confidence and a can-do-it attitude, it’s now. So own what makes you special. Play up your strengths. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it—I know you can, and I hope you know that you can, too.

So the next time you find yourself hyperventilating, wondering how the hell you’re going to figure it all out, take a deep breath and remind yourself that everyone’s been here before. Now, it’s our turn.

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