So, you’re a senior. You’re about to tackle one of the biggest life transitions you’ll ever face, and you’re probably scared out of your wits about it.

Your friends seem to have it all together – they’ve got a job or at least an offer or two. One is getting married soon. Another is taking some time to travel before she starts a job in September for $80,000 a year. But you? You haven’t spoken to someone you liked in a year, you haven’t found a job yet (let alone $80,000/year!), and you’re actually dreading May 21 because that signals the official end to your senior year.

You aren’t ready. You aren’t ready to get spit out of the environment you’ve been immersed in for four years into some strange world where you get mail every week, but the good mail is usually addressed to ‘Current Resident’ and the bad mail has your name on the envelope but also wants your money.

It is true, there is a full buffet of life getting thrown at you in the biggest food fight of your life, but grab a plate and focus. You’ve got this.

I’m a big fan of making lists. I make to do lists all the time, prioritized by urgency, or importance to my GPA, or really any other metric that makes sense at the time. So that’s one spot to start: Make lists. What isn’t going to change after you graduate? What are your daily habits now that you plan on keeping after graduation? Who are some people in your life who have successfully made the graduation transition? What activities will you revert to when the stress gets to be too much? Remember, you’ve done this transition before: there actually hasn’t been that much time since you left the comforts of high school.

Remember how you were so scared about that first roommate? Sure, for some of us that didn’t work out, but you figured it out! There was something special about stepping into the hallway that first night you moved in, once all the parents were gone, and meeting the other people whom you didn’t know yet but were sure to shape your college experience. Well, why would “real life” be any different? Sure, new people, new names and faces, but they all pull from a similar collective body of experience – family, ethics, culture – you’ve seen it all before.

Remember how you were sure the “Freshman 15” would be the end of you? For some of us it came, for some of us it didn’t, but in nobody’s experience was it a factor in friendships, classes, professional connections, or really anything else. Maybe you found a workout partner because of it! Maybe you found someone else to eat ice cream and watch movies with! Both are good things.

Let’s look at the definition of the word “alumni.” English gives this word the connotation of ending your current experience and starting a new one. However, Google and I dug through the origins of the word, and it actually means something quite different. The spirit of the word alumni is closer to “feeding” or “to nourish.” Thus, if you are becoming an alumna or alumnus (moving to past-tense), then you are someone who has been “nourished.”

Well, that’s not so scary. Think again back to your time on campus. Think of all the great Valpo professors who poured their time into you, nourishing your quest for education. They didn’t just do that because that was their job. They spent those extra hours on you because they believed in you. That belief is not something that just stops at graduation. They’ve put the knowledge in you, nourishing you in your journey, but they want to see you thrive. As you step forward into uncertain times, remember your relationships here: so many people have pushed you and believed in your vision for yourself. You’ve got this. Maybe make a list of those people who you can count on in the next stage of life. It would work for me.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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