It’s really pretty astounding how much of a young person’s identity and purpose is wrapped up in being a student. You begin going to school at the young age of 4 or 5, right around the time you start forming long-term memories, and (if you go to college) it isn’t until you’re well into early adulthood that you’re dismissed from the education system. The structure of your life – what you do and even who you are, as far back as you can remember, has been defined by school.
And then you graduate and suddenly it’s not.
This transition was really jarring for me, as I imagine it was for most of my peers. Suddenly I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t have my class schedule to keep me in check, so I slept at odd hours. The friends I used to spend everyday with had moved away from me, so my social life became non-existent. Along with losing my status as a university student, I lost all the perks that came along with it: membership to the school’s gym, access to library resources, a valid student ID to let me into places on campus. I didn’t know how to spend my time. I missed college. I was a mess.
But like most things, eventually you get used to it. I forced myself into a healthy and sustainable routine again and gave myself a chance to explore what I could do with this newfound free time. (I even adopted a dog!) From what I gather from my old college peers, they’ve settled down and they’re doing okay too.
As far as I’ve seen, this experience, although common, isn’t something that’s recognized in such explicit terms. I think students could really benefit from some counseling or resources (or even just a fucking heads up??) given to them shortly before graduating.