It’s been one year (and some odd days) since I graduated college, but it can still be difficult to realize how much time has gone by. Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever since I sat in a college classroom and other times it feels like it hasn’t been that long at all. This past weekend I attended my alma mater’s graduation, and it was surreal watching my friends—or anyone for that matter—walk across the same stage I did the year prior. I had attended the graduation ceremony every year I was a student at the university, including the three before my own, but sitting in the audience again felt strange because this time I was on the completely other side—and it felt very strange for numerous reasons. It felt refreshing to think that I had already jumped the first hurdle into the “real world” and that I had already experienced the initial confusion of “what do you do next?” At the same time, it felt a bit frightening because I feel like I’m nowhere closer to answering that question and I feel like hardly anything has really changed in the past year.
Despite already having a job lined up when I graduated, I still didn’t have a clue what I really wanted to do after college; it’s a new and incredibly confusing time in your life because you’re not quite sure what’s happening because everything changed in an instant. You no longer know how to introduce because the old answer—year, major, town, possibly club—is no longer suitable. You feel grown up because you’ve said goodbye to your comfort zone and you’re on top of the world after completing such a significant milestone … yet you feel so small because the world is so big. It makes you wonder how you can possibly find a path or place in it. We all experience this in varying degrees, but it can still feel like you’re the only one in the world who doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing with their life. The thing is, we all know that we’re not only the ones who feel overwhelmed and that it’s crazy to think so. That’s the catch: we know it’s crazy, but that doesn’t mean we can just stop feeling the way we feel; even if you continue to get more education or start working, it can be difficult to picture what to do long-term.
For so long, we had the comfort of school and more school … and probably even more school. When you finish undergrad, the real world starts to seem more tangible because your next step sets the foundation for so much of what’s to come in your future that it can be mind boggling. I know I’m not the only one who’s gotten lost in the sensation of simply feeling lost after finishing undergrad, and it’s difficult to hang onto those dreams no matter how old or fresh our dreams might be. I’m here to tell you something that I’m finally starting to grasp: don’t stop dreaming. Cling to your dreams, especially the cheesy daydreams that might seem absurd or small or too big. It can be so easy to get lost in the chaos, fear, and confusion of the “real world” after you graduate, so why lose one of the only bits of good left from our youth that is found in those dreams? It’s not foolish to dream often, even as adults. As easy as it can be to feel confused and even scared, it can often blind us from bigger—and even better—things. Reflecting on these feelings makes me think of a favorite film of mine and one of its most powerful quotes:
“Let me tell you something kid: Everybody gets one chance to do something great. Most people never take the chance—either because they’re too scared, or they don’t recognize it when it spits on their shoes.”
Don’t second guess your dreams because it could very well lead to something just as great. Sometimes those chances—especially some of the greatest ones—that “The Babe” mentions in The Sandlot won’t come clearly in packages with plain wrapping paper; sometimes those dreams, even the wildest ones, can lead to the best opportunities. It can be so easy to get lost in the fear of what you’re going to do next or what sort of job/career you will have; all of the thoughts of the future can be tough and burdensome. Now don’t get me wrong—having a job or establishing a career that sustains you (and maybe even a family) is very important, but there’s much more to all of this than that. If you take anything away from this post, remember this: never lose your childlike fascination with dreaming.