Graduation Dance

Graduating from a school, college, or program is supposed to be one of those “happy” events we celebrate, falling in the same category of major life transitions as weddings and births. You are moving from one place to another, from one status to another, from one degree to another. And that’s a good thing, and can be a very happy event.!

But transitions are stressful because by definition they imply major life change. And major life changes require major adjustments, which is where the stress comes from. If you’re leaving middle school for high school, high school for college or work, college for graduate school, or looking for work…you are moving into uncharted territory.  Uncharted, at least, for you. It wouldn’t be abnormal at all if you had a strong desire to stay right where you are forever.

Follow the Trail

Here’s one very important thing for you to remember: this is actually not uncharted territory!  Others have gone before you and not only survived but left the proverbial trail of bread crumbs for you to follow. You do not have to figure out how to do well in high school, college, medical school, graduate school, or “the real world” all by yourself. There are books, websites, blogs, and forums to help you to learn about and excel in any new arena you enter.

All you have to do is seek them out. And a secret: Most people who have made it to the next step are really happy to help you get there, too. Just ask!

Forge Your Own Path

In addition to making use of all of the accumulated wisdom of people who have gone through these transitions before you, it’s important that you forge your own path. So maybe you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but maybe you can invent a more efficient one or a more beautiful one. That’s going to be your contribution to the world and it’s very, very important.

Trust your gut, follow your instincts, and don’t be afraid to veer away from the pack when you have an idea you feel you must see through.

It’s All Yours, Kid!

Let yourself feel all the happiness of having made it through, all the joy and pride of achievement that goes with graduation, and being able to define yourself as having completed something important. Let yourself also feel the sadness of endings, the uncertainty of new beginnings, and the excitement about what lies ahead that you cannot predict. It’s all yours, kid!  You’ve earned it.


DrAnita Sanz, PhD, Psychologist

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