A Letter on Transition for College Graduates

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    I remember graduating from college and people would ask me (with sympathy in their eyes), “how are you holding up with this transition?” The reality is, transition is challenging for most people because it requires something uncomfortable… change. In this season of life you might be embarking on the biggest transition so far – graduating college. Leaving what you know to a new place can feel scary, lonely, and thrilling. Transition is often associated with feelings of dread and fear. We’re all human, and change, no matter what the form, is hard and takes time. As a twenty-something who has gone through multiple transitions over the years, from college, to grad school, to #adulting, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way about navigating transitions.

    1. Allow yourself to transition. Whether it’s for 2 months, 1 year, or longer– give yourself the grace to accept that it’s going to be challenging. You’re going to experience a rollercoaster of emotions, and that’s ok. Some days are going to be really hard and you might feel like the transition is taking FOREVER. Other days, you’ll feel like you can breathe and see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can be a very impatient person sometimes, especially when the waiting season feels painful. I typically want to fast forward through ANY type of change in my life and get to the other side. I have learned, however, there is so much beauty in the midst of change. Give yourself permission for some days to be hard, some days to be bliss, and to feel every emotion in between. Do not fast-forward. Lean into what God has for you in this season, and know this season will end. He promises to be with you every step of the way. “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8, NLT)
    2. Find a routine and stick to it. College life has minimal routines ingrained for students. Your schedule revolved around a changing class schedule, social gatherings, and part-time jobs. You pulled all-nighters and caught up on sleep with any spare moment possible. As graduates, a solid routine might be foreign to you. Maybe you pride yourself for being a spontaneous person who flies by the seat of his pants, or maybe you are a planner who has every minute planned out for your day. No matter what your style is, implement some healthy rhythms into your life. They create familiarity in the midst of a new season, and sometimes those rhythms will bring you relief during a hard day. 
      1. Here are a few rhythms that I find help to anchor me in the midst of transition:
        • Journaling. I try to do this every morning, coffee in hand. Processing my transition on paper helps me to release emotion and process. I find writing to feel therapeutic. Sometimes I don’t even know what to write, so I just write down what I’m feeling thankful for that particular morning. Beginning my day feeling centered with how I feel and thanking God for the good gifts from above helps me to begin my day feeling thankful. I suggest finding a way to process your experience – whether through painting, writing, talking, or listening, find a way to lean in and pay attention to the process of transition.
        • Exercise. Even on my hardest days, I get myself to the gym because, as the saying goes: ENDORPHINS ARE REAL. After a good sweat session on the bike, even on my worst days, I leave the gym feeling more uplifted, accomplished, and relieved. Find what works best for you and stick with it. I promise you’ll feel better after.
        • Intentional conversations with people. I am a people person. I am *not* well when I go days without having interactions with people who know me. When I moved to a new city on my own, I scheduled weekly FaceTime dates with my friends from back home. WOW did those FaceTime dates save me. Obviously this takes effort from your friends, too, but find friends who are willing to be committed to catch up with you. Those hour-long FaceTime dates helped me feel known in a season where I didn’t have many people in my local community who knew me well. Once you get to know people in your new city, schedule regular coffee dates, lunch dates, wine nights, exercise, etc. We all long to be seen and known. We all need people. Consistency and events to look forward to with people are very helpful in seasons of transition where loneliness can creep in. 
    3. Invite God into the transition. Friend, you are going to grow so much in your transition. And God has brought you to this very transition for a reason. He can’t wait to teach you more about who He is, teach you more about yourself and how brave you are, and reveal His beautiful plans for your life. Some days (speaking from personal experience) you will shake your fists at God and say HURRY UP! Let’s get this transition over with! I’m done! Hang. In. There. Find God in the little moments of your day. Even when He feels far, I promise He is so near. Please do not go through this transition without Him because He has so much to offer you in this season. You won’t want to miss it.

    I’m no expert on transition, but these 3 tidbits are lessons learned the hard way. Transitions are not easy, they’re uncomfortable, and they last a little too long. You will come out of this transition refined, molded, and stronger. I can promise you’ll look back on the season with a smile on your face because you made it through.

    Lauren Carter

    I've been there - feeling overwhelmed and stuck in my own career path. That's why I love helping people define and chase their career goals. Before Career Coach Indy, I worked for Purdue University where I coached students/alumni, and helped recruiters with their hiring needs. I've worked with individuals from all backgrounds and in various seasons of life.