The feeling of being a college graduate - What comes next?

June 15th, 2018 was a very special day for me. I finished another chapter in my life, my biggest to date. I graduated from the University of California, Irvine with an Undergraduate degree in Political Science.

This process or rather journey society calls college has given me five unforgettable years. The road was not perfect. I faced many uphill battles, defeats, and failures during my collegiate tenure at UCI. But I eventually made it.

The experience college has granted and blessed me is incomprehensible. It has given me so much joy, satisfaction, grief, despair, and humility. I went places, met some amazing people that I crossed paths with, and solidified friendships that will last a lifetime.

Most importantly college brought my family together during times of separation and displeasure. It emboldened me to appreciate the moments I have with my parents. The very people who supported me when even I was in doubt.

It may sound cliché to say that college is this young or old adult awakening. A test of your own will, decisions, thought process, and goals. But what college truly represents is this chase for self-prestige.

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I will never forget an Uber trip while traveling to Union Station. I was picked up by this driver Eddie. He asked where I was headed, I told him I was going to take my last college final at UCI ending my 2-year commute. He turned around as we waited for the light and said,” You commute that far on a train?”

Immediately I thought he was going to give the typical response I get, “But why?” Instead he nodded giving me a fist bump. He said, “Believe me I know how it feels and people do not understand why we do it.”

Turns out, Eddie was a Graduate student at UCLA studying Bioengineering. He lives in Glendora and has a fulltime job on top of Ubering. I was amazed and intimidated telling him my part-time work schedule, commute time, and studies come nowhere near his.

He told me it is not about who has more responsibilities or obstacles. It is about sacrificing anything and everything to achieve that “something.” That’ really is the whole point of college, to find “something” that will be your calling, career, or purpose. But a degree does not guarantee us anything. We both agreed, a degree just opens the door to a “something.”

As I got out Eddie’s car, I thanked him for the conversation. Before I could open the app to give him five stars I noticed my ride was cancelled mid way. The gesture Eddie gave me was an acknowledgement to understanding that that “something” is worth going to extreme measures. I will never forget that.

As a graduate, you feel bewildered with a ton of emotions. The biggest is this sense of relief coupled with the scary thought of what now. Even if you don’t know what your “something” is yet, you will eventually find it. It’s a mission and act two of college.

You see being a graduate is a momentous milestone that like most things in life, become a distant memory. All you have for yourself is this self-appreciation for this self-accomplished prestige. Nobody can take that away from you.

Reflecting on my newly accomplished status makes me relish all the unknown variables in my life. The uncertainty of what I want my career to be will soon take shape. We all have a pace. Some know right off the gate what, who, and where they will be in life. For others it takes time.

For me, the next chapter of my life is making that “something” my own. I want to grow more as an individual. Become the best version of myself. Fail more to fully take control of my life and venture deep into my dreams. After reading all this, you now have a closer idea of what my “something” is. Who knows, maybe you will be along for the ride.