Graduation blues

I am writing this the day before my graduation was originally happening so the phrase ‘graduation blues’ is all too real! The end of such a big season of life brings its challenges, but the necessary Covid-19 restrictions make it unsettling for those of us leaving uni.

The last few months have been packed with bittersweet emotions. The stress of finishing a degree during lockdown, the joy over what I’ve achieved, the discontentment over how my three years has ended. Along with my own thoughts, I’ve chatted with a few of my friends to see how they’re managing this big life transition. So from one emotionally confused graduate to another, here are three top tips in dealing with graduation blues.

1. Process

In the thick of the dissertation haze, focus was easy. But when I finished, an amazing three years came to a sudden end. I found comfort in processing with other graduates but more  than that – coming to God with all of my emotions. If we take a look at how the Psalmists process, we can follow their example in bringing all of our mess before God. Relationship with Him requires honest conversation. However, the heavy emotions can easily consume us, so it’s important to also lift our eyes above situations to a higher hope.

‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him’ (Psalm 28:7).

God’s character means, even in tricky circumstances, we have reason to choose joy and comfort. One wonderful friend said, ‘we live in the love of God and He provides us with incredible joy. I think we really step into that when we stop looking at earthly disturbances and struggles and instead focus our eyes on the things of heaven’. 

Feel the feelings, process them with God and actively choose the inexplicable joy and peace He has to offer.

2. Marking the end

With graduations postponed, it’s important to mark the end of your degree to give a little closure and start the transition process. Circumstances won’t change, but instead choose to recognise the achievement you’ve made. You could take a trip down memory lane of your years at uni and make a scrapbook or photo book. Perhaps you could write cards to people who have really shaped your university experience; maybe they made you feel welcome when you first moved there, made a big impact on your relationship with God or have been a really faithful friend. It forces you to recognise how God has shaped you and recognise the wonderful people you’ve been surrounded by. 

Whatever you do, find meaningful ways to celebrate. 

3. The future 

Most graduates two least favourite words, usually accompanied by the panic when someone asks you your plans! You may have a perfectly lined up year ahead or you may be at a loss as to what’s next. Yet the Bible is very clear that we have a God who keeps promises and has good plans for His children, ones to prosper and not to harm. In the midst of the job hunting and CV writing, take a minute to appreciate this life stage. 

I’ve been reflecting on how exciting this time of life is. 21, just graduated (minus the ceremony) and a whole load of options ahead of me. Although it can be daunting, there is so much possibility. There’s the opportunity to implement the things you’ve learnt in your degree and to embrace all the things that God has lined up. There’s a freedom now that isn’t always available. You’ll never get it back and although final year has been somewhat chaotic, there is so much excitement ahead. Another friend I asked said ‘have the mindset that it’s a new adventure and that what you do next isn’t the rest of your life being decided, just the next step’. 

So take some breaths, one step at a time and trust. I know that the graduation blues are hard, especially this year. But don’t let that define what’s next – feel the feelings, mark the moment and get pumped for what’s to come.

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