Chasity’s Post-Grad Depression (Shame Pt. II)
Everyone, but me, was focused on the “big day.” I was terrified of graduating because I knew that I’d be graduating on a Saturday with no idea what I would do on the Monday afterwards. I’ve been in school since the age of 3. All of my summers were structured in preparation for the falls, springs, and winters that would be spent in a classroom of some sort. No one prepared me for life after graduation. No one prepared me for the overnight transfer of power that gave me free reigns, and the expectation, to create my own structure and define what productivity meant to me. To their credit, I’m not sure anyone could because I needed to feel every bit of this process. I know that, now. I went through a series of emotions-alone, ashamed, terrified, anxious, and pitiful because everyone around me was so proud of the degree but I had no productivity to prove that the degree was worth getting. I had no sure answer for “What are you doing now?” or “What’s next?“ However, I am now beginning to feel the excitement I probably should have felt in May because things are just now coming together. By no means am I trying to stress that 3 months is a long time, but it can surely feel like it when you are a person who has relied on the definitive nature of routine without the need to ever deviate. During these past few months, I have had to build a system of trust within myself in order to carry on day by day. I’ve had to truly step into the space of surrender and design in order give my mind a rest and my body some ease.
Law school was the goal and I executed it exactly how I said I would. I was relentless with that dream, and it wasn’t until I conquered it that I realized life is a series of dreams. Once you attain one, create another. That is the work. That is the journey. Life is all about dreaming and moving accordingly to make room for and execute that dream. Once I began shifting my focus by asking myself “What would you like to do next, Chasity?”, life slowly became clearer and grounding. I’m not 100%. I am still working to restore my mind and body after these last few months of stress and worry, but I got the win I needed to affirm me in the work that I’ve chosen for myself.
If I had to share any advice, I would say zoom out and create a broad picture of your life. Take a break from the phone/social media (aka the comparison/competition source) and truly take the time to design your life on a macro level (write down your ultimate goal and create the roadmap). Do the research and studying to determine the steps you’d like to take to get there and use each day to step closer. By no means am I suggesting that the plan will unfold exactly how you imagine, but you’d be surprised how the world will match or exceed your expectations when you put effort into your dreams. I would also say that patience and rest are underrated steps. Looking back, I did not do a good enough job at taking advantage of my ability to rest right after graduation because I allowed my ego to convince me that not working was a disgrace. Allow yourself space and time to come down from the hard work you’ve poured into your degree so that you can be fully present when it is time to design your life.
Remember, life is forever flowing but it is up to you to join the ride. It is okay to not know. Not knowing is the space where the best ideas come from…have fun with not knowing and begin putting pen to pad. I wrote so many ideas, goals, and dreams until one day I realized they were all connected just waiting for me to order my steps so I could tackle them. Goals are more likely to seem impossible if you keep them in your mind. There is clarity in writing them down and seeing the words. They become real. They become tangible, and you are more likely to take steps to figuring out your best way of accomplishing them.
Lastly, practice gratitude. Gratitude has kept me going. Though this has become a cliché, it is true that where you are right now is the place you used to pray about. Smell the roses of your hard work. Post-grad depression happens AFTER the degree is secured. Pat yourself on the back for making it on the other side. Though society will have us believe that graduating college or any professional program is as regular as carrying all of the groceries in the house in one trip, it is not. None of our journeys are the same, and each of us deserve to be celebrated. It all starts with you.
For comfort, I suggest reading The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer and The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer.
Be well. I love you