Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Graduating School

It’s again the time to apply for colleges while you’re just out of school. This stage in life always involves uncertainty and stress, and in addition COVID-19 has made it even more challenging for students. Here are some things I wish I knew before I got out of school-

It’s okay to not have everything figured out just yet

I’m sure you have heard all types of questions about your future- ranging from which college would you like to get into to what do you want to major in, from what type of career do you want after college to what’s your plan-B. If you know the answer to such questions then, congratulations you’re the lucky one. But It’s okay if you don’t know the answers to these right now. Most people don’t have their entire life figured out at age of 17/18. You’ll get there eventually. Try exploring one question at a time instead of stressing about all of these at once. Small steps, remember?

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone

This is probably one of the biggest things I had to learn after getting out of school. It’s so important that you learn to step out of your comfort zone while you’re in school. School offers you a very sheltered environment, but college doesn’t. You’ll have to make ways to achieve things you want and even go and extra mile for them. Inculcating this habit will benefit you in the long run. You surely don’t want to miss out on opportunities in college simply because you were afraid to take a risk.

You and your friends might grow apart

I was fortunate enough to experience my school friendships grow even stronger after leaving school. But this wan’t the case with most of the friend groups in my school batch. It is something that happens when you all jet off to different cities, when you meet new people who you connect with better or when you see that people who you were close to in school aren’t making as much effort to communicate as you are, which happens a lot. It’s highly unlikely for your entire friend group to end up in the same university or college after graduation or for them to make the same efforts they were making when you all were meeting each day. Either way, don’t be discouraged if you realise you’re not as close as you were in school.

ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s your pride or your fear holding you back, try and get over it. You don’t have to force yourself to struggle when you can ask the ones you trust for help. Whether it’s related to academics or your personal struggle adjusting to a new environment, reach out for help. Looking back you will wish you had asked for help when you had the chance to. This will make your life a lot more easier.

PRIORITIzE your health, physical and mental

Learn to prioritize your health and pay attention to what your body needs from you. Pulling all nighters day after day after day will destroy you and your focus. And No, you can’t survive the whole day at college on a diet of lays and coke forever. Don’t skip your meals. Your health is very important.

You don’t have to be the same person you were in high school

College is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. It’s the perfect time to unlearn concepts and opinions that you no longer agree with. It’s the perfect time to to better yourself educating yourself with issues that are revenant around you. University offers you an environment suitable to reinvent yourself, it offers you the space to give educated opinions and to find like minded people who you willingly want to interact with online school where you had to interact with your classmates only. If you were the brainiac that always had a secret passion for art, then join your college’s art club. If in school you were into sports but always appreciated and enjoyed debating, then join the debate club while participate in the sports activities of your choice. You don’t have to stay the same and that’s the beauty of it.

Why it’s okay to not be productive right now

Pandemic or not, your self worth is not proportional to your productivity

Like me, if social media has become your only out to boredom, you may have noticed conversations about the notions of ‘productivity’ rocketing. Whether it is your twitter mate updating you with their daily baking sessions or an Instagram friend showing off the pages and pages of work that they finished, or your family groups bombarding you with motivational posts about how to spend your free time, if you have any. There’s so much pressure right now to make the most of this ‘free’ time. It’s exhausting to even try to keep up. The rhetoric around productivity is so romanticised, glamorised and even glorified. However, every time I come across a reminder to be productive, I find myself thinking whether is it really a practical thing or can being productive everyday be a damaging to oneself?

As a university student doing her under graduation, the increase of workload, since the onset of Coronavirus in India, hasn’t gone unnoticed- being given a task after task, a deadline after deadline took a toll on all students. At the start of lockdown, I had internals, I was constantly pulling all nighters revising for the tests, completing assignments and keeping up with the daily workload of the online lessons. In this sense, it felt like nothing even while being locked up in our homes. There was always something that had to be submitted, something that needed to be revised or something that I needed to start working on. I was trying, as was everyone, but oftentimes, it felt like all the efforts amounted to nothing in the end. The workload didn’t end with the end of the semester, having to take-up internships in the middle of a pandemic caused immeasurable pressure and paranoia. My work plans are disrupted by distractions, I find myself unknowingly overextending and the balance between work & free time has become invisible. Not to mention the stress is unavoidable, and I constantly find myself waking up wishing for the day to end.

Is there anything that can be done?

Last year, if someone told us that we would be trapped inside our homes in a state of quarantine due to a deadly pandemic, we would have laughed it off. So, at the time our worst and unimaginable fears are coming true, being plunged into uncertainty does not mean that we have to function effectively alongside it. And therefore, being productive is no longer as important as it was before.

It is of utmost importance to acknowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to use this situation to hone their skills, try new hobbies, explore new passions or build something unforgettable. In the midst of rapid unemployment, losing your loved ones, anxiety caused by separation from friends and family, isolation and loneliness, bad mental health is inevitable- and that’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay needing to take time off. It’s okay to listen to your body. Don’t be mad at yourself for not being able to deal with the situation as efficiently as your friend or your parent or your Instagram mutual. Getting out of the bed at a reasonable time is a task enough. Not putting off taking care of yourself and your needs is a task enough. Keeping up with your friends and checking up on them is a task enough. Spending time with your family is a task enough. Doing these tasks is no where near the perfect productive day I imagined – and it won’t be for a long while. I was meant to be getting excited about interning opportunities and travelling more and capturing more. Now when everything has gone south, the task of prioritising yourself is a rebellious act.

How can we change this mindset?

If you’re anything like me, university and work mean that I can not entirely ignore all my responsibilities in favour of self-care. Prioritising what you have to do is a good start to make sure you can do what needs to be done. Practice different methods or working. For me, sitting at my desk for more than 7 hours, staring at the laptop screen is quite overwhelming, mentally exhausting and doesn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. Taking breaks to perhaps watch an episode from a show that I’m currently hooked to or to mindlessly scroll on twitter ensures that I feel the balance.

This unsettling environment can be taxing. Forgive yourself for making mistakes.