On Saturday, May 22 I walked across the stage at Canisius College’s Undergraduate Graduation Ceremony to receive my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, German and European Studies. Now, I am officially a college graduate and moved back home to Cleveland.

Now, I enjoyed every second at Canisius, well almost every second and like many college grads, I can’t help but feel a little bit lost and overwhelmed with the thought that my studies are over and that I may never see some of my friends again. While I feel ready for life after college, I can’t help but feel a little sentimental. I won’t lie to you. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to walk across that stage on Saturday, I wanted to stay just a little longer. This is a position I’d been in a few times before, wanting to hold onto that moment and stop time, but not being able too.

High School Graduation

I had the time of my life in high school. I had awesome friends, was involved in great extracurriculars and really just had a blast in those four years. When I graduated, I was not looking forward to college. To be honest, I really wasn’t all that excited about going to Canisius. I was convinced I wouldn’t make any friends and couldn’t wait for my first break so I could go home and hang out with my high school friends. Boy was I wrong. I wasn’t there for an hour before I made a handful of new friends and realized it wouldn’t be so bad. I embraced the new and moved on.

Coming Home from Study Abroad

The next time I felt lost and unsure about the future was when I had to head home from my study abroad semester in Dortmund, Germany in 2008. My last few days in Germany I sulked around hating every minute that ticked by knowing I’d eventually have to board the plane back home. And then I arrived home and felt completely lost. No one understood what I had been through. After a week of being at home, I would mention Germany and someone would say “We’ve already heard that story” or “Steph, you’re not in Germany anymore.” And this was all before I even went back to school. Readjusting was the hardest thing I ever had to do, however after a few weeks I was back in the swing of things and loving it. I continue to keep in touch through Facebook and e-mail with my friends from abroad and have been lucky enough to see some of them again.

In both of these instances, I didn’t want to move on. I wanted to hit pause and stay in those places forever, but I couldn’t do that. I had no choice but to suck it up and take the next thing life threw at me and I am all the better for it. I could have sat at my computer my entire freshman year and only talk to my friends from home, but I didn’t. I put myself out there, met new people and had a blast doing it. And when I came back from Germany I could have done the same thing, but I readjusted back to American life, found new things to do and moved on. Do I still keep in contact with friends from high school and study abroad, of course – but I don’t dwell on it.

I’m sure there’s a number of recent college grads out there grappling with this feeling, but know that it will get better. Embrace the future, but don’t dwell on the past.

So What’s Next for Me?

Well, I’m currently back home in Cleveland and I plan on making the most of my summer, setting up informational interviews with professionals in the area and traveling to those cities where I would like to relocate to for the same reasons.

To all the 2010 grads out there, just remember that it will all work out. We will make it to the next step and end up where we are supposed to be! Congratulations to all – We did it!

To all the former graduates – what advice do you have for new grads as they try to adjust to the realization of what comes next? I’d love your input!