FROM THE ARCHIVES: 4 Tips to Overcome Post-Grad Regret
We've published hundreds of stories from 100+ writers in the last three years, so we're highlighting some of these timeless posts in our new From the Archives series. Enjoy!
Just as you can imagine, college graduation season is packed with all the emotions. You feel relief, excitement, stress and pride. The emotion most people don’t associate with graduation and what I didn’t expect to feel, though, is regret.
You may regret not taking that psychology course or not studying abroad. You may regret not eating well or never exercising. You may regret joining only two campus organizations or wasting too much time on that guy or girl (who you now secretly hope dies alone).
No matter what your regrets are, the feeling is toxic. And yes, everything happens for a reason, your experiences make you who you are and there is a larger plan for your life. We have all heard these encouragements during our college years, but no one offers tangible methods for coping with post-grad regret.
So here’s four things that I did that I found helpful:
1. Log off of social media for one month. This forced me to stop comparing my college experience to that of my peers, and instead focus on what made my past four years uniquely wonderful. Reminder: your Facebook friends only post their best college moments and those cool Instagram photos have a filter. Social media can become a black hole of comparison followed by instant regret. Be careful out there.
2. Email a graduation announcement with a section for responses. I emailed a simple online card to thank people for the support over the past four years and didn’t realize how much I needed to hear their responses. Heartfelt praise and congratulations from bosses, mentors and family are a surefire way to feel better about not taking that psychology course. I can attest.
3. Write about it. When I say “write,” I actually mean, “Furiously pound your keyboard until you have a three page long Word document titled ‘venting.’” In college and in life, sometimes you make mistakes you immediately regret. Things happen and you learn from them, but you cannot allow yourself to linger. Instead, write about it and move on.
4. Ignore the millennial stereotype. Our generation has pressure to have perfect grades, take part in at least 10 student organizations, receive every award and then graduate from college with a jam-packed resume and a job waiting on you. A college student can only do so much before exploding from exhaustion. Ignore the pressure, stop focusing on what you didn’t do in college and instead celebrate your accomplishments.
You may have regrets, but you know what? You just graduated from college. You survived dorm rooms, crazy roommates, insanely hard exams, tedious projects and casual dating. That is a huge accomplishment and you deserve to be proud.
[This post was originally published May 13, 2015.]
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