6 Emotions You Feel When You Graduate College

Princeton Graduation Ceremonies 2013

You’re about to graduate college. You’ve finished your last final ever. You’ve packed most of your bags. You’ve sold your futons and donated clothing you didn’t need anymore. You’ve played in your final game. You’ve confirmed that you passed all classes (whew!). You’ve partied your last night out. You’ve eaten your final meal.

And then, just like that, it’s graduation day. A lot of thoughts are running through your mind, a lot of emotions are waiting to be released. But you’re so caught up in that glorious moment when you’re handed that monumental piece of paper that only then does it all hit you. You can’t help but be emotional in some way, shape, or form, and for me I felt these 6 emotions:

1. Disbelief – Woah, wait a second there, where did all the time go? I thought high school went by fast, but college went by faster. We hear “time flies” all the time, but that phrase is reality. Time really does fly. I still remember all my firsts from freshman year: my first lecture, my first practice, my first dining hall meal, my first night out, my first meeting with my roommates. It’s hard to believe that 4 years went by so quickly.

2. Relief – All those nerve-wracking exams, all those long and stressful nights, all those readings half-completed. The dreaded thesis. We’ve all had our fair share of stressful nights of unbearable workload. It’s part of the process. But when you graduate, you realize that you’re done with all of that. No more problem sets, no more papers, and no more schoolwork altogether. It’s a bit weird; you’ve spent so many years accustomed to assignments and finishing them last-minute and taking exam after exam. But it’s a great feeling, no doubt.

3. Pride – No more schoolwork! Hooray, hooray, hooray! But then you realize, “Hey, I did all of that and succeeded.” It’s an amazing accomplishment to make it through college and to graduate. At times you’ve been challenged to the max, stressed out of your mind, and left wondering if you can really do it. Graduating is a true testament to your dedication, work ethic, and perseverance. No matter where you go to college, crossing the finish line is a tremendous accomplishment.

4. Sadness – As I’ve mentioned before in The Beginning of the Best Four Years of Your Life, the people I met and friends I made were the biggest highlights of my college career. I met so many incredible people from all over, all with a different background and story to tell. I made the greatest friends one could ever ask for. And that’s why saying our final goodbyes was so tough. As I’m sure all of you feel, saying goodbye is never easy, especially to your friends who’ve been by your side 100% and made it through the same 4-year journey with you.

5. Panic – Just like that, there’s no more school. You’re on your own now and you’re entering a brand new chapter of your life. You can feel as ready as you want, but it’s a fact that you’ve had zero experience in the real world before graduation. So, a little bit of panic sets in. “Am I really ready to make it in the real world? Do I really want to be on my own for good now?” Those sorts of questions creep into your head as you realize that it’s your turn to make your mark in the world.

6. Excitement – There’s something about post-grad life that is invigorating, to say. It’s mysterious, for sure, but that’s what makes it so exciting. You’re proud of how far you’ve come so far, but there’s an entirely new life awaiting your entrance. Whether or not you have a job lined up, you can’t help but feel excited for the future. What’s going to happen next? Where will life take me now? When will my first of many crazy adventures occur?

Graduating brings out so many different emotions, and it’s another milestone in your life. Be proud of it, don’t forget to cherish the incredible moments you’ve experienced, and get excited for the real world. It’s the beginning of a new era.

What sorts of emotions did you feel when you graduated? 

Cheers, and happy Friday!


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