To the Girl About to Graduate College

Annabelle Gross

Annabelle Gross

Contributing Writer
Published: May 02, 2023
To the Girl About to Graduate College

I have no business comparing myself to anyone, and neither do you. Trust me, you don’t want to be like her. You want to be like Jesus.

It’s crazy how much a year can change a person. I know I’m preaching to the choir; you just went through four years of nothing but change. The bridge from high school to college is a short one, going from one school to another. Yes, this new school with a fancy name ending or beginning with the word “University” is bigger. Yes, you most likely live at this new school, without your parents for the first time perhaps. Yes, the classes are bigger, and the work is harder and more focused on what you actually want to do in life. However, it’s still school. There’s structure to your day where a teacher professes knowledge to you, and you listen (most of the time), there’s clubs and activities, and there’s no shortage of peers around to make friends with (or not, up to you!).

The bridge from college to adulthood is a lot different. It’s not a short one. Less of a leap and more of a bound. It’s steep and long. Believe me, I know because I walked over this bridge myself just a year ago. At this time last year, I was standing right where you were; in line to walk across a stage in front of my friends and family, and on the threshold of a different kind of life. 

I was reflecting on the last four years and marveling at the person I walked in as and the person I was walking out as. When I entered, I knew nothing about how to be responsible for my own business, choices, finances, and future. I was 18 and nervous. Somehow, four years flew by in a second, and one day, I was a little more comfortable with some of these realities. It didn’t stop me at all from being mind blown that I was in my last cap and gown I would ever wear and leaving the last school I would ever attend. 

I don’t know what your specific situation is, of course, and I don’t know exactly how you’re feeling as you graduate, but I’m guessing it’s the perfect cocktail of excitement, anticipation, melancholy, and nerves. I’m now on the other side of those same lasts you’re going through and looking back on this last year. And as I said, it sure is crazy how much a year can change a person. No matter where you’re going from this day on, I have some advice for you.

You Did It!

Well, the first thing in order is a congratulations! Wow! You did it! What a HUGE accomplishment! The past few years of hard work, resilience, and stepping up when the going got tough was all worth it! Here you are on the other end with a diploma and a whole slew of life lessons under your belt.

The good and the bad have led you to where you are and the person you are today. Take a moment and think about all of those things. Seriously, close your eyes and think about your highest highs, the bests. Now take a moment and think about your lowest lows, the worsts. Think about the people who were by your side, the things you learned, the experiences you had. Four years of your life! Remember all of it. I know that’s a big ask, but I mean it. Write it down if you have to. You’ll want to remember it and be grateful for it.

Embrace Uncertainty

The unknown is scary, and I have always hated uncertainty. I crave stability and a good plan, but unfortunately for me, that is not how life works out. That old saying holds true, “You make your plans, and you hear God laughing.” What I’ve come to learn about that statement is not that there is no plan, just that there is God’s plan for your life, and you have to trust that He is guiding you down the path you were meant to walk. He’s counting on your faith, and you should too.

What I was most surprised to learn about adulthood is truly how much freedom you have. When you go to college, you get your first true taste of independence, but that’s nothing compared to what adulthood has in store. No one talks enough about the weird parts of that adjustment period. Your time is yours! It’s also your job to fill it. But how does one make friends or find community in a city you’ve just moved to all alone? How do I set boundaries with my parents if I need to live at home for another few years? How do I figure out which internet provider to choose? What do I do if I still don’t know what I want to do with my life? 

As a brand-new full adult, you’re dumped into a tank of people who are all in different stages of their lives. I’m here to let you in on a not-so-secret that I have found immense comfort in: no one knows exactly what they’re doing at all times. No. One. NO ONE! Ha! And I promise you, they certainly did not when they were in your position too. Just the same as in the new job you may or may not be starting soon, your boss doesn’t expect you to be an expert in your field on your first day. In life, no one expects you to know everything the second you leave college!

You will likely be pushed in ways you weren’t expecting, but how else would you grow if you just kept on doing the same things you’ve always done? You’re going to encounter a great deal of questions, and not all of them have answers! This is exactly what faith is all about. Your trust in God should not be affected by how many things go your way. Trust me, you’ll get your feet under you, and luckily for you, God is holding your hand through it all.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Philippians 4:6-7

Comparison Is the Thief of Everything

Joy, peace, sanity; comparison will steal all of this away from you and more. It eats you up like a plague if you let it. There’s nothing quite like hearing the ticking of a clock as time passes and you begin to feel like you’re behind. It’s easy to fall into this trap.

I find myself scrolling Instagram or even walking around, seeing women who look so much more put together than I feel. At least, that’s what they look like. Like I said earlier, no one on this earth knows what they’re doing. I’ve caught myself so many times comparing myself to others, using them as a benchmark for my own success.

“Wow, she’s so high up in the company, and she has an answer for everything!”

“She has a husband and kids, a beautiful house, a dog and a cat, and they go on weekend trips to the lake house! Why don’t I have that?”

“She always seems to be out doing something fun! Do I need to be doing that?”

The answer is that she’s higher up because you’re in your first year as a young professional, and she is in her eighth! The answer is that she’s in her thirties, and you are in your early twenties! The answer is that she is also on her couch some nights; you just don’t get to see that on her feed! Please don’t be so hard on yourself as you enter into the world after college. 

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Corinthians 10:12

Whether you have a job or not, whether you have a relationship or not, you can’t look to other people to see how you’re doing. You have no idea what they went through or are going through. Life isn’t a highlight reel, and you’re likely only seeing just that, the highs. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! You were made with purpose.

I have no business comparing myself to anyone, and neither do you. Trust me, you don’t want to be like her. You want to be like Jesus.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

Go to Church

Go to church! And if you haven’t gone in a while, go back! I promise you’ll be glad you did. For those of you who are like I was and you’re looking for a community and a group of people to count on, church is a good place to start.

There are so many opportunities to meet people your age, whether it’s a young adult group or a Bible study, or even hanging around after the service to chat with new people. Again, it may be pushing you outside your comfort zone, but hey, no one’s going to do it for you. Take that leap, be bold!

If you don’t find your people immediately, don’t give up. Most times in life, it takes more than one try. I’ve visited multiple churches at a few points in my life. Find the one that fits you the best, where you feel the most at home, because aside from the people in the pews, you go to seek the Lord.

The most important part of church is that it grounds you. Whenever this new life that you’re beginning gets overwhelming, and you feel like you need a constant in this time of adjustment, turn to God. As I said earlier, remember all that you’ve been through in the last four years. And here you are in all of your glory, triumphantly donning the title of college graduate. Surely, if God was able to walk you through these past four years, don’t you think He’ll be able to handle the next four? I think you two have got this.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Andre Hunter

Annabelle Gross is a writer with a passion for the written word and the Word. She is a recent graduate of Grove City College where she earned a bachelors degree in English with a minor in Marketing. She lives in Cleveland and when she isnt writing her latest novel, you can find her spending time with family and friends, sailing on Lake Erie, or visiting new and exciting places.