My younger sister graduated from college with a degree in musical theatre last week and I cannot begin to describe how proud I am of her. Over the past four years, she has persevered with such dedication, positivity, hard work, and inner strength which will always serve as an inspiration to me.
She approached me with this written piece and I simply could not stop smiling as I read it. Its mixture of humor, sincerity, and enthusiasm is a perfect representation of my sister, and I am honored to post it on my blog. Not to mention, she’s given me that extra nudge of motivation to let go and just start writing again. She captures the essence of the feeling right after graduation: the “Now What?” many of us are all too familiar with.
Congratulations on your graduation, Little One. Embrace the freedom and excitement of life after college!
Guest post by my sister, Nicole, written on May 11th, 2016.
It is exactly three days after graduation (commence breathing into a bag now) and, for any other college graduate (first time I’ve said that, woah), this realization fills you with a large array of emotions. Let’s name off the top two, shall we?
One: Pure, absolute joy.
No more homework or begging at teachers’ feet for a better grade. No more of the pressure cooker environment that comes with being on a college campus (especially if any of you out there are on a small private campus where everyone knows everyone else’s business, high school 2.0). No more of that one guy you made out with at a party who will never stop texting you, or that one girl who pissed you off freshman year and just won’t get off your back. No more general education classes, or as I call them Pinterest and Buzzfeed hour. And, I repeat, NO MORE HOMEWORK!
Two: Holy shit.
Yes, that is an emotion. It’s shock, it’s terror, it’s feeling absolutely out of control and not knowing the answers to your questions. It’s your heart rising into your throat and you’re 90% sure that you will throw up. And, if you’re anything like me, feeling compete terror that your “plan” that you’ve had for your life is not ending up how you thought it would at all.
Which brings me to the heart of my message with writing this.
Call me absolutely nutty, but I am the queen of plans and lists. I’m that girl who has a calendar posted on my wall that is color coded to a T. Plus a list of “must do’s” right above it. As I’ve gotten to graduation, that “must do” list is growing… a lot. And with things I know I will not do, but in order to be “successful,” I have to do these things.
We all have our own personal definition of what success is. A mentor/teacher of mine told me that you can get to know a person instantly if you ask them what their individual definition of success is. I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. When it comes to success right out of college, there are always those people in the graduating class that have their dream job lined up after graduation; they are moving to their dream city, with their dream apartment, with a exquisitely behaved dog or rabbit or something cute. But my point is that there is always that person. And we all hate that person because that was our plan right out of college. We wanted that feeling of security and knowing that you are living your dream. And whether or not you actually have a job lined up after that fateful day in May, how do we plan for living out our dream?
First off, let’s talk about wishes.
Goals are crucial! It is not just thinking every once in awhile, “I am gonna make that happen someday in the future” and hope for the best. NO! You actually have to sit down and write out what you want and be specific with it. An acting teacher of mine always asks before we do a monologue, “What is your 100% win?” which translates into, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” Use your imagination! You have no limits on this question. This question can be a little scary, especially if you think really hard and your mind is coming up blank. Stop overthinking it, fear has no place in this. These goals can be as simple as, “I’ll have a large dog named Sparky.” Here’s the secret to these goals: if they make you smile, you’re doing it right!
The most important part of these goals is to make sure you write them in a positive notation. If at any time you have words like don’t, no, none, etc. stop dead in your tracks and rethink it. It will make your mind focus on the thing you don’t want. How can you change that bullet point into what you do want? That is what you want to write down.
I’m gonna throw some examples your way.
My goal for my life, as of right now, is in a drastic change period. If you had asked me five years ago my plan would have been, “I am an actor who, right out of college, moved straight to New York City with my best friends from college. I booked a national tour of a Broadway show and in between touring and living the thriving life of a New York City auditioner, I have a boyfriend who could very possibly be the one.” This is far from my reality right now.
My goals currently include: “I am an actor who is exploring all types of theatre from Shakespeare, directing, dancing, musical theatre, tours and improv in the city of Chicago. I am living with some of my dearest friends and we have a pet who makes us laugh constantly. We live in an apartment right near a small park where I walk by every single day, and fun spots for my friends and I to meet up (think Friends and Central Perk), and it just so happens to be right next to the Red Line into the city. I am living my life to the fullest and letting myself be happy as a human and establish myself in my new home city before I focus on throwing myself into my career.” Now this is just mine, but the point I am trying to make is that it is okay for your plan to change! You are not the same person you were when you walked onto campus your freshman year, just like you won’t be the same person a year or two after graduation.
I first set out to write this article about a month before graduation occurred, but much like the end of college tends to do, life just explodes in your face and your time is completely taken up by parties, spending every last second with your friends, studying because that’s right it’s still school, the actual graduation weekend itself, and saying goodbye to the stability of the last four years of your life. But in a way, I am glad that I was able to finish this two days after graduating… it gave me a chance to reflect and let this huge life change slowly sink in.
Even though I am sure it is going to continue hitting in waves, it’s crucial to remember one thing: no one has spontaneously combusted after graduating. Fear and unknown is our greatest gift right now. There is one huge, whole world out there for us to explore and it is now our job to go and make a lasting change on it.