I am opening the next chapter of my life and I have never been more excited. Four years of Cornell University done. Four years of Ithaca done. Goodbye past and hello to my present future. I am no longer a college student, I am finally GROWN grown. What does this grown grown woman want to talk about? Well, I want to depart some somewhat newfound wisdom on entering a new stage of adulthood. I also want to ask y'all some questions, some personal questions. Let's get into it.
I can confidently say I was not afraid of ending my chapter on being a university student. I did not have a life crisis of wondering who I am without school. In fact, I'm kind of mean so I spent time joking about those college students (I used the terms nerd or geek or dork - sorry about that) whose primary identity and personality trait was being a student. I'm talking about those kids who never shut up about school. Who are always on Twitter and in groupmes talking about school and campus-adjacent things. We all know at least one person who peaked in high school, and I now know there are lots of people who peak in college too.
Aside from all of my jokes about these kinds of people, I can empathize. We spent sixteen plus years in academia, being a student. But it's time for the next life chapter whether you believe it or not. This chapter and its transition can be exciting, daunting, thrilling, and many more. Regardless of the feeling, there are things we have to do, or at least should do, to prepare for it. These are just suggestions and things I've done or plan to do (I must practice what I preach).
For starters, I want to spend some time thinking about who I am and what that means. Of course, advice like that sounds so deep and corny, but it's really not too bad. I feel like it's essential for anyone who actually wants to make their next chapter as fulfilling as possible. How do you answer that? Let me try and help. Remember, everything here is in the context of transitioning to a new chapter.
How do I know who I am? Questions to ask yourself to answer that:
What are some ways that I could describe myself, WITHOUT using my name, job title, relationship status, culture, things I did, and my friends? (Question a friend sent me on IG)
What actions or topics or interests make me light up?
What are some things that make me uneasy?
What advice would I give myself a year ago?
Earlier this year on my birthday, I wrote myself a letter to the future me to read on my next birthday. I think it'll be interesting to read to see how much (or little) I changed in the span of a year.
Now the second essential part for the next chapter is outgrowing the past and leaving behind anything that didn't fully serve you. You can't move forward while holding onto the past. That means letting go of people who did you dirty or didn't fulfill you. This is one I truly experienced. Do not drag out friendships that feel one-sided, or relationships that were held on by two threads. Think about it this way, what if you're missing out on meeting new and exciting people because you're stuck on what's not meant to be.
There are also stages and perspectives you should release. Get rid of whatever version of you was holding yourself back. Maybe you were insecure about something or held a negative mindset about the world, or anything. This is a fresh chapter, name it what you want! Call it faking it till you make it, or believing it till you see it, or manifesting, just claim your new reality.
How do I let go of the past or know what to let go of? Questions to ask yourself to answer that:
What are some of the events in this last chapter that made me upset or hurt me?
Who let me down? How many times did they let you down?
What are some habits that I know are bad?
If I had to make a list of 10 things I was looking forward to, what would that be?
If I had (emphasis on had) to make a list of 10 things or people or habits to let go what would it be?
I'm going to end with a very popular Bible verse that I like to think about in this transitionary stage of wondering what my next steps should be. Even if you're not religious, there is a lot of wisdom in this thought process.
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future - Jeremiah 29:11
Make and stick to plans that prosper you and give you hope and a future. Whatever and whoever brings harm is not meant to be a part of that plan. You don't need to have a detailed plan all figured out but you should, at the minimum, give yourself a light to look forward to and to release yourself from anything that could hold you back. You should set yourself up for success as you move onto a new chapter.