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Graduation Anxiety: What it is and what you can do about it

If you have just graduated or are getting ready to graduate soon, you may be experiencing some anxiety surrounding this. Although graduation is a really positive time and a great accomplishment, it is also a time of transition. You have been in school for 17 years or more and have gotten used to the routine of school. Now, it’s time to leave that behind and you are unsure of what your future will look like. This will undoubtedly cause some anxiety and insecurity within you. If you already suffer from anxiety issues, this will just make your anxiety just that much worse. But there are things that you can do to help yourself during this time.

What Can Cause Graduation Anxiety

Graduation is in many ways, a rite of passage between being a child and adulthood. As a child, decisions were made for you by your parents, teachers, your school, and other adults. Now you’re thinking about all the decisions you must make and wondering if you’re up to the challenge.

Fear of failure can rear its ugly head at this time. You are moving from a period of relative stability to uncertainty, and this can cause anxiety. Pretty much everyone experiences this type of fear at some time in their lives. It can be paralyzing to worry about not living up to the expectations of yourself and others around you. Fear can also be brought on if you worry about being embarrassed, worry about bullying, or have trauma related to a past failure.

Transitioning to adulthood with adult responsibilities can also bring on a slew of fears and worries. Graduation brings on multiple changes including moving out on your own, finding a professional job, then fitting into the new work world, not to mention supporting yourself with all of the responsibilities that come with that.

There also tend to be multiple changes in relationships related to graduation that can cause anxiety. When school ends, your friends all scatter in different directions, making it difficult to maintain the same relationship and can bring up anxiety.

Strategies to Help Your Anxiety

So yes, graduation CAN be fairly anxiety-provoking, but there are things that you can do to help yourself cope better. Check out the list below for some ideas:

1. Stay connected. In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to stay in contact with people with all the options available. It will most likely take more effort now that you’re no longer rooming with your best friend, but staying in touch via texting, chats, or weekly dinners can help you to feel less isolated.

2. Try to take things 1 step at a time. You don’t have to accomplish all of your goals within months of graduation! Life is more of a marathon than a sprint, so take a deep breath and focus on one or two things, to begin with. It might be helpful to map out some goals you have for yourself and break them down into small steps to accomplish for the next month, 3 months, and year. This approach may help you to not become overwhelmed by focusing on multiple large goals at once.

3. Prepare yourself. When you were in school, you would prepare yourself for a big test or for a large project so as to help yourself get the results you wanted. Well, use this same strategy for your life goals as well. If you’re looking for a job, research how to write a resume, network, and do interviews. If you want to own a home, research mortgages, the real estate market, and the types of professionals available.

4. Set realistic expectations for yourself. You do not have to have your ideal job as your first job fresh out of school, and it’s OK not to. I think taking your first job to gain experience and learn valuable things about your chosen profession and/or company is a really good step to take on the way to your dream job.

5. Maintain balance in your life. This means finding or keeping activities outside of work that bring you happiness. If you don’t have any hobbies now, that’s ok too- just go out and experiment with different things until you find something that you find interesting or fulfilling or fun.

6. Find professional help. If now of the above is helping you to feel less anxious, finding and talking with a therapist can help you to sort through your priorities and find strategies that help you cope better

Closing Thoughts

So if you find yourself with graduation anxiety or just need someone to talk to about anxiety treatment in general, follow the link. I’d love to hear from you!


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