life beyond the well…

Graduation Reflections and What I Wish I’d Known, Part 2


Today marks two years since I sat in Kenan Stadium with some of my best friends and turned my tassel, becoming a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Three days ago, I became a graduate again; this time from the University of Georgia where I earned my Masters degree in Social Science Education.

As I sat in Stegeman Coliseum, I became slightly overwhelmed. I had been feeling the pressure of graduating for a while. Perhaps, moreso the anxiety, as my family and friends would question me about where I was going to work and live post May 12. However, as I sat there, partially in disbelief that this was really happening to me, I also felt a wave of emotion. Being so completely grateful to God for such an enormous blessing, feeling pride in knowing how proud my grandmother would be if she could have been there, feeling extremely blessed to be surrounded by so many people that have loved and supported me unconditionally over the years. This was all compounded by the graduation address of Ms. Mary Frances Early, the first African-American to graduate from the University of Georgia in 1962 with her Masters degree in Music Education. She gave a brief, but meaningful expression of her time at UGA; which was most definitely the icing on the cake.

This weekend was beautiful to me, not because of my accomplishment (which I am very proud of), but because it was yet another way that I was reminded of all the ways that God cares for us and blesses us. While I am generally aware of God’s blessings and handiwork in even the smallest of situations, I felt that I experienced a small dose of the magnitude of love that God has for me via friends and family. So amazing…

This weekend is also significant because many of my dear friends turned their tassels this weekend, as a part of UNC’s Class of 2007. I’m so excited for them as they venture into the world to make their dreams come true. Last year I wrote a list of “What I’d Wish I’d Known Before I’d Graduated”, and now I’ll do a part two. Enjoy:

What I’d Wish I’d Known Before I’d Graduated, Part Two:

1. You Must Live for Yourself

Part of the experience of being in college is learning what you like and what you don’t like. This can include a wide range of things- people/personality traits that you like/don’t like, foods, movie genres, book genres, churches, etc. There are so many things going on in college that you get to explore, that is natural for extracurriculars to be a second and third major. And that’s how it should be. However, we spend a lot of time in college still being stifled by the dreams that our parents have for us. While it’s natural to want to please our parents (birth, adoptive, surrogate, or whatever), we are only given one life to live- and we must live that life for ourselves. Life gives us too much to enjoy to spend time trying to live someone else’s dreams. Live for yourself. It might cause stress with your parents, but you’ll sleep better at night because you’re happy that you followed your own dreams and the path crafted for you.

2. You MIGHT NOT have a Job right away…and your dream job could be further (or closer) than you think…

One of the joys of college is that it builds you up. You’re consistently told that your class was the first class to do this, the most talented class since 1864, etc. And you know some pretty fabulous people within your class. People who are doers, who make things happen; people that you would definitely vote “most likely to succeed” or “most likely to change the world”. Hey, you may have been one of those people, yourself. But, as I’m learning now that dream job may not fall into place right after graduation. You might have to take another path than the one you had previously planned. You might have to take a job where you are overqualified and underpaid, to make sure that your bills are paid. No worries- at the right time, the right job will fall into place. Don’t let others force you into a job that’s not right for you because it’s available. When the right job comes, you’ll know it.

3. There’s Much to be Enjoyed in the Simple Things

In college, experiences flow freely. There are always people up for wild road trips and lavish spring breaks. When I think of the amount of money I wasted on some ridiculous things that I “needed”, I cringe. The post-graduate life (after all the graduation money is gone) may not be as lucrative. There are no refund checks coming every semester, so funds must be budgeted and spent wisely. Luckily, most places have a variety of cultural opportunities that are minimal in cost. Check out the local botanical gardens. Explore jazz evenings at a restaurant. Go hang out at Borders and Barnes and Noble. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be enjoyed.

4. Your Destiny is MOST LIKELY not Where You Think It Is

Throughout college, I had ideas of where I would be post-grad, what I’d be doing and how I’d be on my way to being a superstar. None of those ideas involved me moving to another state and venturing out on my own for graduate school. I was quite comfortable with my life where it was. However, what I learned was that you have to go get your destiny. You have to desire it. You have to chase after it. It’s not going to meet you at Starbucks. And while your destiny probably isn’t where you think it is, there is much to be learned while you’re out trying to find it. Such is the beauty of life.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m excited for the Class of 2007. You all are going to be great leaders and changers of the world, much like those who have come before you. And as I said in the initial “What I Wish I’d Known” post, you’re prepared for everything you’re about to encounter. It may be difficult, but just press on a little while longer. I’m praying for you. Be encouraged!

Readers, what other things did you wish you knew before you graduated from college?


Author: erin.almond

God-chaser. NC native, now planted in Jacksonville, FL. Happily married to a handsome church-planting pastor. I am easily excited by Jesus, education, cupcakes, Moleskine notebooks, and Pepsi. Overwhelmed by God's amazing grace, undeserving of His love and mercy.

9 thoughts on “Graduation Reflections and What I Wish I’d Known, Part 2

  1. I guess I just wish I really new what the phrase “new beginning” really meant. I just think we take so much unnecessary stuff with us into the future that of course affects our futures. I just wish I really realized that graduation meant that all this stuff that I needed to leave at UNC could have indeed been left there. Every day really is a new day.

    I also wish I knew God then like I know him now. I wish I really knew what the phrase “Lord over my life” really meant. I wouldn’t have worried/wondered so much. I would have just trusted Him more.

    Congrats again Erin.

  2. As I sit typing at the receptionist desk…I wish I would have known that two degrees does not give me an in at a top level position but rather a foot in the door on my way to where I want to be.

    In college I often said “Do You!” But I wished I would have lived it…like I HATE that I didn’t study abroad because I thought I was gonna miss something at the Hill. You know things like that. Lucky enough I still developed that attitude before I have to “Do my family!”

  3. thanks gene! i agree with both of y’all…

    i think there have been situations since i’ve left college that have forced me to get to know God in a different way than i knew him (or didn’t know him) before. i’ll take it as a part of the plan to make me into who i’m supposed to be.

    and yeah, as i sit here at my job, applying to jobs, hoping that i can use my degrees SOMEWHERE…i wish i knew that it was just going to be a foot in the door. i don’t think i ever wanted the top position. but speaking of the foot in the door, right now i wish someone would just be willing to hold the door open for me.

  4. Old people say, “Youth is wasted on the young.” And it’s real. We don’t know enough to know what it is that we have.

    Twilla, you still have time to get abroad.

  5. I wish I knew that I didn’t have to go to college to make a solid living.

    College is cool and I loved it, but it’s overrated…

  6. Rell,
    That’s interesting. Because not only did you go to college, you’re in grad school. : )

    My wife is about to enter a field where she didn’t need a four year degree. But you didn’t need to go to college to do what you want to do now and in the long run?

    I guess I feel like most of the situations – from what I know – where a degree is not necessary are very much not the norm, especially for “us.” Two former black class mates of ours got full rides to a top 20 MBA program. They chose to go to a top 10 program instead – even though it’s going to cost them – because they said in their fields they need every advantage possible.

  7. college IS overrated

  8. Anyone who thinks college is overrated didn’t do it right. : )

  9. Pingback: What I Wish I’d Known- Part 3 « life beyond the well…

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