How Perception of Time Changes After Graduation
We’ve all sacrificed fun for school. Any of us would rather go out than study for an exam that you know is going to destroy your grade if you don’t do well. You went to class, completed assignments, presented collaborative projects, and now, it’s finally over. You’re done with the anxiety-ridden exams. Done with the countless essays. Done with stuff that you didn’t always want to do, yet pushed yourself to finish. It’s worth commemorating! Congratulate yourself wholeheartedly, you deserve it. No one can take this feat away from you, ever. 🥂🥂🥂🥂🥂🥂
So now you have all this unnoticed free time… and what… do you… do?
School systems mentally structure our brains to operate by time intervals. When you’re in K-12, it’s usually a 7am — 2pm commitment, five days a week. Most of that growing up doesn’t include a job, though the latter half of your high school years might differ than others. As you’re progressing your brain becomes accustomed to expecting classes, homework, projects, studying, tests, etc., for back-to-back years upon years. In college you are probably balancing school with work, heavily. And that’s not including maintaining your own social life. Then, once you are finally done with the arduous journey, your life will face an unexpected restructuring. You’ve dedicated 18+ years to schoolwork and come the week post-graduation, it’ll be a strange feeling to no longer have that as PART of your life. You’ve familiarized, strengthened, and calibrated your mind to school for such a long time that having that portion of your life separated can bring about an unclear, never-before-considered thought. What do you do with that time now?
Unless you have a job that may offer you more hours or a career waiting as soon you step down the stage, your perception of time will become discombobulated. What do you do with your extra HOURS of each day? You are so habituated to clocking in for class, devoting time for studying, meeting with others on/off campus, that now when you remove all that out of your life, it can feel… unconventional. You’re quite literally detaching from your everyday routine of over a decade’s worth of fine-tuning your identity. You’re used to the sameness and comfortable with how you manage school as an adult. This can come off intimidating, as many of your friends can probably attest. It is why post-graduation depression is a real, yet surmountable obstacle. It’s imperative to realize sooner, rather than later, that things will change. But change is malleable. It’s all about adapting. While you are ending your higher education, it’s keen to realize that you’ll always be learning. Maybe not about Calculus or AB Physics, but knowledge that applies to and interests you will continue onwards.
There’s a silver lining behind the time disruption. While not always the case, obviously your undergraduate / graduate pursuits limit your 24-hour days. When you’re finished, you’ll open up more time for yourself. It’s up to you to figure out how you want to allocate it. You could begin that hobby you’ve been putting off. You can sign up for physical training sessions you’ve wanted to take. You can go explore new places with friends. The point is this — START things that you enjoy. Many of us are setting things to the side because we don’t believe we have the time for it. ‘It’ll happen by ___,’ ‘I can’t do this right now,’ ‘I’ll have time in the future,’ etc. But here’s the authentic truth: life is unexpected. If you’re rushing to just get to the point in time where your ideal lifestyle is actualized, you won’t ever enjoy the present. You don’t know how your life will look like in 10 years from now. You sure as hell did not see how you would end up 10 years ago to present day you, did you?
Do you want to marry someone in the near future? ‘It’ll happen by the time I turn 30.’ Maybe you will, or maybe you’ll still be single and tweeting about trying to find someone before you turn 35.
Do you want to look at yourself in the mirror and smile at your physique? ‘I can’t do this right now.’ Well, when can you? When you’re 7 years older and possibly in worse shape than today?
Do you want to read a book that’s captured your interest? ‘I’ll have time in the future.’ It’s another year of it not being read and collecting dust in the corner of the room.
We all eat, sleep, drink (water), and breathe air. It’s part of our physiological needs as humans. To add to it, we all work. How much, how long, how hard, is dependent on too many fair and unfair conditions and circumstances. But work provides purpose. School is a means of helping you configure purpose. And while no one knows their exact life outcome, it’s a part of the human experience. That’s why I encourage trying and experimenting after you graduate. Work and a career will always be a part of your life and time. But now you’ve finished something that’s been a part of your life, and is no longer depleting your time. Whatever your new free amount is, use it. Have fun and be imaginative, start doing things you wanted to do. If you fail at a new endeavor, you can say you tried it. If you write something that doesn’t stand out, you can learn from your attempt. If you make a song that doesn’t take off, you can say ‘I still created this.’ It’s about taking initiative and trial-and-erroring. What’s worse to you? Failing at something you’ve always wanted to do, or pondering endlessly if you’ll ever be able to do it? We have all blamed school obligations for our creative interests.
You’ve graduated, so that can no longer be your go-to excuse.
Start just ONE thing that you’ve pushed to the side because of school. It’ll lead you in the right direction towards self-fulfillment as you embark on your career and future.