“So, what are you doing after you graduate?”
When I meet fourth-year students, one of my first instincts is to ask this very question. These days, I often find myself on the receiving end.
Many cringe when asked this question, as uncertainty on life after undergrad can be magnified when it hits you as a three-second question.
With grad school deadlines looming, my years of volunteering, late nights and internship experience will be combined to form an application labeled: “ME … please accept!”
Preparing for these applications has brought to light the importance of investing in relationships that count.
When you’re stuck in your room working on answers to those simple, yet surprisingly tough application questions, it’s easy to feel lonely and out of the loop as you watch your friends hanging out around you — without you.
Attending a social event once in a while or talking to your housemate as you prepare dinner may temporarily fill that sense of loneliness, but relationships that haven’t been nourished with time and effort can leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled.
It’s exactly the kind of feeling you don’t want to have when planning life after undergrad has already left you somewhat soft and vulnerable inside.
Seeking fulfillment in trivial interactions — like worrying about someone’s tone in a Facebook message, or when the person you’ve had your eye on will finally talk to you — isn’t the answer.
Relationships shouldn’t by any means be considered trivial, but there are certain parts of our interactions that are. When we worry about these trivial parts of our relationships, any sense of fulfillment is short-term, leaving us as empty as we were before.
Life has a funny way of making you look back and realize that the strength to pursue your dreams — and fill out those grad school applications — often comes from your close family and friends who’ve been there all along, but whose impact you’ve sometimes failed to notice because your time has been spent overanalyzing other situations.
We need to dismiss the trivial and nourish relationships we can count on — those that will strengthen us as we pursue our goals after graduation.
Natasa is one of the Journal’s Assistant News Editors. She’s a fourth-year political studies major.
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