Huffpost College
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sophie Keller Headshot

5 Tips for a Happy Graduation

Posted: Updated:

Graduating is about change and moving on, and in the same breath it can be frightening as well as exciting. Being frightened and excited often have the same physical symptoms: racing heart, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, etc. The only thing that is really different is your choice of attitude. Do you decide that moving on is an exciting prospect or a frightening one? One thing you can be sure of in life is change, and some of us find change easy and welcome the challenge, and others find it hard. But with change come opportunities for growth, and if we are here on this planet for anything, it is to grow. So here are five tips for graduating to keep in mind.

1. Be comfortable not knowing!

If you don't know what to do after school, don't worry about it. Sometimes it's really important to have the well empty before you fill it up again. You've probably been extremely busy with studying, but there is no need to keep filling up your time just because you're used to doing so. It is important to have a rest, to let your mind empty, so that you leave space for new ideas to come in. Try to be comfortable with sitting with "nothingness"; it can actually be quite a relief to not know what's next and to not worry about it.

2. You're first choice is not your only choice.

The first job that you choose to do doesn't have to be "right"; it is just what you are doing "right now." I know lots of people who change careers, whether it's lawyers becoming writers, car mechanics becoming realtors or managers becoming photographers. Each profession you choose or each part of your life experience informs the next part. Even if you don't do a total about-turn with your career, aim to see each phase as a building block. It is way too pressurized to think your first choice is your only one.

3. A job is made up of many jobs.

Whatever you chose to do, there are always large parts of it that aren't that fun, and you need to make sure that you are prepared to do those things. For example, when I started out in the acting profession, I thought that it was just about being on stage or on a TV or film set, but I soon realized that it was, amongst other things, about making calls, creating contacts, getting an agent, being in shape, auditioning and spending a huge amount of time learning sides, with no guarantees of a job. Now that's show business, and it is the "business" aspect that I had to take in to account and love as well, because I was going to be doing those other things most of the time. My point is that you will never love every bit of what you do in a job, but so long as you love most of what is entailed, you are on to a winner.

4. Don't be afraid to change your mind.

In your 20s, much of life is a process of deciding what you don't want as much as what you do want. So if you find that the first thing you choose isn't ultimately for you, then don't be afraid to change to one that might be. However, notice whether you are someone who has a pattern of hopping from one thing to the next without finishing things, or whether you are genuinely, legitimately changing your mind.

5. Enjoy the roller coaster ride.

Don't expect to get where you want to go in one fell swoop; it usually takes years to get the results that you desire. The people who tend to do well are the ones who persevere and just keep going. If you are 25 now and doing a job, it is very likely that in 10 years' time, you will be where you want to be. Now, you might think, "That's ridiculous; I want to be there in one year," but that is unrealistic. You don't need to be in a rush or prove anything to anyone. The journey is what needs to be enjoyable, because if you only enjoy the end points, you are in for a very depressing life, as those points are rare, odd moments; the journey is the rest of it.

Remember that life is about cycles, whether it's cycles of the moon, the seasons, the economy, you name it. Careers are the same; sometimes you will be doing really well, and other times you will have lean years. Keep balanced throughout, and whether you have tough times or not, as long as you have your health, great relationships and food on your table, then you can enjoy the roller coaster ride.

The first four "How Happy Is" books are coming out in the fall. In the meantime, please visit me at www.howhappyis.com for more articles and videos. You can follow me on Twitter @Sophie_keller.