Mallory Welsh, LCSW

May brings the beginning of the graduation season: graduating from undergrad, graduate school, or obtaining new licenses or certifications. Even if you didn’t just complete your last semester in an academic program, maybe you completed a goal or graduated from a big milestone in your life, which also is a big success! Congrats!

However, with all of the new possibilities that graduation brings, many new graduates also feel anxious as to what is next in their life.

Below is a simple guide on how to celebrate milestones and cope with the anxiety of facing the “unknown.”

  • Pause. In the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Yes, just take a pause and take a minute to take it all in. Soak up this milestone, whether it is personal or professional. Maybe even take a picture of this day to have it be remembered as a moment in time where success was completed through all your hard work.
  • Practice Gratitude. After pausing in this moment, take time to practice gratitude by tapping into your spiritual self-care. Being in touch with your spiritual self does not have to be religious necessarily, but it can be how you feel in your inner self/soul. Taking a minute to be grateful of how far you’ve come. Practicing gratitude can certainly take off the pressure of “what’s next.”
  • Celebrate! After pausing and practicing gratitude for this monumental moment, celebrate your success! Spend time with your friends at your favorite restaurant or treat yourself to a special spa day.
  • Reflect. After a few days of celebrating your success, the feelings of anxiety and “what’s next” might creep in. If you do not have a job or something lined up following your incredible milestone, use this time to reflect on what your values are today. Living a value-centered life can be both tricky and rewarding. Using this in-between time can be significantly important in setting you up for a happy and successful life.
  • Identify Your Values. After reflecting, you now can start to identify what your values and passions are in life. It is never too late to start a different career path. Sure it can be stressful and scary, but it is worth it, as you will likely bring more happiness into your life.
  • Own It. If you do find that you are feeling anxious of the “unknown,” own this feeling. Do not try to pretend this feeling does not exist, as that typically makes the anxiety heighten. Attempt to understand that you are not alone in this journey of being scared of the “what’s next.”
  • Share This Feeling. If your anxiety continues, share this feeling with a trusted friend or even a counselor. You may be surprised that so many others are also experiencing this feeling of “what’s next.”

Attempting to practice embracing success and coping with “what’s next” can be challenging, however it will likely provide you with a healthier and more meaningful life. While this list provides a variety approaches, try to focus on the one(s) that you think will allow you to best practice embracing success and coping with anxiety in your life.

If you are currently struggling with coping with anxiety your life, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.