You’ve probably pictured something like this: finally coming home at the end of the day, sitting down on your sofa, stretching out your arms and legs, and taking in a deep breath. You’ve done it. You’ve passed all the paperwork you spent hours and hours on. You’ve bid farewell to the last professor you had for the day. You’ve completed all your units. You are ready to graduate… but you’re not quite there yet. What’s it really like, waiting for graduation day? The Menagerie gives you a glimpse of what it’s like waiting to exhale—from the eyes of some of our upcoming graduates.
Surge of emotions
After all the sleepless nights and countless hours of work, all the cups of coffee and the occasional gulps of Red Bull, happiness seeps in and takes the place of stress and anxiety. “Of course, you feel happy,” Felix (V, ECM-FIN) openly cheers about the bliss of getting a well-deserved break. He also elaborates on the fulfillment his parents got out of him finishing his studies. “I’m the eldest kasi so they have high expectations for me,” he confesses. Carms (IV, MKT) shares the same sentiment, saying that although she currently has the energy to take part in internships, her parents feel otherwise. “My mom wants me to take a long break before I commit to a permanent job.”
The surge of emotions will present itself once you settle in a groove. That’s what graduating students feel when they finish all the requirements, that is, until the feelings plateau. What then? “In college, there’s always a big to-do list in your head,” Carms relays. “You get to your thesis, which literally becomes your life for two to three months. After all that, you’re done… There’s that feeling of restlessness. I get restless really easily.” Felix feels the same way, stating that after everything, it can leave one feeling ‘empty’. “Parang inside of you, after your units are done, you kinda feel empty. Like, you invested four years of your life here and now it’s done. And all those relationships, all down the drain kasi you’ll all have your own paths.”
Without any pressing deadlines or sudden, unplanned group meetings knocking at your door, you close your eyes, sit back, and relax. But then, as the minutes go by, you suddenly fidget, not being used to being so relaxed and at peace. “It was enjoyable at first,” shares Michelle (IV, ENT). “But as the days dragged on, I’m feeling like I’m losing my skills.” Larisse (IV, FIN) agrees, sharing, “I felt like it was such a waste of time to only be staying at home at all the time… It was absolutely boring.”
“What happened to me was I enjoyed the stress of school eh, like doing everything at the same time, multitasking,” Felix confesses about the sudden halt of all the academic requirements and org activities. While most students clamor for more holidays, more class suspensions, and more long breaks, the hustle and bustle of the academic life can leave a productive student busy, something that often changes when the time for the march comes. Until then, what’s a busybody with free time to do?
“I usually go to the gym to workout. Sometimes, me and my friends will agree to meet up and chill somewhere in the Metro,” Aldwin (V, ENT) shares. Graduating students who are only waiting for their diplomas take the free time to explore new hobbies, catch up on shows and films they may have missed, and of course, bond with friends and family. “I try to go out with friends as often as possible,” Carms shares, before adding that catching up on some anime has also been her go-to hobby during the lull before the march.
Other students see the time as a way to pay back their parents in whatever way they see fit. “The errands help, try to help out your parents,” Felix urges other students who are waiting for graduation. “It doesn’t matter if they have a business or if they’re working; if you can do something for them, just do something for them.” Unfortunately, like any other activity, money is part of the issue, which must be why Carms and Aldwin are actively seeking part-time work. “Going out takes a toll on the wallet so I’m starting to look for internships and part-time jobs since I’m not ready for a final job yet,” Carms light-heartedly says.
Beyond the march
After all is said and done, after all the graduation photos have been posted on social media, the dreaded ‘real world’ looms over graduates from all walks of life. Carms probes us, saying, “What now? Everything from now on depends on you. It’s daunting.”
While waiting for his diploma, Felix shares how old doubts may have resurfaced in anticipation of the future. “I guess that [there was an] identity crisis [when] entering college, what course to take, diba,” he shares. “At the end of the day, you realize na you’re the captain of your fate eh. Your parents are still gonna be there for you, but they’re just gonna be there for you if you make a mistake… You have so much time to think about [the future], pero, at the end of the day, you still don’t know.”
Aldwin tries to see things in a more positive light, saying, “I know that I am doing my best every day to achieve my goals.” Of course, after all the work put out during college, it’s not uncommon to feel the need to pressure one’s self, especially with the workforce coming up. Carms says, “I guess the pressure mainly comes from myself, and not wanting to become stagnant. As much as possible, I want to get as much experience out there.”
Wen Wen (IV, ENT), on the other hand, can’t help but let out a sigh of relief, although he is still a bit worried because, like his peers, “[I] still don’t know what I plan to do next.”
Miss the most
It’s normal to feel ill about college, to feel as if the hardest courses and projects are the pinnacle of one’s capacity. It’s funny, then, to realize that, after a year, the “hardest challenges” all seem so petty and small. When asked what he’ll miss most about DLSU, Felix shares, “Madami, actually. I’m gonna miss everything.”
Meanwhile, Carms confesses that college has been good to her and that, “There’s a part of me that’s scared and sad to let it go.” However, while it’s often said that college makes up the best years of your life, she believes that, “It’s important not to mark [any] one phase of your life as the ‘best years of your life’.”
For others, it seems the most difficult part is having to let go of the feeling of being a student. “I will miss the whole environment,” shares Michelle, “and the sort of fewer responsibilities as a dependent child.” The same goes for Wen Wen. “[The thing I’ll miss the most is] the feeling of being a student and not yet being in the ‘real world’.”
Nearing the end of the line, graduating students can almost see the real world unfolding before their eyes. “An ending can be an opportunity for a new, more promising beginning,” Carms closes her correspondence with the writers. Like they say, the journey is more important than the ending. Exhaling, though, is just as important as chewing the scenery and getting the feel of everything all at once.
As you slowly breathe out all the air you’ve been keeping in for so long, you can’t help but think of all the good things that have happened in the past. You remember your friends, your professors, and all the new learnings you stumbled upon throughout your journey. That’s all in the past now, but you can’t help but smile as you finally make that well-deserved exhale, and take in that breath of new, fresh air.