Graduates of Batch 2020 and Batch 2021 will remember their commencement exercises differently: not on stage being handed with their diploma, but at home under quarantine due to COVID-19.
It is disheartening to miss one of your life’s biggest moments. But there will come a point that you will have to solve puzzles, asking yourself questions like, “What do I do next? Which job is best for me? What career can I make out of this degree? Do I take a break or do I grab the next opportunity? What is the right thing to do?”
Bigger than the graduation rites, this is what college graduates have to prepare for: an existential crisis following the diploma. You might think you have it all figured out, maybe even developed a plan, but once there is no curriculum to follow, no teacher to give grades, and no syllabus to tell what you need to learn, the possibilities are endless that it yields to confusion. The metrics and guides are gone so you might not be able to find your way.
Because making big decisions can be scary, it might take a while for you to reach for answers that you’ve been looking for or arrive to your desired destination. And along the way, you might find yourself left out at the sight of the accomplishments of your friends, your classmates, and your batchmates, among others, and that will be your life’s greatest distraction ever.
The comparing will not stop: your friend getting promoted, your classmate getting a six-digit salary abroad, your blockmate taking off with a business, your batchmate getting a doctorate degree, et cetera, then there you are, far from their status.
I write this post in the hopes of the graduates amid the pandemic, and probably others who find themselves stuck, to contemplate on their next steps while on quarantine and to gain a mindset that life is not race.
Each of us runs in our own pace. Life is not meant to be lived as a contest of whoever goes first, but about getting there. It’s only a matter of setting a goal and committing to it until it gets accomplished. You do not have to be fast, you just have to go. And when you take a lot of time to look at what others do instead of focusing on your own, it will definitely take longer than expected.
So the next time you come across a post about an important milestone of a friend, a classmate, or a batchmate, the best response is to be happy for them and join them in celebration. It doesn’t help anyone if you get jealous or insecure. Just hope that you will find yourself in the same happy place someday, and so others can also celebrate with you.
For now, to all graduates of Batch 2020 and Batch 2021, congratulations. This is just the beginning for you to do great things and make an impact in the outside world.
Please don’t get distracted.
The original version was first posted on Engineer Dee’s Facebook page.