Post Graduation Depression is something most people don’t acknowledge or even realize they have. Because for many, graduation on any level is always looked upon as a celebratory moment.
It’s usually described as a flow chart of continuous events that elevate you into another level, such as going from kindergarten to elementary school to middle school to high school. It ultimately comes to the mecca of freedom: College, where you will be happier making it through a semester not eating ramen noodles every night than thinking of the long haul of applying for graduation.
When you graduate high school, you have a newfound excitement to know you will be away from your parents. Even though some students never indulged in alcohol in their high school career, others wanting to exercise this freedom put their empty bottles on top of their cabinets as trophies.
While some are eager to attend a party promoted by overzealous party promoters welcoming you to the specific city.
But, as you progress through your college career, you find the excitement dies, and you start to understand why your parents fought so hard for you not to be in a rush to grow up. Before you know it, you’re a college senior, and all you hear is, “what are you going to do next?”
Most college students are busy trying their best to survive a semester that comes with unexpected trials no one can prepare them for. The constant battle of trying to find your niche or passion while everyone is telling you to find a major or career with stable income. On occasion, this advice comes from adults who only made weekend trips to visit their college friends.
So what advice can they possibly give you? You find yourself striving to graduate, and, to your amazement, you finally cross the stage, ready to post on social media about how you finally did it. Because if you don’t post it, nobody will believe you actually graduated from a university, right? Right.
Now, you have that Bachelor’s degree that everybody told you was your golden ticket to the factory of success. Sallie Mae pats you on your back while asking for the money you owe her only a month after receiving your ticket.
Here comes the coined — but not diagnosed — term: Post graduate depression.
Post graduate depression starts to manifest when a graduate begins to feel like a child again in their parent's home as they think they are more of a failure than a success. It is a feeling of sadness and the inability to function for newly made graduates after they leave behind the world they created in college.
Millennials have the highest rate of depression and anxiety of any generation, and the struggle to find a job is high on the list of causes.
For some graduates, it’s even harder to leave the college community you became so adapted to because you no longer have that structure. The set schedule of class, part-time job and numerous organizational events was something you depended on. Now, you feel out of the loop when it comes to the campus struggles of being a college student. No more rushing to submit an assignment at 11:59 a.m. or the apparent answering of twitter polls about skipping class the next morning. This starts to bring an unwarranted feeling of sadness, loss and confusion into one’s life.
On top of that, most graduates don't have a job awaiting them after college. Now, they feel they don’t belong in the college world or the adult world.
San Francisco-based psychologist Juli Fraga spoke on the term in the Washington Post to highlight her observances of the term. She started to see the emotion firsthand when counseling students during their fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley.
“Post-grad depression is underreported because graduation is like motherhood,” Fraga said. “Culturally seen as a seemingly joyful time, which makes it even more shameful for someone to admit that it’s not.”
Social media doesn’t help with post graduate depression either. You have some friends that have Instagram-worthy careers traveling the country every weekend, and others are getting married, all while you’re getting told to follow the idealistic view that you should work at a job you hate for 30 years just so you can pay your bills on time.
I say that to say this: I do not have a solution for you. Yes, you won’t be able to walk down the hall to your friend’s room and go to the cafe or eat breakfast at Waffle House after a late night downtown. Instead, you will embark on a new chapter in life; a chapter that may not involve paying a parking ticket that will put a hold on your account.
The best thing you can do is transform your passions into adulthood, and that can be in more ways than one. If you have a desire to help people, you can always volunteer. If you love to make music, SoundCloud is available for you to post your songs. You have the freedom to launch yourself into where you genuinely want to be.
But I can say it is okay to not be okay and not know what is next. Breathe with your passion and your purpose and allow everything to happen in its due time. Learn what it is you want to do in the world and don’t let anyone pressure you into anything else. If you miss your friends who may be far away, pick up the phone, or, better yet, road trips are always great. Nobody is in this alone because we are all trying to figure it out.
Besides, you might as well live a happy life and embrace a career you love to slightly rectify the monthly pain of paying back Sallie Mae.