I didn’t really start to prioritize my mental health until I graduated college, and suffered from post-graduate depression. For the record, yes post-graduate depression is real, and yes it will hit you harder than a bag of bricks if you’re not mentally prepared.
Post-graduate depression isn't classified as a mental illness, but it is one of the main reasons why most college students suffer from depression, feel discouraged, or experience extreme sadness after graduating. I myself, joined the party in June of 2018, when I graduated UDC with a BBA in Accounting. It wasn’t the fact that I couldn’t find a job in my field, but it was more so not wanting to take the conventional route of being an Accountant in Corporate America anymore. I was at battle with myself and my career, eventually causing me to go into a deep depression the entire summer after graduation.
Let’s back track. My first semester of senior year changed the trajectory of my life entirely. I started to use my camera more and tap into my creative endeavors. Videography soon became my escape goat from the stress I was dealing with from school and my personal life. It was my therapy in times where I wanted to pull my hair out, and scream from the top of my lungs about how shitty life was. I got even more invested in videography, when I managed to obtain a position as a videographer on the student marketing team at school. As soon as I started learning how to align my business knowledge with my creativity, the last thing on my mind was sitting behind a desk and bookkeeping.
Unfortunately, post-graduate depression isn’t diagnosable so it’s extremely important to recognize the red flags and take action. My depression stemmed mainly from me not knowing which route to take, and overwhelmed because I didn’t have everything figured out after I walked across that stage. A month after graduating, I started to form bad habits like smoking & sleeping all day, eating unhealthy foods, and planting self sabotaging thoughts in my head that belittled all of my previous accomplishments. What really pulled me from the darkness was thinking about the people who were counting on me and rooting for my success. I looked myself in the mirror and told myself “Key, you didn’t come this far to only come this far, keep going.” From there, I started to reprogram my mind with positive affirmations, create a plan on how I was going to do what I love and make a living, and worked every day towards a smaller goal that lead to accomplishing a bigger goal.
The one thing that I had to remind myself was, it’s okay to not have everything figured out. It’s also okay to be in your 20’s and not have a master plan, your dream job, or make 6 figures a year. Life is a journey, not a race. There is absolutely no reason to rush or cheat your process, because when you cheat your process, you are only cheating yourself out of life lessons that will eventually help you elevate. Try not to focus on the things that you don’t have, and instead, express gratitude for the things that are present. Pat yourself on the back for graduating, and use that momentum to strive for more. Talk your shit, you have a degree, you’ve worked hard and you did that! Uncertainty is frightening, but try not to allow fear to fill your space. Fear and faith can not coexist. It‘s perfectly fine to feel your emotions, but just don’t stay in them. Have faith in your journey, confidence in your ability to achieve your goals, and always trust your process no matter what.