The fear and change of graduation

Graduating is a lot scarier than one would think

For most students, the winter term will be concluding in just a few weeks. For myself, this will be the end of my four-year university career. I cannot lie to you — I am quite nervous about this. For four years, my predominant identity has been that of a student, and in less than two months I will be pushed into the real world.

The structure of my daily life has been governed by my education. Once I finish school at the end of April, I will never again be forced to study for a test or read a 30-page article. I am not necessarily sad about that, believe it or not. However, the removal of educational structure and organization will be difficult to adjust to.

My student identity coming to an end also puts me in something of a crisis. Once school is over, I will be forced to sort of rewire myself. I will not be “Braden, student journalist” anymore, I will be “Braden, something or other.”

The fact is that the University of Manitoba, and especially the Manitoban, have provided me with a sense of belonging and identity. But that belonging comes with a sense of melancholy, as I know that it is coming to an end. I was always aware of that, but only now am I confronted with it.

I am also totally lost as to what my next steps are after I finish my degree program. I could head straight into a career, do some freelance writing or I could take another, shorter program in something else I am interested in. Of course, these prospects are exciting, but they are also frightening.

For the first time in forever, I have no idea what I am going to do next. When I was in high school, I looked toward university, and as a continuing university student I looked toward the coming year of classes. But now, in my final year, the future I look toward is totally unwritten.

I might be lucky to not know what comes next because it means I can make choices that define my life on my own terms. I could become a writer for some respectable publication, become a civil servant or enter into the study of journalism and film. While the structure of school might fade and the identity that comes with it will change, I will continue to evolve as an individual.

Writing for the Manitoban taught me a lot about writing, and that work does not have to be a chore you dread daily. My studies at the U of M have pushed the boundaries of how I understood the world and made me grow as a person.

Of course, I am scared of graduating. But I am also proud of myself for completing my degree, proud of all the work I have accomplished and proud of the body of knowledge I have acquired. The fantastic people that I’ve met have made the experience especially worthwhile. Friends, peers and coworkers have been full of ideas that I could never have imagined four years ago.

Many of my professors and instructors have pushed the boundaries of what I thought I knew. One of the first professors I had the pleasure of meeting, doctor Mary-Anne Kandrack, instilled a love of sociology and discourse in me that will never leave.

Change is often terrifying, but change is one of the few things that you cannot avoid. Life moves on, so one can either hide away from it or try to find meaning and purpose in whatever comes next.