Daunting Transitions

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The Final Ruminations of a Graduating Senior

As college students (or humans), it’s natural to occasionally reminisce about our pasts to comfort us against our impending future. In passing someone will mention a quote from a childhood TV show that everyone finds funny again; a warm and fuzzy memory emerges from a family vacation; or we get to spend quality time with high school friends who we go months or sometimes even years without seeing.

These moments are often fleeting and rarely cumulative. They are day to day activities that have little impact on the grand scope of our future. Collectively, however, they each contribute to the epochs of our lives that we rarely think about until a pivotal moment of change is thrust upon us.

Finishing my undergraduate career is the most pivotal of those moments. Growing up, we pass tests and complete assignments year after year, always moving forward to the next concrete academic step. High School finishes and you’re presented with a plethora of college choices provided you worked hard and got lucky. Although making that choice is more challenging than passing your AP classes, you still have a guaranteed step in moving forward with your life. College rolls around and you settle into a new lifestyle. You make new friends, let go of old ones, maybe change your major, and you experiment with thoughts, actions, and behaviors which were previously out of the picture. Three and half years fly by and I’m sitting on my couch every night asking myself Jed Bartlet’s favorite question:

 Photo Credit: Huffington Post/NBC

Photo Credit: Huffington Post/NBC

I value order and control over many other tenants of my life and personality. I’m the guy who likes to have a plan, who likes to have things figured out, and any sort of ambiguity is met with at best annoyance and at worst anxiety. For the first time in my life I genuinely feel like an adult. That sense of external order, control, and the overwhelming notion that everything is going to be okay is what I’m going to miss from my childhood and what I’ll be chasing to regain in the future. Although I’m graduating with a major that suits me, I still can’t put my finger definitively on what my dream career looks like, or if it’s even remotely relevant to my studies. I don’t know if more education lies in my future, where I’ll be living next year, how much money I’ll be making, the people that I’m going to surround myself with, or if I can find a Mrs. Right . NONE of these worries were present in the first twenty years of my existence and now they unpleasantly permeate my daily thoughts, actions, and choices.

If you’re a high-achieving control freak like me or if any of this has resonated with you on a spiritual or emotional level, find comfort in the universality of the great unknown, as terrifying as it may be. If the past 18 months of personal tragedies in my family have taught me anything, it’s that issues outside of our control will arise when you’re 20, 30, 40, and 50 and beyond, no matter how well you have prepared. Perspective is everything. The world is filled with abject poverty, violent conflict, and terminal disease. Our issues of discovering self-actualization and overcoming adversity, by comparison, can seem relatively tame, even asinine. That doesn’t mean your problems are unfounded or unimportant. Find comfort in your skills, abilities, experiences, and dreams. Find comfort in societal generalities (even though the following might be hyperbole): countless people have found themselves in their 20’s or even later. Find comfort in the probable reality that a click-bait article that says “millennials can do x but they suck at y” lacks a single ounce of journalistic integrity. Find comfort by surrounding yourself with like-minded people who love, appreciate, and challenge you and cut out anyone who makes you feel otherwise. Find comfort in the fact that you are not even remotely alone in fearing your own future.

In my times of internal weakness, I do my best to embrace the aforementioned advice. In addition, rationally, I know that I have so many good things going for my situation. I’d like to thank the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication for providing a quality liberal arts education under the tutelage of talented educators like Betsy Anderson and Jennifer Johnson and for surrounding me with a cohort of highly intelligent and accomplished peers. More importantly, my thanks go out to the eternally wise and never boring Scott Meyer. He trusted me to become an integral part an innovative, dynamic, and wonderfully fun organization that will have a lasting impact on my life. The skills I’ve learned and the people I’ve met as a CLAgency Account Executive have opened doors in so many different areas both personally and professionally. To all my fellow account execs: you guy are simply awesome. I’d buy any of you a beer in any city in the world, so let’s keep in touch as we go our separate ways.

 Photo Credit: CLAgency Facebook

Photo Credit: CLAgency Facebook

Above all else, my endless love and gratitude extends to my family for being the light in my darkest moments. They have supported me without hesitation for the past 21 years and I’m sure that will continue into the next chapter of my life, wherever and whenever that may begin.

As uncertain as the future may be, there is a strange beauty and allure into forging your own path, even if there are so many factors that seem completely out of your own control. I know I have the skills, experience, education, drive, and support system to succeed. It may not come today or tomorrow, but I know somewhere soon down the line, all things will come together and once again I’ll be able to live my life with the confidence that everything is going to be okay. 

By: Mitchell J. Cress



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