I wrote the sentences above a year ago, when I realised that my constant oscillation between excitement and anxiety may have something to do with graduation approaching. Yet, I was still trying my best to enjoy the last bits of student life; in the same way you fail to enjoy the last day of vacation. Your body might be having a final cocktail on the beach, but your soul is already queuing at the gate.

Throughout this period, I did some research, and found that an American psychologist, called Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, had studied this transition period when you go from being an adolescent to an adult. He called it emerging adulthood and described it as:

“A life stage in which explorations and instability are the norm. As they focus on their self-development, emerging adults feel in-between, on the way to adulthood but not there yet.”

Writing for Erasmus Magazine during my last year of studies gave me an outlet to navigate the emotional disorientation of emerging adulthood, preparing me to face my future. But as it had arrived, and my graduation cap was flying over the pavilion, I was struck by the happy faces of my classmates. Suddenly, the entire campus was stained with the memories we’ve shared, and I felt every fiber of my body insisting that I am not ready to leave yet.

Teary-eyed on the plane home, I engaged in the mental torture of playing Stop This Train by John Mayer on repeat while daydreaming about doing my master’s all over again. But by the ninth verse of ‘We’ll never stop this train’, I decided it was time to take out my headphones. However much I tried to deny it, I realised that even if I could go back, it would never be the same again. Because I am not the same anymore.

When I got home, I saw that some of my classmates had already posted pictures of the graduation on LinkedIn, with quotes like ‘Excited for the opportunities that lay ahead’. I smiled at my phone and put it back in my pocket. Maybe I would soon feel the same way.

Dora Tolstoy columnist_nr4-Levien Willemse – Pauline Wiersema

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