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This is The Next Step

by Adrian Anatalio '21, Career Ambassador Dec 14, 2020

Now that it’s my turn to graduate, I finally understand why all of the seniors in previous years began to experience existential crises during their final semester of college. With the end drawing near, the thought of receiving a Bachelor’s degree in just a few short months can almost feel too soon. Graduation may seem like an impending landmark that can make us question if we are prepared for what comes after. Usually, this fear stems from not knowing what is to come. We would feel safer knowing what’s next.

Our lives continue to change and move through seasons as long as we are living, and so this question of “what’s next?” never goes away. No matter what state of life we are in, there is always something that follows. Furthermore, we can never be certain exactly what the future may hold.

We all want to have a plan that we can follow to make sure we are on track to be successful and happy. This desire is certainly appropriate, but there is also a beauty in uncertainty.

The future has uncertainty written in its structure, and it can be a beautiful thing when we respond to it with trust and hope.

It is important to recognize that this perspective does not entail merely wishful thinking that everything will magically work out if we have a positive attitude. The trust and hope that we ought to possess as a lens for how we live each day cannot be separated from our agency in bringing about those desired outcomes. We are still called to act to make our goals come to fruition, but we must hold fast to confidence and courage even when we do not know exactly what will meet us during our journey.

We do this by simply doing our best right now. We should be thankful that these times of uncertainty can teach us to live in the present moment. Our preparation for tomorrow can only be done today. The simple truth is that if we continue to live for “what’s next”, it will never arrive.

Graduation has a tendency to force us to think about the future, which is not a bad thing as long as we do not get consumed with trying to control it.

What comes after graduation is certain to come. The only thing we are able to control is what we do today.

As I look onward at the next chapter of my life, I am fortunate enough to continue my education in graduate school. The pursuit of this goal was a learning opportunity for me to practice this perspective. It was challenging to simultaneously apply myself in the classes I was currently taking while also thinking about the future. I had a tendency to be frustrated with the work I had this past semester because I thought it was interfering with how much I could focus on the application process for the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. However, I realized that I was able to do my best in my classes by recognizing that I was not just finishing up this school year to move on to the next thing. By striving to excel as a student, I was a stronger applicant for the program.

Now that it’s my turn to graduate, I finally understand what I am called to do during this final semester. The best thing that I can do is to continue being the student that I have always been. It is not because I have a better idea of what the next step is - I simply realize that the next step is this one right in front of me.

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