In May 2020, about 3.7 million students are expected to graduate from high school and 4.5 million are expected to graduate from college. That’s over 8 million students who will be going through some of the most significant changes of their life.
If you’re one of these students, this period of change will likely be the beginning of you getting to know yourself as an individual. You might be traveling hundreds or thousands of miles away from home and pursuing internships as well as long-term careers. The unknown of the future can be quite nerve wracking.
Here are a few ways to combat or perhaps embrace the discomfort that often accompanies periods of growth.
1. Realize that change is better than numbness.
The reason that so many of us are afraid to leave the traditional educational system is because the work/reward system is so simple. In high school, studying hard and turning your homework in on time will likely get you an A. You’ll likely get scholarship offers and be covered for the next four years of your life.
In college, you can even look up your professors, curriculum and syllabi in advance in order to see what your class will be like before you take it. This level of certainty can become addictive especially because most of us are exposed to it in our years of development.
We become addicted to this monotony and mistake it for comfort making it so that when periods of change arrive our first reaction is resistance. You might resist change by remaining in your current job and refusing to apply for jobs that are far from your current location.
This isn’t inherently wrong but if you have even a small interest in the position and you don’t pursue it, then you may be acting out of fear. If your decisions are constantly ruled by self-doubt, you’ll end up stuck where you are out of a fear of the unknown.
The certainty you once had can slowly morph into apathy if you resist change in favor of staying in a familiar situation. In the long run, apathy is much worse than participating in change no matter how big or small it may be.
2. Embrace the discomfort.
Being forced into a new situation is uncomfortable, because you’re exploring foreign avenues. Outside of your comfort zone lies the possibility of rejection. The best way to embrace the uneasiness that comes with change is to think rationally. This means acknowledging the fact that when pursuing new avenues, you’re going to be unsure of yourself for a while.
But eventually, you’ll apply your own solutions to the problems presented to you and become more knowledgeable than you could’ve ever imagined. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t graduate college with your ideal job right away. Embrace the uncertainty and the journey to your goal.
There are points in life where you’re going to have to be uncomfortable in order to grow. If you wait until you’re completely ready to pursue something, then you may never do it. You can’t control the fact that change is happening, but you can control how you react to that change.
Embracing periods of change can also mean accepting the fact that it can mean starting all over again. If you’re graduating from college or moving across the country, then this experience will be like none you’ve ever had and that can also be exciting! While navigating this journey, you’ll learn valuable lessons and discover your unique potential.
3. Look at it as an opportunity to consider new perspectives.
Being pushed out of your comfort zone will give you the opportunity to consider new perspectives on the world around you. The things that held great value to you before this period of change may matter less to you afterwards.
From grade school to college one of the most important aspects of your life is your schoolwork. You’re taught to believe that academic performance will determine the rest of your life, but that’s only partly true. After college, a lot of the opportunities that come your way may be through non-traditional avenues.
When you are presented with a situation that you’ve never experienced, you’re forced to change your mindset to understand it. Change brings about a certain mindfulness that you wouldn’t receive otherwise.