Happy Graduation! Cheers To New Adventures!
From all of us at Advance LA, congratulations to the high school graduates! This is a huge milestone for a young person who has completed thirteen years of education. It is typical for high school seniors to experience mixed emotions as they participate in graduation ceremonies and parties. Feelings of fear, anxiety, and sadness, combined with relief, anticipation, and joy are all part of the normal graduation process.
Graduation can be a highly emotional event
For some neurodivergent students, graduation is often a very emotional day as it marks the end of high school life. There are good-byes to be said to friends and beloved teachers. The worry about what life will be like once high school ends can be overwhelming and cause some young people to feel sometimes paralyzing distress. Parents too can feel emotionally overwhelmed as they observe their child achieve a milestone they might have only dreamed was possible.
For some graduates, their next steps are attending a two or four year college and there may be fears about leaving home, some separation anxiety, or feeling not prepared for college level school work. Other graduates may be looking forward to entering the work world but unsure about how to start the employment process, create a resume, or what a job interview will entail.
And many graduates may have absolutely no idea what they will do after graduation but are trying to cope with parental expectations and pressure to succeed. For those staying local, there may be wistful feelings when seeing peers leave home for new adventures and feeling sad about being left behind.
It is OK to be unsure of future plans
If a graduating senior doesn’t yet know what they want to do after high school, that is okay. Some people will try a few different paths before they truly know where their passions lie. Some seniors are ready to head off to college and others are simply not ready to leave home.
Both parents and seniors can feel immense pressure from their friends and social circles. There are questions after questions. If you are someone who is feeling pressured, there are some thing to keep in mind:
Graduating Seniors are allowed to take time off. Gap years (taking a year off between graduating high school and attending college) are good options for those who need more time. A productive gap year can be achieved by taking a class at the local community college to explore a possible interest, volunteering to explore possible career options, traveling to increase independence, and trying new hobbies that may uncover a hidden passion.
Other people’s opinions do not matter. Other people’s opinions shouldn’t have a great effect on one’s life and how to live it. If asked about the future, it is perfectly fine to say, “You know, I am not exactly sure but I am excited about exploring my options.”
There is no one way to live life. There are many different paths in life which is what makes life so interesting. How wonderful that some people know exactly what they want to do after high school but not everyone does and that is ok.
So after high school graduation, seniors should watch TV or play video games all day? Absolutely not! The only way to discover one’s direction in life is to get out there and try new activities and experiences.
Life after high school graduation is a time of transition. Acknowledge the stress of no longer having a comfortable routine and be open to change.
Advance LA wishes all the graduates joy, happiness, and new adventures!
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services?