What an odd phrase – “turning over a new leaf.” I suppose the cliché stems from (necessary pun) the idea that leaves grow and fall, with new life always growing after them. I think that in times of change, any analogy we can relate to with others makes us feel normal.
There are many times where we get this energy inside that tells us it is the perfect time to ‘turn over a new leaf’; The first of the month, the first of the year, a birthday, a move to a new city, a new job, or the ever-so-relevant reality of graduating. It seems that every four years in my life so far I have become the ‘freshman’, for lack of better word. Now, I am proud and empowered because I am a woman with a college education soon to be entering the work force. Here are some struggles I have faced in this emotional last month of a new leaf, and my advice.
1. Be Happy for Others
It can be very frustrating to watch those close to you succeed while you are still finding your way. The constant news feed of “I am excited to announce that…” or “I have officially accepted…” is a natural irritant when we have not had the confirmation to boast of landing our next step. I had my moments where I felt irritated, but not for long. I know my values and personality have me naturally fueled with love and excitement for those around me who succeed. Tell your friends and family congratulations as they move forward, because your time will come – and in any situation, putting others down will never lift you up. So, shoutout to my boyfriend who is on his way to Boston/Northeastern University, and my sisters and close friends who are moving on to their dream schools and careers – I am so genuinely happy for you.
2. Be Proactive
“Dreams don’t work unless you do”, said John C. Maxwell. This is undeniably true. In college, I was (yes, very hard for me to write was) very involved in multiple organizations and leadership roles, while ending with an overall 3.54 GPA – but that did not mean I automatically had a job waiting for me the Monday after graduation. I am currently in the job search process and have nothing to complain about. Job interviews teach me so much about myself, and actually serve as a great way to reflect on all that I have accomplished. If you do not get in to your dream graduate school, your next leadership role, your dream job, etc. just take on the next opportunity.
3. Perform Mitzvahs!
Translation: Express acts of human kindness.
This past week, I was busy running errands on my last full day in Tampa, frustrated at having so much to do with so little time. As I was heading to my car to complete the next thing on my list, I was spotted by a mother, father and daughter visiting USF in Greek Village. They approached me and said they were visiting from South Florida and that their daughter was interested in USF and Greek life. They then asked if it was possible to see a sorority house. I was their perfect match: From South Florida, huge advocate for Greek Life, and also the current Community Manager for my house. Their daughter is currently at my high school alma mater! Anyways, I showed them our home and poured my heart out about Greek life, leadership, friendships and absolutely everything else I could stress about how amazing my university is. At the end of our ‘tour’ the mother said, “you completed a mitzvah today!” and gave me a hug. They had given me that final closure I needed before making my drive home from USF, and I thank them.
4. READ A BOOK. AN ACTUAL BOOK. WITH PAGES.
My dad and I recently reflected on how incredible a bookstore can be – from the smell of books to the excitement of buying one. My new read is Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and a founder of the organization Lean In. The book is perfect for me because Sheryl Sandberg is an idol as she empowers women to lead regardless of stereotypes, barriers and challenges. I look forward to the inspiration I will gain from this book. Other books that have helped me in the past include The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, For One More Day by Mitch Albom, and Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS).
Here is a plug for Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk, “Why we have too few women leaders”, which intrigued my interest to read her book.
5. Enjoy being home
I am currently spending time at home until I am 100% sure of where I am going next, and very thankful for that. Wherever your home is or whoever it is with, embrace it. I am blessed to be able to go back to the same house that I grew up in, surrounded by a loving mother, father, sister… and a silly puppy…and two very interesting cats. My dad joked that I would wake up my first morning at home and realize my entire college experience was all a dream. Fortunately, I did actually graduate from college. My family has supported me wholeheartedly and are there for me every step of the way. I will miss the crazy moments in my sorority house, the late night college outings and other countless memories. However, home is where the heart is . . . and plenty of old photographs to enjoy.
A Hopeful Graduate,