Graduand is such a funny word. If you use it you’ll most likely be asked “a what?!”. You see most people think you’re either a student or a graduate. A definite divide. A clean cut between the life of studying, late nights, messy houses and having all your friends within a mile radius of your house; and “the real world”, work, bills, responsibilities, career trajectories and “settling down”.
The bit in between, I’d like to argue, is the most important bit of all.
You see, from where I stand, the phase of being a “graduand” captures the idea that we – as not yet graduates and not quite figured out adults – are in transition. In many ways we are “not yets”. We are “not yet” sure about our plans and careers; we are “not yet” sure who we’ll end up living with (or where for that matter); we are “not yet” sure who we will be, in the new re-inventing stage of our lives and we are “not yet” ok with the vast uncertainty ahead.
The life of a Graduand is full of coming to terms with all of this, and learning to be ok with the endless choices and unknowns down the road. This precious stage is just before responsibility set in and just before any plans fall in place. But this phase, I’d argue, doesn’t end once we have a piece of paper in our hands and graduate.
The unique aspects of a Graduand are not unique at all. Yet, we try to mark out a clear space for uncertainty and decision-making, this in fact will recur in our lives time and time again. Moving house, changing job, getting married, moving house again, deciding whether or not to have children, changing job again…
What does make the life of a Graduand unique is that for many of us this is the first time the doors of choice and opportunity are flung wide open in front of our faces. The choices can be crippling, but I want to urge you of a truth that may help with the decision-overload induced paralysis.
It is not WHAT decision you do or don’t make in these coming months, that will make your future great or mediocre. It is WHO you decide to become in this phase of life, which determines something so much greater that any job title, address or relationship status could ever achieve.
As I calm my anxiousness and get to grips with simply not knowing, I am deciding who I will be. I am not becoming that best version of myself overnight, but I am deciding what the rest of my life will make me.
I am deciding that, however I choose to live, I want to become more wise and open-minded. I am choosing to let my decisions shape me into a bolder and braver person. I am deciding that I want every aspect of my life to honour God and grow my relationship with Jesus. I am praying that no decision I make will be purely based on material possessions or money. I am deciding that no matter how busy I become, I will be someone who is loyal to my friends and family – learning to be generous with my time even when it costs me.
Before you get bombarded with job applications, gap year plans and bills – prioritise giving time to decide WHO you want to become.
Let the phase of Graduand be a time to reflect, take check and look forward. Let it be a time to find peace with the unknowns and to discover what kind of person we want our decisions to reflect. Before the busyness kicks in, decide your priorities – they will shape who you are and what life you live. And, even if you have never done so before, I’d encourage you to pray – God has a lot to say on who he made us to be.
Let’s not get caught up in the motions.
Let’s decide to be generous, brave and smart – whatever our job description becomes.