Graduation plays a powerful part in so many people’s lives. For those who have experienced it, it’s a point of pride.
For those who will, it’s a promise.
When one thinks of graduation, the first thing that comes to mind is likely visions of diplomas and caps being tossed into the sky. Movies love to portray this occasion so distinctly that they’ve defined everyone’s expectations of the “perfect” graduation ceremony.
For the most part, yes, graduations do involve a lot of cheering, a lot of triumph, and a lot of tossing items with reckless abandon. And, hey, graduates have earned the right to do so.
But graduation also brings about a flood of emotions. Some good, some bad, but all of them confusing.
Ups and Downs of Graduation
It’s Celebration Time
- I made it. You just finished a huge chapter of your life—one that was fraught with challenges at every turn. That pride you’re feeling is well-deserved.
- I’m stronger than I thought. School can be overwhelming, but you made it in one piece and you never gave up.
- It’s a new chapter. You’re about to step into a completely new stage of your life—one where you are defined by more than the letters on a report card.
So, What Now?
- What does the future hold? For some, the future is a bright, promising light on the edge of the horizon. For others, it’s a hint of brightness at the end of a twisting, dimly lit path. What is life after graduation? It’s both opportunity and unknown.
- It’s too big a change. Maybe you’re not ready to leave school behind yet. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is a lot like popping your personal bubble. That’s much easier said than done.
- What if I don’t make it? Fear of failure. No matter how old you are, this fear is always present—and always valid.
In a 2019 Medium article, entrepreneur and growth executive Ted Gonder shares his experiences—and revelations—regarding life after graduation.
He states how different reality was after graduation, especially when juxtaposed against his expectations. He admits to wanting to tell his younger self some of the insights he’s picked up since then, if given the chance.
One of these is the importance of managing our own psychology. By understanding human nature and learning useful mental exercises to calm our nerves and avoid entertaining unnecessary concerns, we’ll be better equipped to handle the “real world.”
We can learn how to step outside ourselves, take on different perspectives, and weigh options objectively. This, in turn, will help us accept scenarios as they are, not as we perceive them to be.
In other words, don’t be afraid of being afraid. Don’t feel guilty for feeling excitement. The future you’re either fearful of or excited for is your future, so you’re allowed to feel whatever you want. If you’re buzzing with positive anticipation, good. You should be.
You’re a fresh graduate—the world is yours for the taking. If you’re anxious or nervous, also good. That’s normal. It means you’ll be cautious about every step you take.
Still not convinced that your feelings are valid? Maybe these graduation quotes will help:
Inspirational Graduation Quotes
- “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam
- “My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small and that you never need to carry more than you can hold.” – Rascal Flatts
- “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford
- “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future.” – Plato
- “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
- “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
- “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” – Henry Ford
- “The unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective.” – Jon Stewart
- “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
- “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius
- “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
- “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye.” – Helen Keller
- “Sometimes you find out what you are supposed to be doing by doing the things you are not supposed to do.” – Oprah
- “Life is an improvisation. You have no ideas what’s going to happen next and you are mostly making things up as you go along.” – Stephen Colbert
- “Your life is your story, and the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.” – Kerry Washington
- “The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.” – Dale Carnegie
- Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
- “We do not need magic to change the world, we can carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.” – J.K. Rowling
- “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” – Jim Carrey
- “Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.” – Ellen DeGeneres
- “As you set off into the world, don’t be afraid to question your leaders. But don’t ask too many questions at one time or that are too hard, because your leaders will get tired and/or cranky.” – Will Ferrell
- “It’s always a good move to listen to that inner voice…if it doesn’t lead to a crime.” – Lisa Kudrow
- “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
- “Always be the first-rate version of yourself, instead of the second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland
- “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde
- “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.” – Barack Obama
- “Be willing to embrace wonder, to experience unexpected discovery, and to go in unknown directions… Never become so enamored of your own smarts that you stop signing up for life’s hard classes.” – Melissa Harris-Perry
- “Live all of your life. Understand it, see it, appreciate it. And have fun.” – Joss Whedon
- “Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes…but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.” – George Saunders
- “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Michelle Obama
- “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling
- “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
- “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.” – Mark Twain
- “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
- “Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings.” – Dali
- “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings
- “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” – Francis Bacon
- “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” – Woody Allen
- “There are no regrets in life, just lessons.” – Jennifer Aniston
- “The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.” – Maya Angelou
- “Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.” – Leonardo da Vinci
- “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle
- “Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napoleon Hill
- “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts
- “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
- “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – Jackson Brown Jr.
- “Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” – Les Brown
- “Your life is your story, and the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.” – Kerry Washington
- “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Gandhi
- “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
- “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
- “All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
- “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – J.K. Rowling
- “My favorite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out. There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them.” – Ruth Westheimer
- “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.” – Ella Fitzgerald
- “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell
- “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver
- “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
- “Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vintage point.” – Harold B. Melchart
- “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” – Muhammad Ali
- “A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that “individuality” is the key to success.” – Robert Orben
- “We were nostalgic for a time that wasn’t yet over.” – Nina LaCour
- “Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” – Jim Carrey
- “Coach said ‘the quality of a man’s life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor’.” – Sherman Alexie
- “I’ve told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
- “Just because you don’t know what you want yet, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to want.” – Emily Henry
- “Just about a month from now I’m set adrift, with a diploma for a sail and lots of nerve for oars.” – Richard Halliburton
- “Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer.” – David McCullough Jr.
- “The road may be rough, the journey may be tough and the experience may be bitter, but they are stepping stones to our future thrones.” – Bamigboye Olurotimi
- “You won’t be able to do this ten years from now – just leave everything behind and go.” – Rachel Kapelke-Dale
- “My name had lost its ring of familiarity and I had to be nudged to go and receive my diploma.” – Maya Angelou
- “But I made it. And for some reason, I’m not worried about my job prospects. I truly believe I will be okay.” – Katherine Reay
- “If you graduated from higher education, you should feel proud and not allow your grades to define who you are. Regardless of your cumulative GPA, you will always have opportunities to find a career that suits your skills and interests.” – Saaif Alam
- “Be careful who you call crazy. Some of us think it’s a compliment.” – Marilynn Dawson