Photo by Pang Yuhao / Unsplash

This Thing Called "Graduation Crisis"

Career Sep 17, 2022

We've all had that moment where the unstoppable passage of time caught up with us. With the pandemic skewing our perception of time beyond compare and the future looking bleaker than ever, even the thought of the days to come can make us start to panic. And there's one time in life when all these worries can snowball into a deep, looming terror when the mist begins to part and everything seems to spiral out of control: right before graduating secondary school.

Being in your final year of secondary school will have you teetering at the cliff's edge of adulthood, with deadlines, responsibilities and pressure closing in on you at every turn. You'll be expected to act like an adult without reaping the benefits of actually being one. Some people will tell you growing up will be freeing, and some will say it saddles you with spine-crushing burdens. You don't know who to believe or what to do, not when the outcomes are endless. You don't know if the feeling will ever end.

This is what I like to call a "graduation crisis", an ongoing dilemma plaguing every day of those teenagers just about to enter the "real world". Year thirteen, twelfth grade, form six; whatever it's called, graduation crisis is bound to follow. It's difficult to deal with when it's the result of so many sources of stress, but it's still possible to cope with it and look to the future without fear.

The unfortunate truth is that there's no way to be fully prepared for the future, no matter how hard you try. But there are ways to make sure you have an easier time becoming an adult. Learning how to invest your money, figure out how exactly one finds a place to live on their own or how to do chores effectively and efficiently are all crucial in the complex art of "adult-ing". Higher education and getting an actual job will be gruelling, but knowing how to whip up a quick meal without making a mess or returning home to a clean and organised living space will make things a little better. Don't be afraid to make stupid Google searches: chances are, you're not the first person with questions about being a proper grown-up, and there are plenty of people willing to help you out.

There seems to be a belief that you lose the ability to feel happiness the moment you turn thirty, after which you become a joyless being who lives only to file your taxes and pay your bills. It's easy to think this way when just being seventeen or eighteen is already so daunting. But inter-generational friendships can dispel this myth as well as give you some certainty for the future. With the help of social media or just stepping outside your comfort zone, striking up a friendly conversation with an adult who shares your interests will definitely make you see growing older in a different light. Whether it's through popular media or a common hobby, connecting with people older than you provides a unique perspective on adulthood that you might not have encountered before. They might even have some words of advice on studying at university or applying for your first job.

Above all, if you've already done all you can, remember to take time to breathe. You will be an adult, but put some emphasis on the word "will". For now, let loose (within reason, of course) and tick some items off your bucket list. Make some final memories with friends and families, especially if you'll be going overseas for university, but don't mourn your childhood. It'll never truly be gone from you, and your inner child will always be with you no matter how many years pass.

Growing up is absolutely terrifying: there's so much to do, so much you're suddenly in control of. Despite that, never forget that nobody becomes an adult knowing everything there is to know about the world, and you shouldn't expect that for yourself. Just read your spirits and steer your boat the best you can.


Ingrid Wong

Writer, poet and harpist - I exist on Twitter as @seaviolets