May 22, 2013

10 Things I Learned the Year After I Graduated from College. ~ Amy Cammel

Photo: Michael Niemand

It’s been one year since I graduated, and I have learned more in that year than in all four years at college.

It’s been one year since I put on that cap and gown and army crawled to the stadium for graduation with everyone else that stayed out celebrating too late the night before.

It’s been 12 months of relationships ending and new ones forming—12 months of some relationships going sour and others growing stronger.

It’s been 52.17 weeks spent wishing upon stars, embracing and hiding from the world and writing anything and everything—and not having anyone telling me what size font to write it in.

It’s been 365.242 days of crunching leaves beneath my boots, dog walking and crafting clever ways to combat the dreaded, “So what are you doing with your life now?” interrogations.

It’s been one year since I graduated college, and if you want to get a clearer picture just imagine “reality” sucker punching me in the gut around every corner, or maybe a mile high giant picking me up to see the ends of the earth and then dropping me face down in the sludge. This year obliterated everything I had thought to be real.

So I decided to do something for myself to celebrate the fact that I was still alive a year later and leave my hometown for good. With that one action I have propelled myself into the scary unknown abyss known as “adulthood.”

The beginning of this adventure has only commenced because of the end of another. It has been an adventure of recovery and reflection that has resulted in countless revelations.

It’s been one year since I graduated, and I have learned more in that year than in all four years at college.

1. Follow your heart.

As cheesy as it sounds, this has been one of the hardest lessons I have learned and am still learning. It was difficult to take a stand for my heart when everyone else’s heartbeat was drowning out my own. Once I started listening, it started speaking up more often and continues to get louder and louder every time.

2. Make the most of now.

Realizing that my life would never be perfect or anything close to what I had imagined brought with it a choice. The choice is not in how I can manipulate what I have to make me happy. The choice is how I view what I have. Sure, 15 minutes have gone by and my mother is still nagging me about the same thing, but I’m going to appreciate this sunshine warming my skin and the sound of her voice right now. One day this will be a cherished memory.

3. Meditation is key.

Meditation has saved my life. It’s saved my mind. It has given me a healthy way to get through all of the soul crushing events and encounters that one can’t help but experience in adult life. Meditation brings stillness to the soul. It centers and connects every facet of being to notice peace even in the midst of a storm. Just remember to breathe—and breathe deeply.

4. Do things that keep you moving.

Physical movement is one of the quickest, most effective ways to release negative energy, reconnect with one’s natural self and renew the mind. If you only have a few minutes to do some sun salutations or take a quick walk in a garden instead of watching another episode of reality television, I promise you will feel much more accomplished and grounded.

5. The future isn’t real.

As someone who struggles with anxiety and stress, this statement has become a lifesaving mantra. Once I started realizing the truth behind it, I began to notice how much time and energy I had wasted on stressing out over made up scenarios. I realized that the majority of these thoughts never materialized and I can instead use that energy for making the most of now.

6. Accept the past.

I am the “me” I am because of it and you are the “you” you are because of yours. Accept the good and the bad, embrace what’s needed, let go of what’s not needed and move forward, fully embracing the gift of life!

7. Life rewards the brave.

Sometimes we win and get what we want and sometimes we receive rewards from the lessons we learn from “failures.” In the end, as long as you push yourself to get up, be the best you can be and make the most of what you have, life will be rewarding!

8. Surround yourself with people of similar values.

We encounter many different people throughout our lives. It is important to have a stable support base of people with similar values so when life gets chaotic we have someone to help guide us through the struggle.

9. Take your time.

Along with, “Good things come to those who wait,” “Patience is a virtue,” and “Nothing good comes easy,” this saying has helped me understand the importance of walking slowly and enjoying the travel as much as reaching the destination.

10. You determine your own success.

No one knows another’s struggle. Maybe it took more effort for the woman standing in line to get out of her house due to her crippling depression than it took the confident businessman to give a speech in front of his coworkers. If I were to compare my life to others’ to determine my level of success, I would always feel like a failure. I know everything I went through to get where I am and feel successful enough to continue to climb and reach my potential.

I’ve learned quite a bit in four years of studying at a university, but nothing will compare to the lessons I’ve learned in the first year I’ve been out on my own braving the world and all its obstacles. With one year down and many more to go, I venture forth, gaining sturdier and lengthier strides. I hope my thoughts and revelations have provided some insight into a healthier, happier and brighter tomorrow!


Amy Cammel is a lover. She loves tree bark and wilting flower petals, Pitt bulls and guinea pigs, hula-hooping and beaches, enlightening conversations and gripping poetry. She loves dancing ‘til she drops and astrologically focused star-gazing, her family and friends, anything and everything to do with art, performance and writing, meeting new people and traveling to new places. And she especially loves sharing her insight and helping people in any way she can.


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~Assistant Ed: Thandiwe Ogbonna

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