Senior student athlete offers graduation prep advice

By Morgan Davenport, Contributing Writer

It’s happened to most of us: you’re sitting in class, supposed to be taking notes (but you’re actually doodling what resembles a dragon eating a donut) when something slams into you like a Greyhound bus.

You can’t quite put your finger on it because it’s not one single feeling. It is a cacophony of insecurity and uncertainty.

Thoughts about how you could’ve tried a little harder for that ‘A’ in sophomore chemistry, about how much you’re going to have to make yourself work to keep your athlete-bod, about your lack of funds–heck you don’t even know how you’re paying for dinner–run through your head. You think about your friends and parents and what in the world you’re going to do without them.

I like to call this phenomenon  Pre-Post-Grad-Depression or PPGD for short. It’s kind of like high school’s senioritis, but without parents, a home and a stable future. You are a college athlete about to leave the safe cacoon of familiarity and purpose.

So how does one navigate this maze of insecurity and mental chaos? You have several options, but the most logical approaches are as follows:

1. KNOW YOUR WORTH

As you probably know by this point in life, nothing is guaranteed, and it appears everyone has a judgment about your future plans (or lack thereof).

It seems like you have to be accepted anywhere you go–graduate school, new job, even the baristas in your coffee shop seem a little bit judgy. Now, if you’re not into the grad school thing, you’ve already ruled out one judgment, but it’s not over. You still need to synthesize all you’ve learned into a future– a future that may not involve early morning practice and your teammates; that can be unsettling.

I’ve heard many people praise collegiate athletes on graduating and how much playing a varsity sport in college helps out your resume.

I’d like to believe that’s true; I hear people ask things like, “what distinguishes us from those who worked just as hard to earn their degree? How is a student athlete graduate different?”

I hope I won’t be the first to tell you that my athletic status will not earn me a job. But it might have sharpened my discipline and attention a bit.

My college basketball career may guarantee anything–but I would hope that all of my qualifications and achievements will earn me any position for which I’ve applied. There are more to athletes than athletic ability, but know that ability will serve you in the future in other ways.

2. TALK ABOUT IT!

Pre-post-grad life is crazy- tears, sleepless nights (hungry sleepless nights at that), more tears (trust me, if you don’t cry at least five times, you might be a pet-rock).Know that you’re not alone- countless others have gone before you and succeeded. Why can’t we?

3. STAY HEALTHY

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to work out extra hardcore because you lack strict self-discipline, but it’s nothing you haven’t done your whole life.

You won’t be able to eat what you could in-season–no more French fries and chocolate shakes whenever you want (trust me, this is the worst part).

4. DO SOMETHING NEW

Health isn’t just physical. Take care of your brain–find something new to do; try new things daily. Try journaling, cycling, adopting a dog (or 19 dogs).

Don’t be so hard on yourself! Who knows–maybe your new hobbies lead to new friends. All of this is easier said than done, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

It’s okay to see a counselor (athletes and the “mental toughness” complex is a completely separate article).

5. DON’T DWELL

It’s nice to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” every once in a while, but when that’s how you spend your alone time…you’re punishing yourself.

Make new memories.

It’s completely normal to freak out more often as you draw nearer to graduation.

Remember that your athletic status does not define you.

Create yourself. You have the ability to decide who you will be–own that.

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