Adulting 101

Adjusting to Change

More stories from Melanie Walleser

For the graduating seniors at UW-Eau Claire, the upcoming month of May means facing one of the most significant transitions in life: going from being a student to an adult in the working world.

“There’s certainly no one-size fits-all approach about dealing with stress,” Riley McGrath, a licensed psychologist and director of counseling services at UW-Eau Claire, said. “The overall bigger picture is to make sure you take care of yourself.”

Students should keep in mind all the coping skills they already have to prepare for their transition into adulthood, McGrath said.

“Sometimes we just have one goal in mind — graduating — and, once we accomplish it, we forget all the hard work we did to get there,” McGrath said. “You have that work ethic, resiliency, coping skills and all those things you had before. Don’t forget that, and don’t just leave them in Eau Claire, bring them with you.”

Taylor Pomasl, a fourth-year journalism student, is graduating this May. Pomasl said she’s excited to put what she’s learned to the test at her new job at WMTV, but she’s also nervous about adulthood.

“I’m really excited to go out in the real world and put everything I’ve learned to the test,” Pomasl said. “This is definitely a huge moment of me kind of stepping into my big girl shoes. I’m just really getting out from under my parents wing and starting my own path.”

While Pomasl said she is excited to get out into the real world, many graduates are stressed about choosing their next path in life. Post-commencement stress disorder is a condition emerging from new graduates’ anxiety and stress from transitioning beyond the protective bubble of their college campus, according to Psychology Today.

McGrath said he advises graduating seniors to ask friends and family for help.

“Adulting is hard, but everyone is capable of it,” McGrath said. “While a lot of it is learning on the job another part of it is using your support network. Talk to friends and family, ask them how they got through it. They’ll help you so you’re not going into it totally unprepared.”

Jessica Meyen, a fourth-year journalism student who is also graduating in May, said change and the unknown is a little scary for her.

“I’ve gotten so comfortable with my student life in Eau Claire,” Meyen said. “Change is always a little scary. I’m a little nervous about joining the real world.”

Utilizing your peer support and maintaining the support group you’ve already made is essential McGrath said. Embracing ambiguity are an important part of any change or transition in life.

“Be okay with ambiguity and not knowing what’s next, even though it’s scary,” McGrath said. “Any transition in your life is going to be difficult, but most things that are exciting and fun are also stressful.”

Confidence is key to success in the real world, McGrath said.

“College is difficult but everyone’s figuring out ways to succeed,” McGrath said. “Being able to have that confidence to know you made it through college so you can make it through this too. You’re certainly resilient if you’ve made it this far.”

Walleser can be reached at [email protected].