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Published on January 24th, 2017 | by Danika Thiele

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Outside the Florida Southern Comfort Zone

A double-lined rope separated me from my dad.

We stood at the Love Field airport in Dallas, Texas, on different sides of the security checkpoint. We were headed in opposite directions. My dad went through security and boarded his plane back to the Sunshine State while I somberly strode back to my car, unexplained and uncontrollable tears rolling down my cheeks.

Sitting in my Camry I let my forehead gently hit the steering wheel as I sobbed. A few long, heavy breaths later I was driving my car to the roof of the garage, planes passing low overhead. I scoured the sky for a red, orange and blue striped Southwest aircraft.

The day before I had been walking the city with my three roommates when Schelly pointed to the sky, a brightly colored aircraft passing overhead. It was visible periodically, ducking in and out of view blocked by the heavy skyscrapers and business buildings of downtown Dallas’ skyline.

“That’s one of our planes!” Schelly said. A deep sense of pride welled inside me, in addition to a jolt of fear and recognition.

I am very far from Lakeland.

My world at Florida Southern College revolved almost completely around seeing friends at Tutu’s, the next campus event and the new restaurant opening downtown.

Students at FSC often become overly involved, trapped inside an acute oasis of nuclear friends, colleagues and collegiate life. This happened to me, and I’m glad it did, but it caused me to spiral into an unforeseen depression.

The post-college transition can be rocky. Some people find jobs in their field, some go on to graduate school, while some find work retail. I left mid-year, right before my last semester, prematurely bidding farewell to the closest friends I’ve ever had to pursue an internship with Southwest Airlines.

Now an entire world has been suddenly opened up to me. I have access to so much more than Lakeland could ever offer, yet a part of me stays behind in central Florida.

Experts describe this as post-college depression. College is a self-affirming time to find oneself, but once that time is over what does a post-college graduate do?

When these golden years come to an end, there is the very real issue of “real life” and a daunting “quarter life crisis” encroaches.

An uprooted life means there is chance to start over, but making that initial step can cause insecurity and doubt. Mental Health Daily lists the effects of post-college depression as addiction, confusion, fear, loneliness and joblessness.

Although schoolwork and collegiate life bear down on students, these pressures also create a regimen that adults become used to and comfortable with. Take that comfort away and many people lose touch with reality, goals and sights for the future.

The Muse puts a quarter-life crisis as “a period of intense soul-searching and stress occurring in your mid 20s to early 30s,” typically because adults feel they are not achieving their full potential or are falling behind.

The quarter-life crisis affects 80 percent of millennials, according to The Guardian. These millennials report being bogged down by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness, and depression.

As collegiate comforts are exhausted, many students are left with intense life contemplation that can ultimately spark positive or negative change. To some, the lack of responsibilities is daunting. To others, graduating from college is liberation.

“It felt like the world was at my fingertips after I graduated,” FSC alumni Claire Frost said. “I have so much more responsibility now than what I’m used to but I also have less than I probably ever will have again. I’m gonna take advantage of that.”

It seems the only way to overcome post-college depression is to dive in and take risks. Meeting new people, being social, setting goals and focusing on the present can all help post-graduate adults tap into their new identity as a college graduate.

Related Articles:

How to overcome your quarter life crisis

This is what your quarter life crisis is telling you

Quarter life crisis: young, insecure, depressed

Six ways to turn your quarter life crisis around in 2017

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