Dealing with change after high school

Graduating from high school means everything changes. Are you ready?

Dec 21, 2015

If you’ve ever sat in on one of my Learning Clicks presentations, you’ll probably remember an image of a ship with butterfly sails by my favorite artist, Vladimir Kush. The image is part of a larger painting called Metaphorical Journey (shown below) that I came across when I visited Kush’s studio in Lehaina, Maui, Hawaii. You can see the winged ship at the centre.

Looking to art for change metaphors

Doesn’t this painting look like something out of a dream? It’s painted in the surrealist style inspired by dreaming and the unconscious. Surrealist art like Kush’s sort of functions the way that metaphors do in poetry—drawing comparisons between different things and  highlighting the similarities between them—helping us to understand complex concepts. 

Source: http://www.paragonfineart.com/artists/vladimir-kush.html

I like to think of Kush’s painting as a metaphor for change that can be applied to life after high school. Let’s say you are that ship taking off from the house with the giant blue sail waving in the wind. It appears as though your house is about to sail away itself—suggesting that change is in the air.

That same wind is moving your ship onward in a new direction. You can’t see what’s over the horizon, but you’ve set off on this journey at the mercy of the elements (the clouds, wind, and rain). If you know where you’re going you can navigate through the obstacles and steer a clear course, but if you are uncertain, the waves and the weather will take you adrift on an unforeseen journey.   

Graduating high school means major life changes

In high school when teachers, parents, and others are telling you to start thinking about post-secondary schooling—possibly moving away from home and changing the way you spend your time—you might question why all of this is necessary. See, most people don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable. Changing your habits, your lifestyle, your familiar surroundings—these shifts can be unsettling and sometimes difficult.

But the thing is, just as Kush’s painting illustrates, change is all around us whether we like it or not. Graduating high school means that big changes are headed your way, whether you like it or not. The question is, are you ready for them?

Preparing yourself for change

I’d argue that the best way to deal with change as a fact of life is to embrace it!

Look around you; in what direction are the waves rolling and where is the wind coming from? Where do you need to go? Where do you want to go? Over that horizon is your destination, but since you don’t know what it looks like yet, you can only imagine it.

If big life changes overwhelm you, combat this fear by taking charge and taking responsibility: prepare yourself. You can explore your interests and skill sets by volunteering or working a part-time job, discover career paths you might be interested in by job shadowing or asking adults about their work, surf the web for information on school programs or job prospects, or find other ways to build up some of your skills. Every little step in anticipation of change helps. 

Trust your gut

On the flip side, maybe you’re someone who craves change, like me. When I decided to take a leap of faith and drop out of the Kinesiology program at the University of Lethbridge, my decision was driven by a desire for change. This decision hasn’t come without discomfort, but looking back I don’t regret it. All of my post-secondary learning and adventures have led me to a world that I couldn’t even imagine when I was in high school. I’m glad I trusted my gut and wasn’t afraid to make big changes to chase my dreams.

Our world is constantly shifting, and so are we, so remember that you have the power to seize change and make it work in your favour. If you’re facing a major transition time in your life, like the end of high school, you might be wondering how to deal with such major change. To make the most of this exciting and potentially overwhelming time, I’d suggest that you start by challenging your attitude towards change and learning to embrace it!


University of Lethbridge

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