Only a few years ago, our lives seemed much simpler. There was less schoolwork, we may not have had a job, and the only worry was winning the next big game or preparing for the high school prom. It seems as though the second that we happened to close our eyes, this simplicity vanished.

The next time we opened our eyes, it was the first day of college. Naturally, we were nervous about our first real experience away from mom and dad. We were hesitant about who to start a conversation with and open up to, and could not quite picture where we may end up after our undergrad years. There was much more expectation; there was more schoolwork, more requirements for success, and no clear answer as to what the benefit of an expensive piece of paper could be.

For some, college was not the answer. We watched many of our peers resign from school and turn their sails toward other opportunities in the workforce. We lost contact with some of these people and never heard from them again. The final time we closed our eyes, four years passed and were followed by the last day of our collegiate journey.

As we stood in line awaiting the announcement of our names and recognition of our successes, we reflected on how quickly the transition from high school to adulthood happened. Our parents were right, time really does pass more quickly when we get older. It was as if the time between high school and our first job had happened almost instantaneously. The seemingly unbearable workload that we had during school was finally complete, and it felt like a weight had been lifted from our shoulders, but shortly after, replaced by a new, yet pleasant weight.

Finishing school is difficult. It carries a lot of excitement initially, but the realization that some of the closest people in our lives may end up thousands of miles away can be overwhelming. Juggling reality with what we thought-would-be is too often a setback for many, but can be used as a spark in igniting a completely new realm of opportunity. Personally, I concluded my senior year with the fresh energy and education to conquer the professional work landscape at full bore. Two months after graduation, I received the best news of my life, as I had been offered a position as a communications specialist with a healthcare system in Montana—why did I apply in Montana you ask? Why not? I had applied for over 175 different positions throughout the United States and fell in love with the region and its culture, which encouraged me to seek employment opportunities in such a place.

I had the world at my fingertips after graduating, and so do you. To upcoming or current seniors, or even people who are fresh out of school like myself, use this time to your advantage. Use our time as youth as an opportunity to be whatever and whoever you want to be. Life is a wonderful thing but passes in the blink of an eye.