Anyone else feeling down now that they graduated?


Hello everyone!

I am really having a hard time now that I have graduated from my program. I feel quite down about life in general. I graduated with honors, got my dream job, and saved up money from my financial aid so I can go on a wonderful vacation after I take the NCLEX on the 23rd - but I am still feeling sad.

I just suddenly feel so lonely and isolated, even when I am with people I care about. It is the kind of feeling where a room could be filled with the 100 people I love the most, and it would make me a little happier, but I would still feel alone. I hate this feeling because I start to look at social media and compare myself to others (which is maladaptive, I know). I think that the sudden shift in my life from college, where I was surrounded by friends, to now seeing my friends off for break has been hard. I do have a history of depression, but I am taking my antidepressant and exercising 5 times weekly. This always works, so I am surprised I am not feeling great.

I am thinking about taking my dad to Finding Dory tomorrow for Father's Day, I think the laughs will be good for both of us!

I am writing this because I would love to hear from people who are feeling like me and what is working from them.

Thank you and have a great Father's Day!


158 Posts

To go from deadlines, nonstop studying, stress stress stress, exams, omg exams, excitement of pinning, graduation to not really having much to do can feel like a little bit of a let down. Nursing school is constant stress, now it's over. I think it's sort of like you mentally miss that stress. The feeling goes away, then life settles in :) Congratulations on graduating and good luck on your NCLEX.

springchick1, ADN, RN

1 Article; 1,769 Posts

I felt the same way. I was so glad to be finished but it was also this huge emotional let down. You don't have the deadlines, the stress of studying for test, you don't see your friends everyday anymore. Once you take boards and start working, it will change. You will have a new kind of stress and will be focusing on learning all that your job requires of you. Hang in there!


9 Posts

Thank you guys! I am definitely looking forward to the future!

Specializes in Telemetry, Primary Care. Has 8 years experience.
To go from deadlines, nonstop studying, stress stress stress, exams, omg exams, excitement of pinning, graduation to not really having much to do can feel like a little bit of a let down. Nursing school is constant stress, now it's over. I think it's sort of like you mentally miss that stress. The feeling goes away, then life settles in :) Congratulations on graduating and good luck on your NCLEX.

So true! I was still waking up at 5:30 am each morning thinking it was Monday, exam day the first few weeks after school ended. Overall, all the feelings wore off. For me though, I wasn't really sad, more like bored. Then I got back into netflix and binged watched all TV shows I missed over the 2 yeras and new ones, no joke lol.

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

I feel a little adrift, too. I'm in the same situation -- graduated with awesome honors, got my dream job and am two shifts away from heading out for a nice vacation. And yet, it feels a little hollow. But, I thoroughly expect that to feel better. I'm just bad at adjusting to change.

Has 29 years experience.

I can't relate. I was too busy laughing hysterically and burning my books. It will pass.

Specializes in Hospitalist Medicine. Has 8 years experience.

When I graduated last year, I felt like a fish out of water with no homework looming over my head. It's a bit of a lifestyle adjustment. You do need to break to decompress from the stress. It hit me even harder after I passed NCLEX because I had nothing left to study for.

I had a month off before I started my job and I'm glad I had that time off.

Now that I'm back in school for the BSN, I miss having all that free time!


2 Posts

YES!! I wasn't even that happy throughout nursing school, but literally since the day after pinning EVERYTHING in my life has changed. I'm living out of boxes in a new state, husband is away for 2 months for work, feeling very uncertain about my ability to focus to pass the NCLEX (also on the 23rd), and going through interviews. When I start to look back at the worst semesters of nursing school as "the good old times" I just try to think positively and look ahead and know that this period will also pass. If it helps to know that you are not alone on this feeling I hope this thread has helped!!

Specializes in ICU.

I didn't get any time off. I graduated May 12th, worked several days the next week, then started full time the 22nd. I'm looking to take a trip maybe in October.

I guess to me, it's a huge sense of relief to not have crap due!!! No tests, quizzes, papers, care plans........ I was so over it......

I like just going to work and coming home to my family. Maybe I'm weird????


4 Posts

Specializes in ED; MICU. Has 3 years experience.

Hey, fam. I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling down. I think it's totally normal to feel down after finishing something as immersive as nursing school. I know that I felt the exact same way when I finished. (I also have depression and additionally I'm super, super introverted.)

My number one suggestion is to stop looking at social media sites like Facebook and unfollow/unfriend people who make you unhappy. That's what I did. I got so discouraged when people got jobs before me and got engaged because nursing school was over and announced pregnancies. Checking Facebook made me feel really alone and isolated. So I took Facebook and Instagram off my phone. I kept Snapchat and WhatsApp (and Tumblr but I didn't follow anyone I knew on that one) so I could share stuff from my life/keep up with friends. But I stopped looking at other people's lives; it was stealing my joy.

Because here's the thing: one of my former classmates has an infant daughter and a handsome carpenter husband and the cutest house you ever saw with chickens and a shaggy dog. She and her family went on a trip and she posted these lovely pictures of her perfect family with a message about how much she loves her husband. I was so sad and, I'm not going to lie, a little bit jealous (I know, I'm a terrible person.) When she returned, she came to one of my study sessions and ranted about how terrible her husband had been during their trip--he was rude to her family and refused to participate in activities because her mama wouldn't take time off from work to watch the baby. And that was when I really realized that we only see a snapshot of people's lives through social media. We don't see the husband stalk off to sulk and the baby wet herself and the coworker feel like she's a failure as a wife and a mother and a daughter. I'd heard people say that what's on social media isn't real before but I didn't really understand it on a visceral level until that moment. That's when I decided to stop checking Facebook (now I check it like once a month or whenever my calendar says it's someone's birthday.)

So lay off on the social media. (If you feel you have to tell people something, tell them that you're focusing on the NCLEX and Instagram/Facebook/whatever is too big of a time waster for you.)

But for a positive contribution: try meet ups! I started going to a foreign language one when I was studying for the NCLEX and it was really helpful for getting my mind off things. Also it only cost the price of a drink at a local cafe, which was good because I was broke.

Contact people you want to hang out with from school. You might think that they are too cool or too smart or too whatever to hang out with you but it's surprising how many people feel lonely and are looking for friends.

Form a NCLEX study group. I studied for the NCLEX with a bunch of classmates and I'd make an open ended plan like, I'll be at the Panera at this mall from noon to five. That way people don't have to commit to a certain time and they can stay as long as they want/need to. People would intermittently drop in. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for 30 minutes while their kids were being tutored down the street. And if no one showed, I still got a lot of studying done.

Self care. Going to a movie with your dad is a great idea. Do your nails/get them done because this might be the last time for awhile that they're really nice (assuming that you're into that sort of thing! I just realized that I know nothing about your gender identity so sorry if I've got you wrong.) Listen to your favorite music. Watch a favorite TV show (something that isn't taxing like Psych or House Hunters International.) Eat when you are hungry and try to get a veggie or two in if you can. Meditate or pray or whatever. Drink lots of water. Shower at least every two days. Clean your living space. Brush your teeth at least once a day (twice would be great but do what you can.) If these suggestions seem rudimentary, I'd suggest making a self-care plan. You'll probably need one at some point in your career, so now's a great time to make one. (Basically, you identify the things that help relax you and comfort you and when you're stressed or depressed in the future, you can refer to it for help. The University of Buffalo School of Social Work has some good resources.)

Plan for your future/set some goals. Look into certifications for your specialty. Look at super expensive stethoscopes. If you have to buy your own scrubs, look at scrubs. If they provide scrubs, look for cute shirts to put under them (they can be hard to find this time of year). Look at all the advanced practice options available to you and if you like one, start researching it. Start looking at ACLS algorithms (if you're working in an area where you need them.) Make a budget like with Mint, if you don't already have one; dream about all the bills you'll be able to pay with that big nursing paycheck!

Write some thank you notes. I know you've already got a job but at some point you might want a second job or you might want to change jobs. Write notes/emails/texts to your clinical instructors and any staff nurses you worked with who gave you their contact info. You never know when someone might be useful so keep those channels open.

Look for volunteer opportunities. I started volunteering at an animal shelter while I was studying for the NCLEX. Walking wiggly puppies was so relaxing and therapeutic.

I don't do this because I don't like competition (got kicked off a soccer team when I was five for repeatedly sharing the ball with the other team) but one of my friends joined a recreational soccer league and another plays on an adult volleyball team and a coworker does roller derby. So those might be good if you like team stuff/want to meet some new people.

Anyway, this is probably too long and not very useful but this is what I did to get through that awkward period between nursing school and starting my first nursing job. Best of luck on the NCLEX and the new job! I'm hoping for nothing but the best for you!


527 Posts

I know exactly hoe you feel, I feel exactly the same way, I will be going for vacation next month so hopefully I will feel better. I'm also hoping to get a job in the late summer or early fall so that I have a break to sort things out. Maybe you could take some time off to sort things out before you start you new job. Please do not compare yourself to what you see on social media, people tend to show only the good things about themselves.