From Student To Grad: Surviving The Transition

As of November 17th, 2016, I am no longer in an institution for the first time in 18 years (Yes, I am counting my three-day week at preschool from age three to five, where nap time was an integral part of the syllabus). Remember that scene from The Shawshank Redemption when Morgan Freeman enters the real world again? That’s pretty much how it felt when I stepped off the stage in Sydney after my classmates performed altogether for the last time, except without Morgan Freeman’s deep, soulful commentary narrating me throughout my day.

Stephanie Wall
Stephanie Wall

It’s no secret that if you let it, graduation can be a scary time, and if I’ve learnt anything in the last six months, it’s to embrace the uncertainty that comes with this industry.

As of May 3rd, 2017, six months down the road, the transition from student to graduate has been an exciting and surprising one. I’ve discovered how important it is to be in charge of your own mindset, and this ‘transition’ is all a mental game. So I’ve decided to create a list of six tips to help make the infamous ‘transition year’ a (relatively) smooth one.

Give yourself time with friends and family to just ‘be’.

It has no doubt been a stressful time; so now that Showcase is over, give yourself a break. Whether you’re aching to start your year, or spending your days trawling back through tagged photos of the ‘good times’, family will always give you perspective, and that much needed chance to recharge.

Turn off (or minimise) social media notifications.

This one is for the FOMO-diseased people out there, an illness I myself have fallen victim to. The last three years came with a social calendar that (depending on the number of Uni parties that were held and how many people turned 21) was pretty well set out for you. It’s easy to open Snapchat now and be bombarded with all the exciting things your old classmates are doing and feel that distinct pang of FOMO, so switching off from time to time can lessen that sting.

Schedule non-negotiable classes into your week.

This step made what could’ve been an overwhelming transition a lot less scary. I remember still living out of suitcases, having not found a permanent place to live, but going to all the dance classes I could, finding which ones I could implement into my permanent schedule. Work out the number of hours you want to dedicate to training, find the relevant dance/vocal/acting etc. classes and make them a part of your weekly schedule. By doing this, my early weeks in Melbourne felt stable, as I was meeting new people and spending time with friends who had also graduated. Not only have I been able to continue my training without feeling like I’ve lost any momentum, but I’ve also met wonderful people there who have welcomed me into the Melbourne industry.

Establish a self-care routine.

This may be watching Masterchef after a long night of rehearsals, or making sure you meditate and are well stocked up on that overpriced (but totally worth it) Lamington T2 tea you bought because you felt guilty for going in store purely to try their tea samples. By doing this, you are being gentle with yourself, which is vital during this time of change.

Find the lesson in everything

In the past six months I have had some wonderful opportunities as well as some disappointing rejections, and I know that both experiences are inevitabilities in this industry. From getting too invested in auditions that didn’t turn out the way I hoped, to believing that a tram would run to schedule travelling down Chapel Street in peak hour traffic, with every disappointment comes a great lesson.

Do at least one thing every day that serves your goals.

Whatever it may be, doing at least one thing daily that serves your career not only ensures you’re ready for whatever comes your way, but also gives you the fulfilment of continually working towards your goals.

There’s only so much that is in your control, so embracing the uncertainty of this year and the industry is the only way to do it. By pushing past the fear of the unknown you can allow yourself to keep an open mind to whatever comes your way.

The past six months have been full of new experiences and I am excited to embrace what the rest of this ‘transition year’ has to offer.

Stephanie Wall

A small town girl now in the big city (cue ‘Don’t Stop Believin’), Wagga Wagga born Stephanie Wall is experiencing ‘real life’ in Melbourne for the first time after studying Music Theatre at WAAPA straight after completing high school. Stephanie graduated WAAPA in 2016, and while she was there had the opportunity to be a high kicking, juggling, ribbon-twirling Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone, a street-talking, hip-hopping cheerleader called Nautica in Bring It On: The Musical and got to live her Liza Minnelli dreams in And The World Goes Round. Follow Stephanie on instagram: @stephaniewall

Stephanie Wall

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