Advice to My Past Self Upon Graduating College

Living at home after returning from college has changed me for the better. I graduated in May, and it has been all about discovering and learning what makes me outside of school. School has been my personality since the beginning. But who is Olivia?

Olivia Holler 2

I am learning and discovering who I am as an individual, a woman, and an individual with a disability. I am learning how to combine those three identities while learning about myself- what I like to do, what I don’t like, what my hobbies are, what my personal goals are, etc. It’s been a journey of road bumps along the way, and I am still not 100% where I want to be, but I am proud of where I have gotten and how far I have come. Along the way, I have found support and advocacy groups, started to embrace my disability even more, went with the flow a little bit more, and, most importantly, did lots and lots of reading!

We all come out of college with these high expectations for ourselves. I know I did, but I didn’t have any expectations of what my life would be like living with a disability at home. Luckily, I could connect, network, and meet people who could understand and support me in ways I never imagined. I have been more involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the last few months and became a part of the Young Rare Representatives, Disability EmpowHer Network, Boundless Babe Society, and a staff writer for Cripple Media. I never had time in college to do these things, but now that I have the time, I can 100% do these things and put my heart and soul into the things I am passionate about.

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Aside from the advocacy work and becoming more involved with different disability organizations, I have taken the time to re-know myself. I have spent time doing what I love and caring for myself—reading, writing, coloring, knitting, and even finding new hobbies or self-care routines. During college, you lose yourself in some ways because you don't have much time to take care of yourself. It was always about school, so this has been a new change of pace.

If I were to look back and give my recent graduate self some advice, it would be this:

1. Take one day as it goes. Things aren't easy, but you made it; you are here.

2. Find support in people going through the same thing, whether through communities you are involved with or identify with; those will be your people through thick and thin. It took me time to find support from people in the disability community who were going through the same transition stage as I was, but once I did, those people became my people.

3. Explore and Discover. Find what you love to do and do it. You have the time, so don’t feel bad about taking time for yourself. You deserve it.

4. Things happen for a reason. I didn’t believe this at first, but things DO happen for a reason. Things will work out; things will happen as they are supposed to, such as where you move, a job, or any other major life event in the coming years.

Transitioning into adulthood after college is not easy but be patient and take everything one step at a time. It is all worth it in the end, and it will work out how it should. You got this!

About the Author: Olivia Holler is a 23-year-old with a rare disease. She is an avid and passionate disabled advocate involved in many different organizations to continue to bring awareness and education about various issues in the disabled community.

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This blog is a part of the Disability EmpowHer Network and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation collaborative blogging program, which uplifts the voices of women and girls with spinal cord disabilities.

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The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.