As a tossed my cap into the air, I breathed a sigh of relief – ‘I will never, EVER have to look at another history book, ever again.’ Flash forward 6 months and I have applied for a distance Masters in, you guessed it, history.
I have reflected on the past 6 months of my life in a previous blog post, ‘I had an epiphany’, which you can find here. In this post, I get very deep and share my personal experiences of leaving University, moving out and beginning my ‘adult’ life. In this post, however, I plan to be a lot less philosophical. While we will touch on similar themes to what I did in that post, in this post, I am not sharing an epiphany, but rather asking a question.
I believe I speak for a lot of graduates when I say WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?
When I finished University I was one of the lucky ones in the sense I had a job sorted and knew exactly what I was going to be doing.
‘Well, that was easy…’ My life had all fallen together quite nicely.
Flash forward a month and I was poorer than I had ever been at University, renting in a place where I knew nobody and questioning why I did my degree in the first place. To be quite frank, nobody gave two shits. Two months later I realised how lucky I had been and how much I had taken my degree for granted. Truth be told, I really missed learning and my life was anything but sorted. How naive I was…
The problem is, we are fed from the age of about 13 that everything builds up to that moment when you throw your cap in the air and get handed your degree. You then go on and change the world. But what happens if at 22 you’re not doing that? What if you’re in a graduate job, struggling to make ends meet and more than a little bit clueless about exactly where you want to go in life? Well, you’re totally normal. Life beyond graduation isn’t always all-go straight away. In fact, it’s a bit of an anti-climax.
However, that’s not what we’re being led to believe. A thought that crosses my mind on a daily basis is that I am running out of time and that all of these big dreams that I had for myself are futile now. I tell myself every day that I have failed.
I am 22.
This all sounds pretty entitled, doesn’t it?
I have been privileged enough to have had access to degree level education, I leave, walk straight into a job and then 6 months later I’m moaning about it.
What am I actually looking for here?
Put simply, honesty.
For the majority of graduates, leaving education is scary. Many will fall in and out of jobs for years before finding what they want to do with their lives. The fact that more than 43% of us will be searching for a new job within two years is probably not only down to a desire to work for more than financial gain but also down to pressure to be ‘living our best lives’. If we’re not in our ‘dream job’ in our early twenties, the rhetoric that we should have everything sorted is enough to drive us into looking for something else. The idea at 22 that I am ‘trapped’ and that I will never progress is terrifying. Why am I not achieving everything my peers are?
Post-graduation life is tough, and if you are anything like myself and a lot of my friends, leaving University does not result in finding the answer to hundreds of life questions. If anything, it just brings up more questions. I am not for one second trying to make people yet to graduate fear the future. Rather, I want to tell them that it’s okay if things don’t fall into place straight away. There is a big wide world out there and we’re all just starting on our journey in it. A journey that is likely to take hundreds of twists and turns before we reach the end goal – if, in fact, that exists at all.
If more of us speak about the experiences we are having in our early 20’s, then perhaps we can help to get rid of this preconceived idea that you should have everything sorted because, well… chances are most of us don’t. Chances are you’re doing absolutely fine. Maybe instead of asking what the hell is going on, we should try to make the most of this new chapter in our lives to explore, make mistakes and develop.
You don’t have to have everything figured out right now, and it’s about time more people told us that.