The Graduate: Idea vs Reality

Happy Friday everyone and Happy Anniversary to the “adult” me!

 

Yup that’s right – I’ve been in the adult world for one whole year now, and what a year it’s been! For all the students, graduates and anyone struggling through the game of grown up life after education, brace yourselves and read on..

 

The 19th of May 2016 was the end of a big old era for me. I was sitting in the gym hall at Robert Gordon University, perched at a tiny square desk with spare pens at one end and a bottle of water underneath. My papers were closed and my pen lay on the table as I calmly looked around everyone furiously scribbling down answers and flipping pages back and forth. I sat back in my chair and looked up at the clock on the scoreboard. We had seven minutes left. I was excited, overwhelmed and a little bit emotional at the thought of this being my last ever moment in full time education, but in six minutes I would finally be as free as a fucking bird – I didn’t give a shit about uni anymore, or clinical psychology, or whether pharmaceuticals are an effective treatment for mental health disorders (they’re not, apparently). I had been dreaming of this for months, counting down the days until my life could finally start and I could do whatever I wanted. In five minutes I would walk out the door with my friends and have no clue what I would do with my life besides getting drunk that afternoon, I had no idea what life would really be like as a graduate.

 

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photo credit: Barns Photography 

 

In reality, the few months that followed were very different to the idyllic vision that I had about finishing uni. Within a couple of days the feeling of finally being free turned into “shit, now what?!”. I quickly realized that being a graduate is not an easy time when you’ve studied a very vague degree subject and have very little idea on what you want to do, or even what you can do with it. Turns out I had worked so relentlessly on my dissertation and degree that, at the end of it, I had no idea what my identity was or what my dream job looked like or where to even look for jobs. Uni had chewed me up and spat me back out with a first class honours degree but no idea what to do with it. As dramatic as it sounds, I really did fall into quite a hopeless and depressive state once it was all over. There were a lot of tears and time in bed (I wish I was exaggerating). I felt overwhelmed and undereducated when it came to finding a graduate job and I was constantly worrying about whether I would ever manage to get “a proper job”. I thought that having a degree meant that you had your shit together, you had made it, you were qualified to get a high-flying job with adult-like status and start earning big bucks. The truth is, more often than not, you start right at the bottom and that can be a really hard pill to swallow when you’ve worked your ass off for four years thinking that you’ll reap the rewards in your dream job as soon as your student card expires. In reality, the fear of failure made it hard to apply for any job; I was underqualified for the positions that I wanted because my degree course wasn’t specific enough, but I felt that if I got a low-level job then I’ve wasted my degree and failed at life. I had been very wrong about my idea of freedom and to be honest, I don’t know why I ever thought that it would be easy.

 

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photo credit: Filipe Dos Santos Mendes

 

It took months of anxiety, rejection emails, how I met your mother, keeping up with the Kardashians, the millionaire matchmaker, more rejection emails, orange is the new black, this morning, skins, “shit I better apply for more jobs”, Gogglebox, first dates, and I can’t believe I’m saying this – real housewives of Atlanta, real housewives of orange county, real housewives of Beverly hills, real housewives of Melbourne, real housewives of New York, Real Housewives of Miami and of course, Real Housewives of New Jersey. Somewhere in amongst the binge watching and hiding from reality, I would pick myself up and apply for a job, which would take HOURS – just for one job – that I wasn’t really desperate for anyway or probably wouldn’t get! And I’m not talking about massive opportunities here, half the time I was just applying for sales assistant jobs. Who knew that to work at a till and be polite you have to have a year’s experience, never mind a degree or a good work ethic or really good people skills. Why would no one hire me? What was wrong with me?! I fell into a hopeless spiral and Netflix became my escape from the real world, but the sinking feeling of coming back to reality made it a love/hate relationship. Spoiler: good things don’t come to those who watch an unhealthy amount of TV – unless you’re Scarlett Moffat, which I’m not. So I knew that I had to get up off my ass and keep going no matter what, because even though I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I couldn’t just lie in bed and mope for the rest of my life, I knew I was better than that.

 

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photo credit: Averie Woodard

 

Don’t get me wrong, the summer of 2016 was full of highs as well as lows; I had an awesome graduation day and a grad ball snapchat story that lasted about a week (this is my sign of a very good night), plus, I had achieved the impossible – a first class honours degree!  After these months of anxiety and worrying, things started to come together; I found myself a place to live thanks to family, I got myself a job thanks to a friend, and even though I’m not living the #goals lifestyle, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

Now listen up, if I could give one – no, three words of advice to any student or graduate or to myself this time last year, it would be – wait for it – “chill the fuck out!”.. ok that’s four.

 

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But seriously, Chill out! No one ever said that graduate life would be easy, or that you need to have your shit together; that all comes from worrying about what everyone else is doing and what you think you should be doing, rather than what you want to be doing. Once you give up those worries you’ll save yourself from a lot of unnecessary stress, and you’ll realize that life still runs it’s course. I didn’t get a “graduate” or “adult” job, and I was waitressing for a good few months until I even got a tiny bit further up the career ladder into the world of retail. But I can pay the bills, I have more money in the bank than I did as a student I have a roof over my head, I still have my family and friends – along with new ones, and I’m blogging! That’s the real dream come true here.

 

I hope my ramblings have helped anyone out there feeling shit to feel a little less shit about their situation! If you’re one of these people please let me know by commenting below or on my social accounts (look to the right), I’d love to hear what you thought of this post.

 

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

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