Monday, 12 June 2017

degree? done it. so what's next?

Today is a great day because I bought a new phone after two weeks of being phone-less (completely self-inflicted - lost it at a festival, oops). The initial psychological benefits of such an online disconnect were huge, but after two weeks of missing important calls and forgetting things because I couldn't add them to my to-do list, the novelty was starting to wear slightly thin and it became a total inconvenience. Massive respect to those people out there who choose not to have smartphones. I have learnt that the to-do list on my phone is pretty much the only thing that keeps me organised and mentally tidy! Sad but true.


In this post I really want to talk about finishing uni because, well, I just did. The time that I've been slightly dreading ever since starting at Bristol three years ago is upon me, and it's a real heady mix of emotions to be quite honest. Three years studying one subject is pretty intense, so to be free from that routine is quite exciting. By the same token, the job hunt looms and makes my belly flip if I think about it for too long at a time.

(this is a nervous smile)

It's quite strange how, having been on the straight and narrow education train for so long, life opens up as soon as you get off after uni. This should be a really exciting thing that inspires hope and excitement about the opportunities that are out there, but there seems to be something about peoples' attitudes towards young graduates' futures that is just so pressurizing and critical and frustrating. Obviously we all need to work, but what on earth is the point in scaring us into rushing into a job that we might hate, at a point in our lives when most of us are genuinely happy and young and at our social and intellectual peak? Leaving uni has made me feel super grateful and proud of the amazing friends I've made and all the successes we've shared over these three years. The last thing any of us want is to have this sense of fulfillment undone by the dissatisfaction of a rushed and heartless job hunt.

(I don't know why I'm laughing, it's not that funny)

In my (limited yet thought-provoking) experience, I think the most valuable thing a recent graduate can foster right off the bat is patience and an open mind. Like a lot of people at this stage I have an idea of what I want to do in the next year, and a vague plan as to how I could go about getting there over the next few months. And I also know that the plans I have may not be possible right away because I've booked up some fun things to do this summer which will make 24/7 job searching an impossibility. And this may not please my family or anyone else who thinks I could do 'better'. But what is better? And realistically, what's the rush? Earning money will obviously be a necessity very soon for me and any other graduate, but I think it's important not to let that nasty post-uni pressure about the 'right' ways to do it get in your head. I also refuse to feel guilty for wanting to actually relax and have some fun this summer. Not to do so would be counter-productive, stressful, and would probably wind up with me making some rushed decisions about my future that I don't really believe in. 

Real ambition and inspiration rarely come to fruition in moments of high stress and panic, so I think it's crucial that we try and leave it out. If anyone, like me, experiences occasional floods of future-fear, have a little faith in what you've spent the last three years working for and who uni has made you, and just chill out and take some time to reflect on what you've achieved. Embrace the uncertainty because it's not going to last forever - try not to take this small period of your life super seriously if you know that that attitude is going to stress you out and impact your happiness in the long-term. We've all worked bloody hard and have no doubt developed different ideas of what success looks like, so as long as you stand by yours and do the right thing for yourself, I don't think you can go far wrong at this point.

Here's to the future in all it's unknown and unstable glory! I don't know who you are or what you look like but I think we'll get along just fine. 


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