So what now? I am officially a graduate, I have moved home, emptied the small amount left in my student bank account and apart from the great memories, amazing friends and many cringey bar crawl t-shirts I have collected there is little left of my student life to cling on to. Yet I am not all that ready to move on, I am definitely still in the first stage of grief, denying rather than accepting that I no longer live in the university bubble. Whilst I am sure there are so many of us in the same confused boat that has no idea where it is heading, it feels like everyone around me is successfully taking on the role of ‘alumni’- jobs, internships, five year plans etcetera etcetera…
So far my life has been based on the goal of getting my degree. Every exam I have sat from my SATs when I was 11 to the hell of A levels when I was 18 has led to what was seen at the time as the ‘golden egg’ of achievement, the key that would unlock all the opportunities. I was not naive enough to think that degree equalled immediately getting my dream job, but I was under the impression that finding a job would be slightly easier than it is proving to be. Unfortunately a degree doesn’t stop the stuttering in an interview, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be glaring spelling mistakes in a CV and even if you put on a pencil skirt people aren’t immediately going to take you seriously.
It seems that for the first time in my life, I have no concrete goal, of course I still have goals, so many goals in fact, but they are much less defined than what I have experience so far. Without trying to sound overly cliche, I have reached the end of the educational ladder, and that is scary. I could go on with the cliche and say something along the lines of ‘and now it is time to jump’ but actually its not, its time to find another one of these metaphorical ladders, one that is much longer and much harder, and begin again at the bottom. So I have decided that whilst I sit amongst the boxes filled with the memories of my university life, that that are gathering dust with the rest of my potential, I am going to try and see the positives in this next stage of my life.
So lets start with some statistics- the employment rate for working age graduates is 87.5%, that’s the highest it has been since 2007, similarly, the unemployment rate of 3.9% is again the lowest its been in years. Not that money particular motivates my career choices but the average wage for graduates has also risen by £1000 in the last year. So already the odds are in my favour and these figures show that I should eventually be rewarded for my efforts.
Another positive- I am free to make choices about what I want to do with my life. I did English, so maybe I can’t be a doctor or a vet (the 10 year old in me is very disappointed about this), but there are so many opportunities out their and that’s exciting. I am lucky enough that no one but myself is putting pressure on me to get on with my life, everyone else around me, my parents, (most) of my friends are encouraging me to relax, to take the break that I suppose I deserve. I am not about to pull a Benjamin Braddock and find myself a (Mr)s Robinson, I do have some ideas of what my general aim is life is but for now I am quite happy having a year to myself to just catch my breath before heading out into the big bad world of MAs, graduate schemes and jobs. I want to travel and have guilt free lie ins reading books that I don’t have to pick apart until I can never look at them again. Although funnily enough I am re-reading a lot of the books that I studied at uni- I blame it on nostalgia.
So some advice to any of you going through a similar thing – you will never have this ‘wasted time’ again. In a few weeks, or months or it might even be years you will look back on these days, the days of sleeping into the afternoon, binge watching Netflix and your biggest care being about the last time you went to the gym and you will wish you had made the most of it.
‘Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives.’- Baz Lurman/Kurt Vonnegut/Mary Schmich