Don’t Fear the Lost Year

Words by Lucy Robinson

No matter how you felt about graduation, there’s one thing that is for certain: adjusting to life post-university is hard. For three, or more, years of your life, you’ve been building up to getting your degree. Throughout university, graduation was a static destination. But now you’ve been there, done that, and chances are you have no idea what to do next. With the lack of structure provided by timetabled classes and regular nights out, post-university life can easily feel like being thrown in the deep end.

As someone who graduated a year ago, I thought I’d share some tips about how best to navigate life outside of university.

Everybody Feels This Way

When you started university, alongside your pre-drinks playlist, the soundtrack to Freshers’ Week was probably the phrase: ‘everyone else is in the same boat’. As cliché and as annoying as that was, they were right. Everybody around you was living the same experience. 

The same applies here. 

You are among thousands of other graduates entering the ‘life after university’ phase. In recent years, there has been a trend in graduates suffering from feelings of depression and anxiety related to leaving university. It’s become so prevalent in fact that the term ‘post university blues’ has been coined. Given that struggling to adjust to this new period is a common experience, remember that sharing your feelings is more important than ever. At the end of the day, no matter how isolated you may feel, if you open up the discussion with the people around you, it’s likely that they will have gone through something similar.

Don’t feel like you’re somehow less than your peers just because you don’t know where your passions lie.

Lucy Robinson

Accept The Now

Chances are you’re not in your dream job straight out of uni, and that’s okay. There’s no shame in getting a job in retail or going back to your parents’ house whilst you’re figuring out what you want to do. Don’t feel like you’re somehow less than your peers just because you don’t know where your passions lie. Everything takes time.

So, accept the now. Stop wishing you were somewhere else, someone else and doing something else. Live in the now and learn from your present experiences. This period is temporary and a finite time of transition. Be resilient, reflective, and most importantly, kind to yourself.

Comparison Is The Enemy

Part of accepting your current state comes with focussing on you. In an age of online promotion, both personally and professionally, it’s easier than ever to feel yourself comparing your achievements against everything that crops up on your social media feed.

It can often be difficult to accept that you do indeed feel envious of others but remember that people use social media to present the best versions of themselves. What you see is only the tip of the iceberg. You don’t know what that person is feeling outside of their Instagram grid. We’re all guilty of curating our online selves. It’s never a reflection of reality.

Realise That We’re All Just Blagging It

Annoyingly, passing milestones in your life ultimately doesn’t change the way that you live. 

You don’t wake up on your 18th birthday feeling any different to how you felt the day before, just as you don’t wake up one day in your twenties, look in the mirror and say ‘I’m and adult now’. Because, as much as we emphasise the notion of ‘adulting’, being an adult isn’t actually a destination. 

At the end of the day, adults are just children pretending to do grown up things. Your parents? They winged their parenting methods. Your boss? They’re doing their best to man the ship. Your young professional friends? They’re trying to keep up appearances too, just like you are. Don’t feel bad for feeling like you’re making it up as you go along, because that’s exactly what everyone else is doing.

Do What You Want To Do

If I’ve learned anything over the past year it’s that, though it may seem like life is passing me by, I am still young. Take the youth you have and grab it by the horns. Whether that means working a 9-5 to save your money, work several part time jobs as a means of exploring your passions, or even taking a gap year. At the end of the day, nobody can tell you how to live your life.

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