Graduation FOMO

By Katie May Huxtable

The concept of graduating was always something that seemed elusive to me – I knew it would come eventually but I always felt comfortably far enough away from it to not have to worry. Until, as most things often do, it crept up on me and education seemed to come to a sharp and abrupt end. 

I’m sure this is a phenomenon that happens annually, with students burrowed so deeply into their deadlines that the thought of it ever being over seems almost unimaginable. When things finally do come to an end, however, people solidify the sense of closure that comes with the end of university through acts of celebration and togetherness. A collaborative cheers as they smash together pints of cider at the pub, a collection of candids holding dissertations outside buildings they’d spent endless hours in, and, eventually, being called up to receive their certificate as a way of bringing the whole experience to a full circle. 

This year, however, the 2020 graduates could not do that. It was only the click of the button to confirm that last assignment submission or end a final work from home essay that signified this final year to a close. Dissertation pictures were now taken in home gardens, celebratory drinks became a solo bottle of Morrisons prosecco, and graduation was filed away with all the other events that had been indefinitely postponed. 

Although these necessary changes were detrimental to our safety, there will always be that sense of what could have been. Moreover, with little time to reflect on what had been achieved, we all found ourselves in an evaporating job market with “postponed”, “cancelled”, “furloughed” and “discontinued” becoming all too familiar discourse in the search for the next step.

From the outside, it would look like I should be coping well in this situation. I’ve got some experience to my name, have built up a portfolio for myself, and have spent the last three years trying to ensure that I was in the best possible position to find a career after university. The reality of it for me, and I’m sure many others at this time, is that I’m struggling to stay afloat when every potential prospect seems to be sinking around me. For every 20 job applications I send off, I probably get 2 responses – short messages of courtesy acknowledging my application and apologising for they won’t be taking me to the next stage.

It’s easy to feel alone in a situation like this, questioning your CV and own abilities as if you don’t deserve a job that you’ve so desperately worked towards. Like graduation had seemed initially, the next step after education seems too far out of reach. An undergraduate degree later, and I’m back at home sat at the same table I sat at three years ago when I was writing my UCAS application and it feels as if nothing has really changed. However, as the end of university did, we have to keep hoping that the next step will creep up on us eventually. Perhaps even more naturally than we could’ve imagined it would do so. In the meantime, we hope this platform can uplift you, acting as a constant reminder that your time will come and, until it does, there are many others around you undergoing exactly the same trip. 

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