How to deal with the “What Now?” Feeling after Graduating? – With Ana Martins

If you’re anything like me, since the first day of the first semester of the first year you’ve been dreaming about graduating. That feeling of accomplishment and pride for completing one of the most life-changing chapters of your life follows you from Year 1 to your last day at university. 

After all, you have met the people that will accompany you through the rest of your life as friends and even as mentors. You’ve learned a lot about your industry and through stacks of assignments you found time to have fun and let go of the pressure. That’s what university life is about! 

But when you get to your final year, you’re submerged in due papers and the infamous dissertation that kept you occupied until your last hand-in date. Usually, that’s when it hits you. You’ve finished university. This gutted feeling that the world as you know it it’s about to change. You’ll find yourself wondering WHAT NOW? 

Anxiety becomes your worst nightmare at this point and it feels like everyone around you knows exactly what to do, or what they want. It seems like everyone has their eggs in the correct basket while you’re scrambling to find answers. 

In all honesty, I don’t think anyone knows how to answer that. 

But don’t sweat it! Here’s what I helped me cope since graduating:

Step 1: Give yourself time to grieve your university life!

Oftentimes, graduates completely skip this step. Either they’re way too excited for what comes next or too anxious to find separation between the person they are in university and the person they are out of university. Finding time to remember the good and bad memories, to close the chapter, to move forward with your life is essential. You have to find the new you and that brings me to Step 2.

Step 2: Focus on putting yourself first (FOR ONCE!)

You’re free of assignments! You’re free of deadlines! You finally have the time to call a friend, or go on that weekend trip with your family, or stay at home and binge-watch a whole show on Netflix! Whether you want to be outside or curled up in your blankets on your couch, enjoy the moments you have with you!

Step 3: Rely on your friends and the ones closest to you!

I can’t stress it enough. This is a difficult time in any graduate students career. You have some idea of what you want but you have to narrow it down to the specifics, and you end up lost in a sea of opportunities and unpaid internships. 

Rely on those that know you! Something that might help is looking back to career day at primary school. I know it seems silly but lay out your options, bullet point what you need to do to get that dream job and have your family, your friends, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, even your dogs listen to the job descriptions. Are you happy when you talk about that career path? Is it worth it doing that internship? There’s no one better than them to help you during the decision process. 

Step 4: Journal!

I wasn’t much into journaling or writing down in a diary. Even when I was younger it didn’t appeal to me. But this might be the only set routine you’ll have for a while and in a way, it will help your anxiety too. If you journal in the morning, you can write down what you want to accomplish today, set your own goals such as applying for 10 internships today, or even as simple as shower and go on a walk. If you journal at night, you can write what you’ve already accomplished or even what made you feel happy that day. This way you’re able to look back and see how you’ve gain confidence in yourself!

And last but not least,

Step 5: Vision Board

Planning for the sake of being organised is no fun. Get your friends together, your family, again your pets would be great companions too. On a big piece of cardboard, or an old whiteboard you would play with as a child, or even 8 pieces of A4 paper taped together, start to write down your aspirations for that year. And be specific, down to how much you want in your savings account by December? What internship do you want and where? What holiday destination do you wanna go to? 

It seems silly and unnecessary. It seems like you will forget about it in two seconds, but your subconscious will have this board engraved in your brain. And the best part? Every time you accomplish something take it down from the board, check it or erase it. It’s the best feeling to celebrate these little wins!

At the end of the day, I’m not an expert but I was extremely anxious about graduating and I felt myself spiralling out of control once I handed in everything. I lost my routines and stopped contacting some friends, and although that’s normal these steps helped me get back to feeling confident in my skills and what I want to bring to a future career! 

Now I have to go pin down “Writing for the Graduate Club” from my Vision Board but I’m hoping to hear from all of you! Find your way around those Graduation Blues and Good Luck with your future! 

You can contact me on my Instagram pages: @a.b_ana @byabstudios

Share this post?

Leave a Comment