If you’ve recently finished University & are graduating soon let me start off by saying congratulations! You’ve experienced the late night studying, survived the 8 am hangover lectures, lived off fish finger sandwiches and learnt how to use a washing machine.
So what now? What are you going to do after graduation? What graduate job have you got lined up? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
If you have an exact answer to each and everyone one of those questions, I applaud you. No seriously, I do. If you’re anything like me your answers would sound something like, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘not to sure really’.
Sound familiar to anyone? I really hope it does.
Last year I managed to break down post graduation into 5 stages (see here). Nevertheless, 2 years on and in a lot of ways University & graduation feels like a lifetime ago but at the same time it feels like it only happened a few months back. Could I have predicted what has happened during the past 2 years? No. Did I have a plan? No.
The summer period after graduation does feel like one of the most freeing times but equally overwhelming. With that in mind I want to shed some light and a little truth on what is a time where you will feel a roller-coaster of emotions. You’ll feel like you’re the only one stepping out into the adult world still with an uncertainty about your future and it’s something no one really seems to like to talk about.
Roll back 2 years, the only plan I had set in stone was that I would be moving to Pembrokeshire. I couldn’t have prepared myself for everything that’s happened since then (albeit not a lot) but sometimes we can get such a distorted view of post-grad and it’s no surprise people are left questioning how have they got there and I haven’t? The truth is, everything happens at its own pace. The best quote I ever found and read after leaving university was by Julissa Loaiza.
“I know people who graduated college at 21, and didn’t get a salary job until they were 27. I know people who graduated at 25 and already had a salary job. I know people who have children and are single. I know people who are married and had to wait 8-10 years to be parents. I know people who are in a relationship and love someone else. I know people who love each other and aren’t together. There are people waiting to love and be loved. My point is, everything in life happens according to our time, our clock. You may look at your friends and some may seem to be ahead or behind you, but they’re not. They’re living according to the pace of their clock, so be patient. You’re not falling behind, it’s just not your time.”
I’ve read this over and over again and still go back to it for a reminder, but gradually you will accept how true it is. We all have our own time clocks and we should never feel the pressure of what society deems is normal. Look at Walt Disney! One of the world’s most successful people but a late bloomer. Look at his time clock and his outcome. He didn’t give up, just think if he had done! Where would we be without happily ever afters and costume inspiration.
The biggest reminder I take from it is, don’t give up! Don’t be knocked back by what your friends, family, colleagues or even strangers are doing. You have a purpose and whether you discover it today, tomorrow or in a few months time that’s great because it means your time clock is moving. You’re moving at the right pace at your right time.
With that in mind, it’s absolutely OK to not even know what you want to do or not know what you’re meant to ‘be’. Something which plays hand in hand with what I’ve just spoke about. I remember the first time I was asked as a very little girl, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up Alice?’ At the time the only answer I ever came up with was ‘a ballerina’. Now 23 the only dancing I do is to the toilet when I need a wee. But actually it’s OK and necessary to do and be many different things that way you’ll find what best suits you and what makes you happy.
Leaving University also doesn’t mean you can’t find a job which is no way related to your degree, some may think well why have you spent the last 3 years studying something you aren’t going to pursue? The way I look at it is, your time at University will never be wasted. Whether you leave and go straight into a post-graduate job or leave and go along a completely different path. You gain far more from University than just a piece of paper with a grade on it.
So, this one is for anybody freaking out. If you don’t know what you’re doing after graduation, or just generally in life, please don’t worry. I don’t think any of us do!