Monday, 24 January 2022

The Relationship Between Anxiety and Graduation

Robin shares her experience with feeling the pressures and anxieties of knowing what comes next after graduation.

- Robin Sera

Anxiety and Post-Graduation are two things that go hand-in-hand. Questions such as ‘what do you want to do when you leave?’ and ‘what’s next?’ seem to be thrown at you from all directions and you don’t always necessarily have the answers. It can be a highly stressful time, especially when it feels like everyone around you expects you to have your entire life planned out when you have only just left education. 

I am someone who has always struggled with anxiety and depression, and I found that they both grew worse as my graduation date came closer and closer. I had no idea how to tell my family that, when I looked to my future beyond June 2021, all I saw was an empty blank space. When I felt I should have mapped out a career plan and solid goals for the next few years. I began to feel the pressure of knowing what I wanted to do next which began to heavily weigh down on my chest. I started struggling with sleep, leaving the house, and not talking about anything university-related, all of which made any pre-existing issues worse.  

What would my family think if I left university and had no plans set in stone for the future? What if I came back home and got stuck doing something that I hated for the foreseeable future? And worst of all, what if the three years of my degree had been wasted on someone who was never going to use it?  The feeling of being a disappointment to family, friends back home began to feel crushing. I found myself having daily panic attacks at the smallest of things, whether that be text messages from my parents or sending in rushed job applications to anything I could find on job-searching sites.  

I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through, worried that they would find me even more of a failure. It seemed everyone else around me had everything figured out perfectly fine.  That was, until one day I called my mum and just completely poured out every thought that had been shouting in my brain for the past three months day and night. 

She sat and she listened, not saying a word until I was ready to listen to what she had to say. Within moments, my worries about not being good enough or being a disappointment began to fizzle away as she told me she understood, and she would be there to support me in any way that I needed. She told me that she knew I was a naturally anxious person, but that my insecurities and doubts in myself didn’t come from anywhere real. 

No one was going to think about all the horrible things I thought about myself. No one was going to think I was a failure for not having a five-year plan following leaving university. No one except me was piling on this pressure for me to have everything fixed immediately. These things take time, and it’s incredibly important to give yourself kindness whilst things fall into place. If you are feeling overwhelmed, scared, or pressured it is always the better option to talk to someone about it. 

Letting these emotions pile up inside of yourself will ultimately make things worse! Reach out to someone you trust and support, ask them to just listen, and if needed, you can always come up with a step-by-step plan for what comes next together. It is okay to say ‘I don’t know’ when people ask what is next, there is time to figure things out, and it is not the end of the world to not have your whole life planned out at the age of 21 – or even at 50!  Allow yourself the space to breathe and take in the last moments of university before graduating without putting that heavy weight of pressure on yourself. 

Take 2022 as an opportunity to give yourself space and patience, especially when it comes to things that you would usually be anxious about, and remember that just because you feel that you are alone in feeling something, that doesn’t mean it’s true. It is always the better option to talk about these things with someone.

We know that experiencing mental health difficulties at university can feel overwhelming. Explore the support that is available at your university and further.

Hi, I’m Robin. I graduated from the University of Brighton in 2021 and found that my mental health went on its biggest journey whilst I was studying – for better and worse! I struggled with feelings of self-doubt hand-in-hand with depression for most of my time there but found joy in writing and having creative outlets such as writing.

Monday, 10 January 2022

A Year of Uncertainty

Tayyibah shares how difficult last year has been.

Tayyibah Hussain

It has been a tough time for us all since 2020. We have all lost friends, family, colleagues, teachers and others. Last year had been tough on so many people’s mental health, too. We all had to stay safe ourselves and keep our loved ones safe. It had been a rollercoaster of a year; but through all of this, we reached so far. Of course, it has been difficult for us all; we have experienced many ups and downs. However, what matters the most is that we are all in this together.

Everyone should feel proud of themselves. After all, each person has been helpful and supportive to one another, which was especially difficult considering that many were struggling with their mental health. Being able to call or message someone to chat, or check up on them meant a lot to many people. I know that I am grateful for those who have stuck with me throughout all this. For me, personally, the jump from college to university was very daunting. I know that I probably was not the only one, but since I was not feeling confident and lacked social skills, I thought it would not go well.

However, during the first year of University, I became a student representative: something I had never even imagined. I have been supporting and helping others on the Early Childhood Studies degree whenever possible. I have been doing well so far with assignments despite the lack of self-belief, and it is particularly helpful when staff and others saw the potential in me, which I really appreciated. Moving onto the second year, I am very grateful to the Early Childhood Studies staff at Derby for supporting and helping not just myself but many other students. They gave them the belief and courage to push themselves, and the hope that they can achieve whatever they desire, with just that little support.
I, myself, have managed to achieve a lot, from being able to speak in small groups, to giving feedback and presenting just this semester. Despite the difficulties that I have faced, I managed to achieve a lot in a small period of time. However, the reason I brought this up is to remind everyone to be proud of their small achievements every day. Remember that there is always something positive in each day no matter how dull it may seem.
As they say, ‘there is always light at the end of the tunnel’. I agree that it is not easy, but it will get better. You just have to keep going on and remember we are in this together and we are all here to support one another. Remember you are loved and cared for. Nobody is alone!

Whether you are looking for support for your own mental health or supporting a friend, help is available.


Tayyibah Hussain is currently a student at the University of Derby studying Early Childhood Studies. Interested in Mental Health, Adverse Childhood Experiences and supporting others and hoping to inspire others to have self-belief and faith in themselves.