Wednesday 6 July 2016

A new chapter in life; how to deal with graduate anxiety

Lottie discusses her experience upon graduating from university and the advice she has received. 

- Lottie Naughton

When I received my exam mark for the last exam I would ever have to sit, I was ecstatic. I had out done myself; my best mark had been awarded to me in an exam I was so sure I had failed. I jumped around my room so happy and so thrilled. All of my hard work had paid off! Four years of my academic life were successful and worthwhile. I was proud of myself, for the first time in a very long time.

However, my anxiety did not let me dwell on these feelings for long. In fact, only a day later I found myself worrying. My friends were sharing news of new jobs and careers, further study or travel plans. I had nothing. I was alone, back at home. It was starting to sink in that I had nothing lined up for the rest of my life! No plans, no job, no money. I was back in my childhood bedroom, in my pyjamas at 1pm in the middle of a working week, with half a CV and no idea what to do with my life.

I tried to keep busy, applying for as many jobs as I could. “Start at the bottom and work your way up” my mum was telling me, “You’ve set yourself apart from others with this degree, you’ll be fine” she kept reminding me. But, as more and more unsuccessful applications were returned to me, I was losing hope fast. I was staying in bed for half the day, not able to get up and face another rejection. I only got up and dressed half an hour or so before my family came home so they wouldn’t suspect anything was wrong. My mum caught me crying in the bathroom one afternoon, and I finally opened up to her. She gave me the pep talk of my life.

She reminded me of so many positive and inspiring things I had done and I am yet to do. She gave me the hard truth, and it was exactly what I needed. I want to share what she said to me, in the hopes anyone facing life after graduation, and is worried about their transition at the moment might also be able to pick themselves up and keep on trucking, just as I have had to:

“Sometimes, the weight of the world can be troubling to someone who has only experienced life in a short span of time. You are in free-fall, falling at the speed of light, so much so you feel as if you are standing still and the world feels like it is passing you by. Feeling hopeless now is normal. Do you really think anyone had their life figured out in their early twenties? You have yet to even know who you are as a person- this is a time of reflection, perseverance and setbacks.

This time in your young life is shaping who you are going to become as an adult. Relish it, be aware of it, and push through it. You can feel a large chapter of your life closing, and can sense that soon you are going to have to turn the page to a whole new chapter, a new experience, a scary and mysterious path. You are grieving for your academic life, your care free and younger self. Do you not see? This is a good thing! This is you finally becoming who you are meant to be.

You are aware of what you are leaving behind, and you are frightened of what is yet to come. This is not a rare and unique experience. We all must face it and we all get through it. Keep pushing on, keep striving for more, keep expecting and hoping for more- your ambition and your will are growing stronger with every application you make, unsuccessful or not. It is teaching you something. Don’t ignore the lesson. You are going to be okay. Your success is not measured by comparing yourself to others. It will be measured in your adult life- in how you deal with this turning page. “

I am still frightened and worried about my future, but now, I am aware of what this is teaching me. I am pushing through my anxious feelings and I am relishing on my successful academic life that I am moving on from. Remember that life is a long journey; remember to always put it into perspective. 

1 comment:

  1. I think this is an excellent blog, Lottie. Much of what you have discussed and shared resonates with my recent experience of graduating as a mature student. I was fortunate enough to be offered the second graduate job I applied for in the field of my degree - social work. However, I still feel anxiety mixed with excitement about the responsibility my new role holds. I think your mother's advice is wise and pertinent to graduands of all ages and academic backgrounds. Thank you.