Before I attended University I avidly scoured the internet seeking advice on how to embrace university student life; survival guides for freshers, myths to debunk and what you can realistically expect from your university years. It prepared me for what was ahead.
Three years later however, when I found myself leaving university, I didn’t feel it was necessary to take similar precautions. Instead, I entered the post-grad world blissfully unaware. I wish someone had warned me. As although the first step on the university ladder is of course a big one now I have experienced both, I believe dismounting this ladder is laden with even more challenges. In essence, beginning university is the start of the next three years but ending university is the start of the rest of your life – scary stuff.
Here are some of the things I have since sworn by to help soothe those pesky post-graduate blues.
These aided my re-initiation process of moving back home and the impenetrable abyss of the job market that awaited on the other side. With these simple do’s and don’ts you may just become a fully functioning adult living outside the sanctity of university bubble.
1. Create your own personalised space
Maybe more like a personal haven if you like. Where you enjoy your own company and the glorious sound of silence. Your living quarters don’t have to be anything fancy but surround yourself with the things that make you happy. This is essential for an early phase I like to call the hibernation period.
2. Unpack and organise, immediately
Make sure your space is clean and tidy. I kept all my possessions in boxes for months before properly unpacking and as a result, dust became a prominent part of the furniture. In fact the dust was more settled than I was. Having all your belongings around you and not scattered in boxes can make you feel more stable.
3. Buy your own food and cook your own meals
You need some control in your life, this is a good start. Although mum’s home cooked meals may entice you for the first fortnight back home, you will soon realise that this is not a short term break and you’re not going back this time. Shopping for your own food will give you some power and control over your life again, it will emulate the sensations of independence you enjoyed while living away from home.
4. Communicate with your parents
Ah yes, “communication,” that old chestnut. Even though you will adamantly explain to them that they don’t understand how you feel, enlighten them. If you do not communicate you will isolate yourself from supportive people that want nothing but the best for you.
5. Keep busy – don’t get into the student routine of late nights and even later mornings. Where pyjama days are the norm and breakfast is no longer a necessary meal. This is a devilish cycle, one you must avoid if you want your days to be productive. Find yourself a new hobby or rekindle an old passion. Whether this be finally learning that new instrument or resurfacing your old sketchbook.
6. Get whatever job you can
You are not lowering your standards or moving back a step in your expectations, you are merely filling the void between your past and future. While looking for what adults term a “real” job, get anything menial that gives you a reason to get up in the morning, gets you out the house and helps maintain a light cash flow that will enable you to live a little more independently.
7. Keep good company
Reinitiate contact with old friends and maintain friendships with the new. Those you shared experiences with at uni, pretty much know what you are going through and can make you feel slightly less alone and helpless. It is important to have supportive people around you. Now your uni friends are scattered across the country, more effort is required. Text regularly, set up a group chat, or meet up at gigs throughout the year.
8. Don’t get disheartened
You want to get your foot on the ladder, or in the door – anywhere that’s not lying restlessly at the end of your unmade bed – I get it. But before this, expect disappointment, rejection and criticism (sounds marvellous doesn’t it) but maintain a sense of humour and don’t take life too seriously.
9. Remember, there is no time span or job title to success
Do not rush or put pressure on yourself to move faster than is possible or necessary. Just because you were seemingly catapulted out of education does not mean you have to catapult yourself into a career. Something that has taken the longest to embrace is the state of ambiguous limbo. This is not permanent nor is it purgatory. This does not give you permission to become complacent and indifferent to opportunities, but merely encouraging you to embrace your current circumstance but not to accept your fate.
10. Look back with fondness, NOT regret
I repeat, DO NOT look back on your Uni Years as a time of ‘what if’ just because you can’t seem to find your feet once you’re out. Remember just because you come out feeling lost, this does not mean you’re a failure or that you no longer know who you are or where you belong, it simply means you don’t know where you are going – and honestly sometimes this is more exciting than knowing exactly where you are.