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esmecampbell
9th April 2024

Graduation looms. Please don’t send me out into the big bad world

With the curtain closing on my student days, I’m anxiously anticipating life after graduation – and I’m not handling it well
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Graduation looms. Please don’t send me out into the big bad world
Credit: Karolina Grabowska @ Pexels

Graduation is leering at me over the horizon, bringing its old friend with it: the end of an era. But the looming end of my university days is not the prettiest sight from where I’m sat in my deckchair of denial, and I have been all too keen to cover my eyes with one hand and flip it off with the other.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to graduating – especially waving goodbye to the record-breaking cortisol levels in my bloodstream, courtesy of a life of perpetual due dates. And for someone who gets easily stressed under the pressure of deadlines and time constraints, my ambition for a career in journalism may well be Stockholm Syndrome. But with a Master’s off the table for me (because I’m not rolling in it,) I am forced to reconcile with my departure from the student life and the comforts that come with it. Goodbye to the easy life; hello big, bad world.

The all-encompassing question of ‘What next?’ is curdling in my mouth. How do I navigate a life after graduation? Where do I even begin?

These are the pressures I have been hiding in the shadows from. They say the world is your oyster, but we all know that finding the jackpot pearl is rare. I may have my sights set on a desired career path, but getting my feet on it is a whole other struggle, and in this economy, my hopes for the post-university life I idealise slip further out of reach every day. I’ll have to start selling my organs if I want to keep renting with my friends instead of moving back in with my parents. (Cheers for that one, Rishi).

I feel as though I’m being thrown into the world blindfolded, booted out the backdoor of everything I have known up until now without so much as a compass to direct me. On my more optimistic days, I consider all the opportunities laid out in front of me with excitement and promise, but this just as quickly gets squashed by the cost of living crisis and the government’s noose around every young person’s throat.

Not to mention employment rates have been unstable thanks to Covid-19 and Liz Truss’ bright ideas about the economy which increased inflation in her impressive 40 days as Prime Minister. She’s a right spark, that one. Now students graduating this year have to manage a job sector seeing increasing cuts, which doesn’t bode well for our prospects. I would very much like not to have to go back into hospitality to make ends meet, but it seems like this is the most attainable option for many freshly graduated students recently.

I could really do with some sort of pamphlet instructing me on where to go from here. The feared post-grad limbo I’m anticipating gives Fleabag’s confession speech a whole new weight to it; if someone could just tell me what to do, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting it wrong.

But there is, of course, an enticing temptation in the freedom to choose what to do after university. Faced with so many possibilities can be daunting, but also a comfort. Without having done a degree that sets me on a specific route, my options are (theoretically) broad. Although, for an overthinker like me, this is both a blessing and a curse.

Alas, the consuming considerations of where I want to live, with whom, how I could afford it, where I apply for jobs, whether I’ll land a job I enjoy, and what I generally want out of my life continue to haunt my waking thoughts. So the logical conclusion I arrive at is ignoring them. I’m every therapist’s worst nightmare.

I am comfortably safe in my student bubble, hiding from responsibilities and flittering away my student loan on trivial pleasures, thank you very much. My fear and self-doubt about my future are, quite frankly, ruining the vibes. They are NOT invited to my denial party.

So, for now, when these concerns arise, I will (very healthily) pretend they’re nothing more than fictional. But once I’m thrown into the job market by my ankles, I will try to navigate it with optimism. And, hey, if I ever get desperate, there’s always Pandora’s in Fallowfield.


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