The Trials and Tribulations of a New Graduate

I am a person who loves to plan and have a clear structure to my days. After writing a detailed To-Do list, I send myself off to sleep at night imagining a step by step run though of how my tomorrow will pan out. I have To-Do lists for the day ahead, the year ahead and a massively long Bucket List. I am that person who is freakishly obsessed with control over their own future; tomorrow and beyond.

There are major flaws to my structured days, however, and these are primarily, that I seem to have no concept of time or emotions. Although I get ridiculously aggravated to the point of tears when I have not achieved everything on my days list, I still have not yet learned that I am not a robot with an endless quantity of hours. Recently, I have also discovered that sometimes I actually might not particularly like the reality of my plans.

I am a new graduate and in the midst of my final year of university stress, I decided that after treating myself to a Solo-Trip through Europe, I would move back home, work for one of the local businesses and re-stock for the next stage in my life. In my head it was a perfect plan; a gap year without the backpack and bankruptcy. However, the reality is far from the dream.

I should start by firstly pointing out that I do realise how lucky I am to have any job and great parents who welcomed me back into their home with their blessedly archaic notions of rent; but I am not one hundred percent satisfied.

Moving back into a small countryside town where your business is everyone’s business, past sins are never forgotten and austerity is felt in every corner was probably not the wisest move for someone who has just left the beautiful bubble of university life. In the past few weeks I have come to loathe the sympathetic but smug look I receive when telling my peers’ parents that, unlike their off-spring, I am back at home and not working in relation to my degree. I loathe my new-found ability to fixate on the articles in the newspaper relating the awful plight of new graduates (whilst at university I had this amazing ability to quietly dismiss them). I loathe the implication made by those in the same situation as me, that we are part of some quaint, cosy club; one, mostly, made up of arts students who failed to pick a degree that produced a job at the end.

University did not prepare me for the life I am in. Not at one point in my four years did I attend a seminar on How to Survive Post-University Life on the Dole or How To Cope When Your Dream Job Becomes Available But A Degree Is Not Enough. Neither did someone sit me down and explain to me that life in the big bad world of real adulthood is a maze that is nigh on impossible to navigate, especially when you are part of the generation whose future prospects are the bleakest since the Second World War.

It is so easy to blame other people, but yet I am not entirely without fault. I blindly walked into applying for my degree course, took out the student loans and failed to read the writing on the wall (or indeed in every newspaper and periodical) about graduate prospects. Yes, I have a life-plan of sorts, a job and a roof over my head but I cannot help but feel strangely discombobulated over the current situation I find myself in.

Surrounded by people who either think I wasted my time or failed at the first hurdle, I am struggling to justify myself. Fundamentally I think I am missing the luxurious life that university brings. My Life-After-University plan did not take into consideration that I would be restless for a challenge, frustrated at my prospects, grateful for any offer of employment or financial assistance, anxious about debt-repayment, angry at the lies I was fed about the prospects university education opens up, shameful for appearing ungrateful, hopeful for change and desperate to actually use the skills I gained at university, all at some point every single day.

I am a person who loves to plan and have a clear structure to my days. I left university with what seemed to me a perfect plan but now I am beginning to realise that that may not be the case. Every day provokes a range of emotions and self-doubt. Being a new graduate today is very hard, and unfortunately university does not efficiently prepare us for life in the post-academic world. I am uncertain of whether or not my Life-Plan will work out but I am one hundred percent certain that I am not the only new graduate to feel like a small fish fresh out of a secure and comfortable tank.

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3 thoughts on “The Trials and Tribulations of a New Graduate

  1. I’ve heard many graduates feel like you do, a bit stuck. I’ve yet to graduate myself, so all of this worries me some. Would you have any advice for a second year student on the topic of post-graduation? All the best for your future!

    1. I think it is definitely better if you know what you want to do. My advice would be to really take advantage of all the opportunities university gives you, such as joining societies and access to internships etc. These give you the chance to work out what you do and don’t like doing which is helpful when you come to draw up career ideas. I think that if you are aware of the challenges facing new graduates too then it is a bit easier. Like I said, I liked to be blissfully ignorant of such articles about the subject which then meant my crash to reality was much harder. Best of luck with your course and I hope things have improved for you in a couple of years time when you’re a new graduate!

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