Hi everyone, remember me?
Long time no speak, huh (6 months to be exact). I feel sort of bad for the neglect of this blog, but I feel even worse due to the fact that I have no real excuse for it – I guess I just have to say that life got in the way. But, I thought I would take this opportunity today to re-awaken my blogging brain by reflecting on graduating and life beyond it.
This time 365 days ago I was in the middle of my University graduation ceremony. I had worked so hard for three years to juggle essays, extra curricular activities, self care and a social life and managed to come out the end of it with a 1st Class degree and a ‘Graduate Award’. I had such a lovely day and that feeling of walking across the stage and being handed my degree was indescribable (if only slightly anti-climactic).
And then real life hit. I found myself back in London, living at home, and if I’m being honest feeling quite isolated. This was in part due to the fact that out of my circle of friends from both University and school, I was one of the few people who had actually finished for good. They had either taken gap years, were on 4 year courses/masters, had taken a year abroad or had changed degree courses. Out of the ones who had graduated with me, barely any lived down my neck of the woods, and some had continued to live with each other up in Sheffield.
I had decided in my head that I was going to take a loose ‘year out’. I graduated just a few days after turning 21, which by most accounts is pretty young, and I had been in formal education constantly since the age of 4. I wanted to take time to get my head straight, wind down and decide what to do next. I went through multiple jobs to get me by, from working in cafes to ‘chugging’ on the streets of London through freezing snow and rain – I actually don’t think I’ve ever experienced as much exhaustion as I did during that period. As the months went on, I started comparing myself to everyone around me. At the risk of sounding too Daft Punk, to me they were all working harder, better or faster than me. I began realising that I wasn’t wanting to achieve my goals for myself, but because it would be something could be used to one-up others.
One of the hardest things I found about the time leading up to and just after graduating was the constant expectation of having a life plan. “How does someone go about getting into radio?” was a common question I was asked by friends and adults alike, to which I could only really respond “I’m not really sure if I’m honest, you tell me”. The truth was, what I didn’t want to admit was I was doing all the things I thought were right – I was networking, attending events, panels and workshops. I went on media courses and employability courses, I learnt about personal branding and CV’s. The only problem was it just didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere.
There is a lot to be said in taking pleasure in the small things. The year wasn’t without its highs – I started a podcast which is something I’d been talking about doing for a long time, I didn’t fail at ALL my new year’s resolutions and I donated almost all of my hair to charity. Perhaps most importantly, I finally managed to convince someone to give me a proper job in the industry of my dreams. In fact, I started off as an intern, and while I’m sure I wouldn’t have been given the job without having the experience and skills that I had, the formal stuff would only have taken me so far. In all honesty, I credit it to the fact that I just worked harder than I ever had before – and I didn’t mind, because I was doing what I loved.
The point of this post isn’t to enable me to be negative and full of regret. It’s also not intended to scare anyone who has just graduated about what might be in store for them. So many people see their friends or fellow graduates seeming to achieve their dreams and start to loose faith in their own – I know I certainly did. And yet here I am, a year later, doing what I’m good at in a job I love and finally feeling confident about where I’m going. It wasn’t easy – there were so many days and weeks and even months that I questioned everything I was doing, and there’s no way I would jinx anything and say I have everything fully sussed out just yet. There are still days that I feel insecure, like I’ve tricked everyone into thinking I’m capable. I guess what I’m saying is that everyone moves at a different pace. While some people may need the security of already having a job once they graduate, a fair few (like me), will need to take time to make sure they’re doing something they enjoy.
If you’ve just graduated, or even if you still feel like you’re barely staying afloat a year on, just know that you are not alone. It’s a scary time, made even worse by the toxicity of comparison and feelings of inadequacy. It’s impossible to have your life 100% together, and it would be disingenuous to pretend that you do. So all I can say is breathe in, breathe out and take it one step at a time – because we’re all still just figuring it out, and that’s ok.