Fear of the Unknown: What Happens After I Graduate?

Graduation

You could say my whole life has been leading up to this moment. After 18 years in education, the day I don the cap and gown will be a momentous occasion. It marks the end to my lifetime in education. It also marks a new chapter in my life, or the ‘after-life’ as I like to call it. Am I prepared? Hell no. Should I have my life in order? Most likely.

Next week, I finish classes for the Christmas holidays. Semester one will have been and gone. This means I’m halfway through my final year and a lot closer to that graduation ceremony. I’ve already written about five things I was fearing about final year. That was the week before it began, and now halfway through, I’m still fearful of everything on that list.

I don’t feel in any way prepared to finish university and am at quite a loss for what to do once I receive my degree certificate (fingers crossed). But who’s to blame for my feeling unprepared? The university? My lecturers? The people around me? Or myself?

I couldn’t tell you the hours I spend constantly worrying about July/August 2019. I will have graduated and expect to be moving somewhere new, working in my new full-time PR job or heading off to travel the world. I expect myself to know what to do. I always have a plan in place and know my next move, I always have. But right now? I’m at a complete loss. Below are some questions and fears I have about graduating.

Post-Grad depression

I’ve only recently heard of this term and am already afraid I’m going to feel it once I graduate. That sudden realisation that your education days are over and it’s now into the real world for the rest of your life. No more structure, stability or known plan in place for the next so many years.

I think a lot of people feel the slump after graduation, that there’s no so much pressure on them to get a job and for some of us, we might feel an added pressure to get a great job that will look good on social media. A PR blogger that can’t land herself a PR job? Where’s the credibility in that? Why should you believe anything I write?

I think when we broadcast so much of our lives on social media and spaces such as this, that there’s an expectation that comes with it. I had an amazing placement year, have won an award for my blog and continue to write about everything surrounding PR. So what if I can’t get a job at the end of my degree? Or have to move home? Or have to go back to working as a waitress? Why do I care so much about what my life looks like to other people?

Will I have to move home?

What if the first full-time job I get doesn’t let me pay my rent alongside living comfortably? What if I don’t even get a full-time job? I’ve heard how volatile the job market is, especially for those fresh out of university. It’s a competitive market place, a bit like the hunger games and it’s a ruthless battle to get a job.

I think every university student has that dread that they might have to move back home for a while. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of and in a way, makes sense so that you can save money before your next venture. But I just know that for me, personally, I’d see it as a step back rather than a step forward.

If I was to move home for a short period after graduating, I would make sure to have a strict deadline in place for moving out. I’d pay rent, do my own cooking, washing and try my best to be as independent as possible to mimic how I used to live when I was at university. I couldn’t imagine going back to living in my teenage bedroom and have a feeling it would suck every last bit of motivation from me.

Instant success will be hard to watch

There are always a few in every university course. They probably haven’t even collected their diploma yet but are already working in an entry-level position, earning big money and living their best life on social media. Yipee for them. The minor few will have had jobs lined up from their first day of university. Others will know people who know people. The remainder will have just been on the ball from an early stage and made sure they had a job lined up.

The hardest thing will be watching classmates be instantly-successful and parade all their good fortune on social media while you lie in your teenage bedroom at 2pm in the afternoon wondering what day it is.

Everyone has their own life to live and the worst trap you could fall into is comparing yours to what you see on Instagram. 99% of what you see isn’t reality and you shouldn’t feel down from seeing other people’s lives play out on social apps. Your time will come.

What about a Masters?

I suppose a way to avoid the post-grad depression and life-ever-after is by avoiding the real world altogether and being a university student for as long as possible. You could add another degree to your belt, some more letters to your name and another £10,000 of debt to your already outstanding student loan.

While it would be great to further your knowledge and add another degree to your CV, I think the longer you put off the inevitable, the worse it will be when it comes around. Plus it might not be worth the added debt and stress.

Will I say goodbye to my social life?

If you know me, or follow me on Snapchat/Instagram, then you’ll know that my social life is very important to me. I haven’t spent one Saturday night in since I moved back to Liverpool in September. I just can’t do it. Most weekends, I go out two if not three nights.

When I lived in London, the other interns weren’t much into partying or going out at the weekends and I started to feel a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out) when watching my friends in Liverpool and Lurgan post their nights out on social media. I even started to pine for a night in The Burn – the only nightclub in my town back home where I also used to work.

Once I got back to Liverpool, my social life returned and I must say, I enjoy every bit of it. I live for the weekends when I can go out with my friends, have a great time, make so many memories and talk about the goings on the whole week leading up to the next weekend where it all begins again.

I’m scared about moving to a new place like London again, where I know no one and have to sit in every weekend. Going out and partying isn’t the be-all and end-all but it’s what I love to do. I’m only 21 and I enjoy going out and having a good time. Maybe a few years working in Magaluf should be my next adventure?

The dreaded debt

I’ve been able to put it to the back of my mind for the past four years, but now that it’s almost time to graduate, I’ll be expecting a letter from the Student Loans Company in the next few months. I dread to even think what my bill will be.

I’m going to have these bills hanging over my head for quite a while as I have such a hefty bill, but when do I start the repayment process? What happens if I move to America? Or Australia? Or Dubai? What then? I really wish I knew who to talk to when it comes to repaying student loans or could get some advice on the subject.

I think this is going to be on my to-do list over the next few months, to find someone to talk me through student loans when living outside of the UK. They should really teach us this stuff, shouldn’t they?

It might be seven months away, but I’m already dreading graduating from university. I wish I had a plan in place or at least had some idea of what I want to do when the time comes. I’ve been thinking about it ever since my placement year, but still I have so many options and I’m not set on any of them. Any advice welcome.  

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