My whole school life prepared me for university, nothing at school prepared me for life afterwards. If I go to university my life will be sorted… or so we are led to believe. We are sold many dreams of what life will be like after university, with no real explanation of how to get them. My uni told us a statistic like 90% of graduates gets jobs straight from leaving university. Sounds amazing… yet the reality is these jobs are likely to be nothing to do with the degree they have. I work in retail and completed my degree in Applied Physics. I have all this knowledge that I have spent three solid years working on, with now nowhere to apply it to.
I’ve suffered from mental health issues for a considerable amount of years. It has been a constant battle of ups and downs. I find change hard. I knew the transition to university would be difficult for me, but I didn’t realise how difficult the change back would be. I didn’t realise how lonely I would feel watching life and university life go by without me. I was fortunate in the fact that I lived on campus for three years; meaning that whenever I felt lonely or depressed, there was usually always someone around. I could walk from my room to the library and would guarantee to bump into someone I knew. Which would usually lead me to go to the student union bar instead of the library… Since coming home from university, I’ve not got the friends I have been used to. I have one best friend who is amazing and I have a few acquaintances… people I see now and again… but that is it. At university, in my final year, I had established a large group of friends, so there was always someone to do something with. Now my best friend works and is at university, and so if she is busy, then I do not really know what to do with myself. I am not sure how to develop adult friendships at home, adult life is not like university or school where there are people for you to be friends with. It is tough to try to develop friendships, so I just constantly feel like an irritant to those I do talk to. It makes me wish I had been more popular in school and that I had a friendship group to come back home to. However, I know to be fortunate for the few true friends I have, as others do not have any at all.
While I feel incredibly lucky to be living with my parents, I sometimes wish I was living with my university friends. I wish I was living with people in the same boat as me. Currently, I am surrounded by family members who are married or popping out children. They live lives that I cannot relate to and if I am honest I do not see myself settling down anytime soon. This furthers the feeling of loneliness and that I am not good enough. So not only do I have hardly any friends nearby, but I am also single. Another lie we were fed on university life, that our soulmate would meet us and we’d live happily ever after. However, in my 3 years, I had a grand total of ZERO relationships. So now like the friendship situation, I’m not sure how you now meet guys. Where do people find dates in the adult world because online dating is not the one? Any tips would be grand…
Graduating university is hard, graduating university in the middle of a pandemic when you couldn’t say goodbye to your friends is harder. No finale summer ball, no last night out with those who have kept me sane for the last three years. Just a quick goodbye to those who were on campus and a rush to pack my bags before lockdown hit. The first few weeks of lockdown were survivable, daily FaceTime calls with my friends all over the world. We were all in the same boat. Back home to isolation or back into jobs that we had before university. However now some normality has resumed some of my friends are back to uni, others in graduate jobs, and it feels like everyone is thriving. Everyone is thriving but me.
With all of this also comes the pressure that I’m wasting my life. I thought I would figure out at university what job I’d want when I finished, but if anything it’s led me to be more confused. I’m fortunate to have a job at the minute and know that there are so many friends of mine who are unemployed bouncing from one rejection to the next. I find that my life outside of work is quite dull and my life inside work can some days be emotionally draining. It leads me to live in a state of numbness. Where days turn to weeks and weeks have turned into months. I do not feel like I have succeeded at anything these past few months. I do wonder some nights if my degree was worth it or if I am in any better a situation than before I had a degree. If anything I am more uncertain of what the right decision for my future is. There is a lot of pressure that society and I have put on myself. I tell myself that I am in £40,000 debt and need a job that is worthy of this amount of money. I feel totally lost and overwhelmed about what the right career choice is. I wish I was someone who always knew they wanted to be a vet or had a burning desire to be a nurse. Because I simply feel hopeless with not knowing what is next. However, my indecisive behaviour makes me feel like I am wasting time. However, I now understand that I am still young and I have time to try out different careers. If one doesn’t work out then there are plenty more out there for me to try.
They say university is the best three years but all I can do is sit back and analyse the times I spent. Did I spend too many nights in the library, or depressed in my room? Did I waste too many nights out crying over boys who don’t mean anything to me now? Did I waste the best three years of my life? It’s questions that keep me up at night. I know when looking back at all the Snapchat memories that pop up every day that I made the most out of my three years but there were so many things I still wanted to do. So many adventures I still wanted to complete with my friends. I love looking through my photo albums to see all the antics I got up to, but it feels so bittersweet. Part of me knows my life will never be like that again and misses it. I miss my life of living in the moment and being spontaneous. Part of me knows my liver would not cope with it again… (Why I went out three nights sometimes more a week is beyond me, RIP my savings.) I am trying to be more hopeful and tell myself that the best years of my life are still ahead of me. However, the saying that university is the ‘greatest years of your life’ buzzes around my brain constantly. While I had a good time at university I am not sure that statement rings true. I enjoyed some aspects of university life but some were incredibly difficult too. I have been finding it hard to be optimistic about the future when dealing with depression. It puts this cloud over the future and glorifies the past. I can’t seem to separate in my brain that university did have its lows, it’s like my head just brushes past them. I have been trying to put current life into perspective to try to ease my brains overthinking. Life is pretty tough right now, but it is still way better than some of the lows I experienced at university. I am eating, sleeping properly and navigating day to day life, which is better than some weeks at university. I think social media ruins me, I will compare my current life to others and see that they are all still living their best lives. The images they put on social media do not show their struggles so as usual, I am comparing my nitty-gritty life to the best versions of their lives they are putting on social media. So, I guess this whole article of waffle is also saying if any of you have been looking at my Instagram and thinking I am living a good life. Know that I basically work a 50 hour week, cry a lot and only occasionally do exciting things. I am still posting old pictures from my summer getaway to France, and I am trying to grow accustomed to adult life. A life I am struggling to accept.
Life is weird. No one prepared me for what adulthood is, and so I’m going to just try my best to navigate through it. If you are still at university or just about to start, count yourself lucky every day. University is hard, but the memories you make will play through your mind for years to come. I will forever be grateful for all the good and the bad I experienced. Here’s to whatever is next for me. I will grow through it all and so will you. Know if you are feeling alone and struggling with graduate blues there are charities out there where you can get help. You are not alone. COVID and graduating in 2020 is tough, but you will bloom into a wonderful adult eventually. Take adult life at your own pace, you are doing great.
All the love,
Queen Clo x