Life After Uni: the reality of post-graduation blues
Sarah Marsh - July 10, 2017
Sarah Marsh - July 10, 2017
‘Best years of your life.’
‘Make the most of it while it lasts!’
‘It goes so fast!’
We’ve all heard them – the standard phrases used to describe your years at university. Like you need reminding that living a life filled with friends, exciting opportunities and long vacations, with all the freedom of adulthood but few of its responsibilities, is an amazing – and finite – experience. It’s no surprise that graduation is a bitter-sweet occasion; the elation of having achieved your degree is coupled with the knowledge that it’s not just coursework and exams that have come to an end.
“I had a degree certificate that told me I’d succeeded, but I felt like a failure. And I thought I was the only one.”
Most graduates are aware that moving into the ‘real world’ is likely to be a shock to the system, and that they’ll miss significant aspects of their uni days. But for many, post-graduation blues go beyond just missing your friends and weekday nights out. Experts have struggled to assess the extent of the problem, but most agree that it seems to be growing.
The truth is, there are a huge number of contributing factors. Rising living costs and a poor employment market mean many graduates are moving back home – a difficult step to take after the freedom and independence of living alone. Uncertainty about what they want – or how to achieve it – leave many graduates feeling directionless and lost. Friendship groups break up as people scatter all over the world for work, resulting in weakened support networks. All these things, and more, are creating a significant group of graduates who struggle to get over the loss of their university life.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix; moving on from something you love is always going to be hard. However, if you’re a new graduate, here’s my advice: talk about it. My experience of post-graduation was pretty rough. I didn’t have a job lined up, so was going through the (miserable) rollercoaster of job applications, interviews, and rejections. I didn’t have a career plan, and felt that every day I didn’t have one, I was falling further behind the curve. I missed my friends. I had a degree certificate that told me I’d succeeded, but I felt like a failure. And I thought I was the only one.
It turns out, plenty of my friends were feeling the same way; even the ones who seemed to have their career and post-uni life sorted. If I’d actually talked to them about it, I could have extinguished the sense of isolation I’d developed. If I’d talked to my family, they would have been able to understand and support me better.
Looking back, I’m convinced that if I’d talked to someone – anyone – I would have made it through one of the most challenging times of my life much more quickly.
The emotional challenges faced by graduates shouldn’t be underestimated, and they may not be easily overcome, but they certainly shouldn’t be faced alone. If you’re graduating now – or in the future – be prepared for the fact that it might not be smooth sailing, and think about who you’ll rely on if it isn’t.
If you are struggling, remember there is plenty of support and advice available online. We would particularly recommend Mind.0rg for advice and Big White Wall – a community where you can anonymously discuss your feelings.