Post-University Limbo: “So What’s Next?”

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As you may know, I have recently finished university for good and have now moved back in with my parents. To begin with, it was really calming to be back and have time to myself as final year had been quite stressful for me, but now I am finding myself stuck in this ‘post university- finding a job’ limbo. On the surface, it sounds pretty great. An extra summer holiday if you like. Time off to do whatever I want. However, in reality, most of my day is spent online doing job applications with the occasional feeling of impending doom as I realise I don’t actually know what my next step in life is.

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Like every recent graduate, I am tired of hearing the question “so what’s next?” It is the question that plagues us all as every auntie and distant cousin is suddenly eager to offer career advice.

From starting primary school to the last weeks of being an undergraduate, we have always had something to look forward. From meeting deadlines, reading, taking exams, studying, completing projects and registering for next semester’s classes; there has always been something we’re working towards. Suddenly, the excitement and relief of a quickly approaching graduation hits, but it is blurred with a sense of apprehension about figuring out what is next.

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Finishing university can feel like losing part of your identity. Your expired student card restricts your access around campus and no longer provides those much needed shopping discounts. You receive an email that notifies you of the ‘IMMINENT CLOSURE’ of your student email account. Your access to student health, careers, mental health and accommodation services are cut off and you are now expected to know how all these things work in the real world. The easy opportunities to make new friends are suddenly taken away from you. Instead, you receive a brief ‘congratulations’ message from the university, with a link to the Alumni LinkedIn page, and you’re sent on your merry way.

Your university bubble has been popped and you’re left floating in the ‘real world’ of job applications, crippling debt and unattainable careers. You’re left to move back to your parent’s house after years of freedom and independence, with no solid form of income, no plan, and no purpose.

I’m the sort of person that likes to have something to aim for; I like to set goals. I was like this throughout my degree, even in the final weeks when I should have been excited by the freedom that was quickly approaching me. This feeling has been troubling me for the past few weeks as it is so hard to make goals when you have no idea where life is going to take you. In a sense, I feel like I have taken a big step forward in achieving my degree, but then two steps back. I’ve moved back home to a town where there are no opportunities for me, I’m unemployed and the competition for jobs is extremely high.

Like me, some graduates don’t have everything figured out straight after university. What I’ve learned these past few weeks is that everyone has their own way of doing things. It is solely up to you how fast or slow you want to take your life. The best thing to do is be proactive in what you’re planning or preparing to do.

Society dictates that certain things should happen at certain points in our lives, yet I have come to realise that there is no rush. No rule says I have to have a high-flying career, be earning over a certain amount of money and buy my own house by the time I am 25, just as no rule says I have to sit around moping when I feel a little bit lost.

I am determined to enjoy this time and I am excited to see where it takes me.

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