I’ll admit it, I was pretty wrapped up in my insular life at uni.The whole set up of my campus uni catered to the creation of the ‘bubble’ kind of lifestyle; where the goings-on of this particular bubble was the focal point of most people’s life and they (including myself) were relatively oblivious to the realities of the outside world. Everything focussed on the group of people I knew and socialised with.
What happened last night, who’s going for coffee for who, who wore what to the library… and then, who is applying to which grad schemes, who’s been offered THAT job, who’s moving to Australia for a really cool and chilled new life and who got a FIRST. Uni was a never-ending cycle of knowing really far too much about everyone else’s lives and as a result, often feeling faintly inadequate and fiercely competitive. I mistakenly believed that graduating would allow me a much-needed escape from this all enveloping bubble. However, that was not to be the case. As I’m sure many others encounter regularly, it is almost impossible nowadays to avoid something you don’t want to know about – thank you, social media.
Almost immediately, I was inn-undated with insta stories of ‘first day officially working’ or boomerangs of girls outside a new house or rented flat, or people sunning themselves on holiday before ‘real work begins’. I regularly met up with my friends and the constant chat about people’s grad jobs, co workers or just how great it is to be in London started to wear thin. Honestly, for a while I dreaded these sort of social events. Call me the green-eyed monster, call me whatever you want – but something started working away inside me. Surely my idea to take a gap year after uni was a great idea? Surely I was going to have so much more fun travelling than all these working bores? But then again, they all seem so settled, civilised and sophisticated. It wasn’t really helped by my long (and still continuing) struggle to find meaningful temporary work to fund my travelling. I’ve done my fair share of waitressing and pot washing over the years and desperately wanted a job that would give me a bit of experience. Alas, despite applying to dozens of office jobs in my local towns, my search was relatively fruitless and I began to despair. As I know is very common with the traditional job hunt, I received very little acknowledgement of my applications, even less feedback and a grand total of 1 interviews. What, I thought, is wrong with me ?
I’ve got a 2:1 in academic subject from a good university, tonnes of experience from part-time jobs and a carefully planned CV – so what’s the issue? However, my struggle has only highlighted how increasingly hard it is for graduates to find decent work nowadays; despite working hard at uni and racking up some serious debt to go alongside. I’ve been reading countless articles and blogs that have reassured me that I’m not alone, yet this trend is worrying.
It didn’t help either that following graduation and the attached fun of summer, I’d suddenly lost the structure and routine of university, the convenience of friendships and the fun on tap. I suddenly began to feel and still do, slightly lost and at sea in my remote home town, miles from anything serious or exciting. I’m sure many may say (and have said), welcome to the real world Liv! Oh I understand, I promise and I’m constantly berating myself to get over this indulgent pity party. I know it’s part of maturing. But, this feeling exists and I know it to be true for many, many other graduates, having spoken to friends feeling very similar (although you would never have thought due to the wonderful highlight reel of social media!) and reading articles that confirm it’s a phenomenon.
In an article by Dusty Baxter-Wright and Mollie Davies for Cosmopolitan, post university depression and ‘blues’ is discussed candidly. Let’s get this straight, in no way am I claiming that I am depressed, but I can clearly see how one might become so after university. I’ve certainly had some pretty crap down days in this period and it’s easy to understand how this might spiral. It’s an incredibly uncertain time after university, with the black cloud of expectation and pressure constantly lingering in the background (cue family and parent’s friends questioning you constantly, raising eyebrows at the ‘post uni gap year’) and the security of the uni structure has been removed. I’m glad it’s been discussed so openly in Cosmopolitan and I hope this issue gets more traction in the year to come. It’s a weird time for graduates in this ever-changing world.
Cosmopolitan article: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/worklife/campus/a22575047/post-university-depression/