People like to say that the best days of your life will be as a University student, and they could be right. I had an amazing time living and studying in Sheffield, and that city will always have a special place in my heart. In third year, I was too busy to properly think about leaving, let alone what I would do with my life once I was no longer in full-time education. Graduation is the essentially going into great unknown for the first time in our lives, and it’s tough.
Having to deal with all the stresses and strains of real adult life isn’t easy. Add a new job and expensive rent to the fact that you no longer live with your best friends, and it’s a breeding ground for sadness. My support system was suddenly on the other side of a capital city, rather than on the other side of the hall.
It’s nearly time for another year ground of dedicated students to swap their dissertations for a cap and gown. If you’re one of them, it’s worth remembering that the next year is not going to be all sunshine and rainbows, but you will grow as a person and come out stronger on the other side.
When I left uni, I pottered around with holidays and graduation until the time came where I had to admit that it was time to start job hunting. It quickly became clear that all the jobs that I wanted to do were based in London, so my choice was obvious. I waved goodbye to my family in the Midlands and my friends up North and moved down South. The first few months were tough. It’s difficult to meet new people here, even though it’s the more densely populated part of the country. I’ve always suffered with FOMO, and now that I lived on my own it felt like I was really missing out. The days of slobbing around in front of the TV every night with housemates were gone and they were replaced with making my own fun.
It may sound a little bleak, but so much goodness came from this experience. I learned to spend time on my own without feeling lonely. I fell in love with London. I discovered the importance of well-made plans. And friends who are committed to maintaining your friendship become so much more important.
It’s becoming more widely known that University is a breeding ground for depression, but no-one is really talking about what happens after we leave. For some, I’m sure the end of exams and essays will lighten their mental outlook and they’ll be much more optimistic. But with 64% of women at University with clinical anxiety, it’s not like mental illness is going to be an issue that will fade away overnight.
So if you’re about to graduate and it feels like there’s a big, black hole about to swallow you up, don’t worry. It might just eat you, but it will spit you back out again. You survived the stress of uni, so you can definitely get through the bleakness of graduate life. Good luck. You got this.