It has been over a year since I finished my University degree. Writing that feels bizarre, as it seems like the last 12 months have stretched into feeling like a lifetime, and yet it still doesn’t feel that long ago. If you’re graduating in 2016, I know exactly how you’re feeling. Excited about new opportunities, incredibly sad about leaving uni life behind, and also terrified that you’ll never make anything of your life. It’s a tough time, but I’m here to promise you that it will all fall into place somehow.

If you’d told me that I would have moved to London within three months of finishing my degree, got a job that I absolutely love, and be living on my own, I don’t think I would have believed you. And yet all that did happen, and I’ve become completely self-sufficient.

There’s no denying that the first year outside of education is terrifying – but you can get through it. Here’s how.

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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.

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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.

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At every single stage of life we have a different type of pressure on us. At uni, it was that we had to be with the best friends having the best times constantly. I thought that would lift when I graduated, and it has, but it’s been replaced with the massive pressure to make something of my life. Right now, that means a graduate should get the best possible job with lots of responsibility and hopes of promotion while being able to support yourself away from home for the first time in your life. Somehow, I’ve actually managed to achieve most of that and honestly, living completely without handouts from your family or the government in the form of student loans is incredibly empowering.

But what isn’t empowering is the thought that now that I’m working, like many of my just-graduated friends, we’ll be working until we’re easily getting towards our 70s. My friend Jess just got a letter to confirm that she had started a pension. She’ll be able to start receiving the money in 2060. That’s over fourty years of five weeks holiday per year and living for the weekends. A job might be the ultimate success on the surface, but we can’t seem to handle it straight after the freedom of University. A stable job at 21-years-old is not what my circle of friends seem to strive for. We want to get out when we’ve barely even gotten in.

That’s why so many of us want to travel long, far and soon. We are a generation who refuses to be tied down by work, homes or anything else. We want freedom. I’m not sure where I want to go, but I’ve had a look around and here are some places that will appeal to a lot of wanderlust-filled recent grads.

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