In June 2018, I graduated from Durham University. I cannot believe it has been (just over) a year. A whole year. What a year it has been.
At present, I’m juggling a job at M&S, freelance writing projects & working part-time for BBC Radio Lincolnshire. The latter is something that began very recently, and I feel so privileged (and a little overwhelmed) to have been given this unbelievable opportunity. I’m excited to see where the next 365 days will take me.
But it’s also been a rocky 12 months, and I’m keen to be very honest, and open about that. There’s a definite lack of transparency when it comes to talking about our post-graduation journeys, and sharing both the highs… and the lows.
I chose the word ‘journeys’ for a very specific reason. Every journey is fundamentally an individual exercise. Even if undertaken, on a very literal level, as part of a group, each person will have to take on different challenges and will both – excel – and fail – at different times.
As one of thousands of graduates – this could not be more relevant. Yet this is something that has taken me a whole year to both realise, and more importantly – appreciate.
At times, I’ve felt my post-grad ‘journey’ was not going as planned. This is slightly hard to explain, or understand, because I didn’t exactly have a plan. Bare with me on this. I realise it’s a slightly ridiculous premise. Imagine how my poor parents feel.
I’d just had 21 years of some sort of plan. I hadn’t had this much flexibility in what was next – since – well – ever – and after initial feelings of liberation, it steadily became quite frightening.
‘Post-grad blues’ was something I tried to laugh off when my Mum first approached me about it. But now? I kind of get it. It was a real adjustment, and initially, I struggled.
I’d just experienced such intense stresses: exams, deadlines, results… and colossal highs: graduation, a trip to Canada… that coming home with no clue as to what was next, was a total emotional contrast.
For a few months, and completely unexpectedly, I felt quite low. I’ve put this down to feeling so disorientated, aimless, and let’s be honest – the endless stream of job rejections did not help.
It has taken time to come to terms with the fact that it’s okay not to know. It’s natural to feel stressed and a little scared about the future. But it’s not natural to let those feelings outweigh any others, which, for a short while, they did.
I felt as though I’d done the hard part (the degree), and that although what was next would carry its own challenges – it would, in a sense, be ‘easier’. Staggeringly naive, I now realise.
Before I go on – I would like to clarify – I am not trying to write a ‘woe-is-me’ piece. I’m incredibly lucky, and privileged, in so many ways. I recognise, and appreciate that.
All I’m trying to say, is that I’ve found this year, at times, really tough. I’ve compared myself to others, I’ve allowed job rejections to feel very personal, and I’ve spent too many hours feeling stressed about being confused. In short, three very unproductive uses of my time.
But now? I’m trying to ignore that sense of what I ‘should’, or ‘should not’ be doing right now. Everyone has their own personal timeline, and there’s no right or wrong time to be doing anything. Whether it’s securing the dream job… moving out… travelling the world… buying a car… settling down… all these things will happen when they happen.
SO, in the spirit of recognising how colourful, complex and challenging this past year has been, I’ve taken the time to list some of the highs, and some of the lows… I hope they encourage you to reflect on your own journeys over the last year or so…
Not so great things:
A lot of rejection. A fair few terrible job interviews. Many an ignored application.
Crying in the freezer at M&S. I’m not even joking. Combination of Christmas stress, limited staff, and a focaccia-obsessed customer. WHO EVEN EATS A FOCACCIA AT CHRISTMAS?! Not pretty.
Too much Instagram scrolling. Very toxic stuff. Everyone is ALWAYS having a better time than you (or seems to be…)
Crying on the A1. Dual carriageways terrify me, and I find joining so stressful. There’s a lot of crying here I’m noticing, I’m like, super tough, I’d like to add.
Coordinating adult schedules is SO HARD. Finding out that, realistically, the next time you can meet up with pals is the third Tuesday of November: for twenty-five minutes. Thank goodness for FaceTime/WhatsApp.
Learning the hard way that you need to look after yourself – both physically & mentally, or it WILL catch up with you. I had a red nose for the majority of December. No, I was not trying to be festive.
Trips to see pals. Durham, Alnwick, York, Leeds, London… I’ve whizzed up and down the country (thanks LNER).
Figuring out that writing is my thing. Getting my first (paid!) commission from Journo Resources in March. Still buzzing to be honest.
Exploring my clothing options. In the pursuit of trying to build a better relationship with my body, I’m taking things into the changing rooms that I wouldn’t previously have even considered. Currently LOVING culottes.
Auditioning for BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s ‘Be The One’ competition. This has (somehow!) developed into the most incredible opportunity. I’m beyond excited.
Car confidence. If someone had told me this time last year, that I’d be driving to and from Lincoln – alone – I’d never have believed them. Miracles do happen.
Spending time with family. Cheering on my brother at Waterpolo games. FaceTiming my Canadian relatives. Days out with Mum & Dad.
Finally – developing this blog. Massive THANK YOU to everyone who reads, shares, likes, retweets, loves, comments, messages… ironically – I can’t put into words how much it means to me. I so so appreciate the support. Thank you xo