Graduation is a mere four months away. As the days and nights roll by in a haze of study sessions, coffee breaks and hangovers, July comes like a mirage emerging from the Gobi desert. Fear not, the end of uni does not mean the end of your youth. Be careful not to put uni life on a pedestal. Breathe and chant LSi’s five step mantra to survive graduate life.
The Next Chapter
It is wrong to think of uni as the last hurrah. It’s merely a launching pad. Your growth is exponential, and when you look back at how you were in Freshers’ Week, in old photos, or recounting the salad days with flatmates, you can hardly believe that was you. But by the time university ends, you can choose how you want to apply all these shiny new skills you’ve learned, through which newly found lens you want to view the world, what you want to do, how you are going to do it. The most important lesson you learn about graduate life, at least for me, is that it doesn’t matter if you hurtle towards your goals, or chip away at them as you gradually feel your way forward. All that matters is that you are going forwards, and when university ends, it’s your chance to finally do that to the best of your ability.
You’re glad you aren’t a student anymore
You soon realise that students are a creed of greasy, ungrateful lay-abouts, content to moan and take their comfortable lifestyle for granted. You’re stood in line at a shop and hear the red-eyed pimply husk a few spaces in front of you ask blithely ‘D’ya do student discount mate’? to the bloke behind the counter. When you’re trying to walk home from work, crowds of students revellers get in the way, surging past you without the slightest care; a small army dressed in togas on another Otley run. One of them spills his beer down you, before dropping the plastic cup into the road and yelling something at a stationary Amber Cab. It’s Wednesday, and its seven pm. When you graduate your glad to be out of that bracket altogether.
The bubble bursts and you feel fine
You spend your university education wondering one thing; ‘What next?’ It begins in first year as a murmur, barely audible against the backdrop of perpetual drunkenness and the bang and clatter of your 300th Otley Run. This builds into a sort of nervous chant by your second year, officially the year when things get a bit hectic. You start to go to those god-awful careers events. Mill about like a confused barnyard animal, while clean-faced corporate types offer big toothy grins and tempt you to their booths with free pens and shitty draw string bags, in what must surely be an implicit but calculated affront to your integrity. You look through pamphlets and research what your course could lead to. You lose all your free pens. ‘What am I going to do?’/ ‘What’s my plan?’ resounds through your head as dark storm clouds of final exams and dissertations loom. Among the silliness there’s some genuine fear, an honest feeling of helplessness, like you have no control. It’s all the more immediate because it is so close; a matter of months before your education is over. You have to study hard, and stretch yourself very thin.
Then, miraculously, it’s all done. You finish your exams. You leave your student flat, it’s all very emotional and you reminisce about all the filthy hovels you’ve lived in and the weird and wonderful nights out getting lashed. You get your results. You graduate. The ceremony approaches, and is over in a flash. You build up to it your whole uni life; in truth it lasts barely three hours, and you find yourself stood in a queue ready to return your gown and go home. Then, it’s all finished, and actually, you aren’t worried anymore. You collect yourself, you re-cooperate, and work out, quickly or slowly, what you want to do, for the next few years at least. Yes, the student life is gone, but real life isn’t too bad either.
Life doesn’t end
The eve of your graduation day you enter a horrific metamorphosis. Your carefully conserved facial hair vanishes, a starched white shirt wraps about your torso, the top button done up. Your trendy haircut gives way to a side-parting, Vans fall away into a pile of rubber and canvas, replaced by very ugly, square-toe work shoes. You’re now a working man, you are now boring, and spend the rest of your working life wishing you were still in the womb-like incubation of further education.
The reality is that you stay the same. You still socialise, though usually it’s to actually celebrate something, not because it’s Quids In and no one has anything else to do. You spend your days off totally as you wish to take them, with no essays to plan or practice exam questions. Life finds a way.
Stress becomes compartmentalised
At uni, you are stressed almost all the time. That isn’t to say you work particularly hard (I imagine you probably don’t). What I mean is that whether you’re on campus, off campus, in your flat, studying, staring blankly at your Facebook wall etc. You are stressed. The spectre of upcoming assignments, coursework, exams; in other words, deadlines, is ever-present.
When you graduate that changes. That isn’t to say your job won’t be stressful. But you leave that at work when you clock off. Though there are still things that plague your mind when you’re away from work, largely, you learn to disassociate leisure from work, to compartmentalise stress, in a way that was not possible at uni. Basically, you learn to chill out.