Life after university

I’m only in second year, and I didn’t think it was necessary to start thinking about the ‘afterlife’ of university just yet. I’m only half way through my degree. Why would I want to start thinking about something so stressful just yet? I had plenty of time, I thought, graduation wasn’t going to be creeping up on me anytime soon. But it would seem that I was wrong. In fact, whilst I was feeling all carefree and blissful, most of my friends were already beginning to decide on their future plans for life after university – what some may call, the ‘real world’.

I wondered how I had managed to successfully ignore these thoughts for so long. After all, this is why I attended university in the first place, right? So that there was a greater chance of being ever so slightly employable, so that I could have just a sliver of hope for some decent prospects in later life.

Or maybe I just went to university because I didn’t know what else to do, and thought that I’d delay adulthood for a little longer – at eighteen, I certainly didn’t feel like I was in any position to be classed as a ‘responsible, mature adult’. Perhaps University was just a valid excuse for me to just delay that part of my life. Either options are plausible really, and my reasons for applying to university are all a bit of a blur now. All I know is that in a year and a half, I will be graduating.

Graduation. A loaded word, some may say. When I went home at Christmas, I finally decided to stop ignoring the impending situation that would soon be upon me, and began to face the facts. After some hefty thinking, I was hoping for an ‘answer’ to miraculously emerge. That didn’t happen. I resorted to such desperate measures, that I even took a personality quiz, hoping that my ‘calling’ in life would be revealed to me there.  Thinking about post-uni life began to feel like staring into a deep, dark abyss, with no way of comprehending how to actually get out of it.

We’ve probably all been through a fairly similar thought process. You wonder what it is you would actually like to do with your life. You want to have a job you actually like, after all. But as gradation looms, and the prospect of having zero plans becomes increasingly likely, if you’re like me, you may find yourself in the same predicament – you have no idea about the future. And god forbid your family know that, you don’t want to appear like you’re a useless, lazy human who is just going to be aimlessly wandering around the earth for years on end.

Although having concrete plans after University might be the most obviously appealing option, there are ways to overcome the anxiety and fears of being unsure, and actually begin to embrace the positive qualities that come with being ‘clueless’.

We are constantly being told that in order to lead a fulfilling life, that we need to be successful. And in order to be successful, we need to have a firm grip on our futures, we need to have a precise game plan. When we’re told to think like this, it’s inevitable that we feel immensely pressured to be in ‘control’, that we need to have our lives ‘figured out’ from the word go. But the more you constantly think about what the ‘next step is’, the more you find yourself stuck in your thoughts, not fully able to enjoy the present moment.

Life is often unknown and scary. But, if you embrace life, with all its weirdness, and are willing to be open to things that come your way, then being unsure about the future stops being so daunting, and actually becomes tremendously exciting. So embrace the happy-go-lucky Hippie within you, and just ‘Go with the flow’.


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August 2021
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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