This is it! You have (somewhat) successfully navigated your way through approximately 16 years of formal education and can finally see what a summer without exams looks like. Ahh, bliss… the endless hours of revision, essay writing and constant stress about things you should be doing is over. You’ve got a summer of end-of-an-era nostalgia, graduation celebrations and fun to look forward to before you begin life in the “real” world.
As your last exam finishes and you relish the lie-ins for a few days, spending time surrounded by friends and basking in the long summer evenings, it’s hard to imagine ever returning to a life of 9am starts.
If you’ve planned ahead or (like me) hit rock bottom during the last stretch of your degree, chances are you’ll have a holiday or something similar lined up. This was an amazing idea and I’d definitely recommend it as a wind down after all the pent up stress you’ve been harbouring for the last few months. Personally, I don’t think my week away was long enough to truly relax, so if you have the chance to escape for a little longer, or you’re the Camp America type, grab the opportunity by the horns and make the most of the time off.
By this point, some people you studied with will be starting their first job as a graduate, and others still won’t have a clue what they are supposed to be doing or how they are going to support themselves. Either way, it’s totally fine! I had my path all laid out for myself before I graduated, and six weeks down the line, packed it in to relocate. Sometimes we make ridiculous decisions under extreme stress, and that’s OK. It’s more important to be able to admit to yourself that you made a mistake and you’re not happy. So many older adults talk about how they have spent their lives doing jobs they don’t enjoy. As the educated future of the world, we owe it to ourselves and our employers to choose a job we’ll enjoy, or we’ll never fulfil our potential.
However, when we move on and begin new chapters of our lives, it’s no surprise that we have to say a few goodbyes. Goodbye to your old Wednesday night haunt, your first year halls of residence, and even your “favourite” lecture theatre (probably the air conditioned one). Not only that, but now is the time you start saying goodbye to the friends you made along the way. Of course, you’ll have the ones that will remain your friends forever. Maybe you lived together or were members of the same society, but the good news is that the bonds you’ve built over the last three years were built under stress, and much like a diamond those friendships were made to last. As for everyone else, you’ll probably stay Facebook friends, maybe add them on LinkedIn, and see what they are up to from time to time, envying their holiday photos and feeling like you’re doing something wrong because their lives look more glamorous than yours. You might even begin to forget why you’ve got a bunch of graduation photos with them looking like you were total besties and wonder whether you ever met up with them outside of lectures.
If you do begin to feel any resentment, do yourself a favour and unless you’ve had a meaningful conversation with them in the last 3 months, delete these people from your social media. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! Remind yourself that Instagram only shows a highlight reel. Every person you came into contact with at uni is facing his or her own challenges post-graduation. Not many of them will post about their time spent bored at work. Someone will try to organise a reunion that may or may not actually happen, and maybe you’ll bump into the “sort of friends” at a wedding or party a few years down the line, but don’t let it impact your life that you’re not as close as you were on THAT night out in second year- you’ve got so many more friends to make in the future.
Make the most of this time. Revel in your lack of responsibility and take your time to make the decisions that will affect the next few years of your life. Say the goodbyes you must, and use the amazing technology we have today to keep in touch. Look back on the last three years with gladness. Please, realise how lucky you are to have had incredible experiences and use what you’ve learned to begin the biggest journey of your life.