It’s official. My degree, written on parchment paper, has come through the door and I am officially a graduate. I should be excited for all the next adventures waiting… But, why do I feel like my university is dumping me? It’s like they’ve sent my things in the post with a passive aggressive congratulations and be on your way. I know it would always come to an end and on some late night study sessions I wished it had come sooner. I had the most amazing four years at university, even with a few bumps along the way…. strike action and winter storm bumps and a global pandemic kind of bump. It’s fair to say, it wasn’t easy. But it was still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Graduating in absentia is lonely, however. It’s a click of button to end your final seminar and another click to submit your final piece of work. Then it’s all come to the end. No hat, no cloak. Just like that! Conversations start changing from assignment chitter, to where’s your life going chatter. This shit is scary. Nobody really prepares you for this stage of life. Whether you have studied or not, everyone goes through it. Change starts to appear in all areas of life. Some of the things I’ve noticed over the past year would be: increasing activity on Right Move, the desire to watch children’s films, heavier anxiety about finance and stability, and even physical changes in my body. I have heard of the ‘Second Puberty‘; I mean what kind of fresh hell is that? My spotty and over-emotional teenage years were over… I thought so anyway. But no, your body and hormones all change again in your 20s. Your physical capabilities change too, not to mention after a pandemic. Stairs tire me now, I look for comfort in my shoes and underwear. Is this just me? Am I entirely boring now? I haven’t even mentioned the mood swings: from enraged postoffice experiences, to sobbing over infestations of fruit flies. The pressure is all consuming.
I’m not sure what the common thought is after graduating. Maybe there isn’t one. I’ve seen some people fall into their industry job, others taking on apprenticeships or training positions. I’ve seen some go back to studying, gathering even more knowledge. And some have moved away, grabbing their things and finding somewhere abroad to start their next chapter. These thoughts and next steps have crossed my mind, sometimes sitting long enough for me to investigate and even submit applications. I applied for a masters, got offered a scholarship and right up until a month beforehand, I pulled out! I felt I was applying from a place of fear rather than a place of genuine passion. Maybe even applying for the university year I felt I had missed out on due to the pandemic. I just want the gown!
To be completely honest, my mind rested on one thing: money. I promise not in a material gain way, although it is nice to earn more! Instead, it is more due to university being very expensive and if I wanted to take future risks with my jobs and the creative industry, I need security first. It’s pretty boring and not very glam. It’s not exactly what I had pictured after graduating. Finding a job right now has its own challenges. Back in May this year, it had been reported by the BBC that “about 1 in 20 people want a job but cannot find one.” I managed to find a job relatively quickly back in April, however it was certainly not successful. I felt well prepared in getting a job, but did not have the slightest clue on what to do if it didn’t work out. That’s a hurdle I feel everyone will need to jump at some point. I stumbled across mine, learning that I wanted a job with a very small commute and one that made me feel comfortable to be who I am. After a lot of job applications and some very long weeks of guilt, I finally found a job I am happy in. It gives me everything I need right now and that’s all that’s important. Plus the commute is from my bed to my at home office, about 15 steps if you’re counting! If you’re searching for a job just now or if you’re unhappy in the one you’re in, I am really sorry as I know just how stressful this is. I know a lot of it is without our control so my advice is limited, but I would suggest keeping a job hunting logbook or spreadsheet! I’d also suggest sharing your struggles with friends and family, this can certainly help with the isolated feeling that comes with finding, or being without, a job.
While working full-time, I have since discovered different pathways and passions I thought had taken a back-seat or some that I never thought would come to me in the first place. I have discovered that I really enjoy helping people, especially giving advice or listening to puzzled brains. I am especially passionate about the health and wellbeing of women, particularly survivors of abuse. This prompted me to take on a counselling course in my spare time (when I have some!) So my studying hasn’t completely disappeared, which I like. It feels familiar to me and I think I’ll always want to learn.
Growing up is tough. Growing pains are not just physical but I believe you can experience them emotionally too. It takes a lot of effort to imagine all the routes and pathways you want to do and then try to pick one. I think for some it is clear as day and their pathway has plenty of signs for direction. Others, maybe like me, have several that all look pretty good but maybe with some wacky signs instead. I think this was the problem. I feel like I have to pick one, when in reality, I want a bit of everything. I want to be creative within the film industry, I want to buy a lovely house and become a mother, I want to help people and make a difference and I want to run my own business. Despite the growing pains, I’m a little taller now to know that these paths probably all lead to the same place. I can peer among the trees to know this.
So maybe it’s time we create our own paths. With our own signposts. We’ll get there in the end. Eventually.
I’m back and ready to write again, I hope this post explains a little where my head has been. I’m curious to know, when did you experience emotional growing pains? When did you start feeling like a ‘true adult’?
Looking forward to our next chat,
6 thoughts on “Growing Pains: Where have I been?”
Still going through them Hattie. Another great read. X
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Thanks for sharing. I related a lot to this piece, especially, the question of finding a career or livelihood path in life. It’s helpful to be reminded that it’s not always easy but a way might be out there. I’m glad you have ideas for what you want because that must really help to navigate things.
I wondered if it’s ok to share this piece on my blog, with a link and credit to you? I write and share stories about anxiety and sensitivity.
Of course! Thank you so much for reaching out and wanting to share. I’m sorry for the late response! I’m glad this piece spoke to you! H
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I think a career and job spreadsheet/logbook sounds useful. In my experience, thoughts get forgotten, tangled and misremembered, making progress that much harder to work out the future.
Nevertheless, a congratulatory message is still warranted. Kudos to you for your hard work getting that diploma! 😀
Well, to answer the question you posted – it didn’t come until I was 23. It came to the point that I had to choose: Stay with childhood hobbies or move to a different endeavor. I chose the latter seven years ago – and I’ve been blogging ever since.
This line from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata comes to mind: “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.”
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Great read as ever Hattie – I graduated with a mediocre degree, no money, no family home to return to and in a relationship that was in it’s final days – I applied to do nursing (NOT a graduate career in 1981!) and just thought I’d see if it worked out and 40 years later, I guess it did. You never stop growing! Xx
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