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1 year post graduation

Let's start with the obvious and acknowledge that this post has been quite heavily "inspired" by Rhianna's post. And by inspired, I, of course, mean that I've nicked the entire concept. However, plot twist! Rhianna's story is a very interesting, engaging and reflective piece. Mine, on the other hand, is an experiment in self-indulgence only rivaled by Morrissey's masterpiece autobiography 'Morrissey'. 

Basically, don't read this seeking out any kind of wisdom or worldly insight. I have none. Zero. Nada.

It was a cold, miserable morning. It had rained throughout the night and the rooftop pool (or, dirty puddle if we're being pedantic) was dangerously overflowing. I'd awoken in Nottingham's finest central Travelodge to the sound of the city's seemingly endless building works. "I wonder what they are building now?" I passively pondered, before concluding that no new addition to the city would even matter whilst the Broadmarsh is still allowed to exist. Still, the noise was irritating, as for some inhumane reason my graduation was arranged for ten-thirty AM; a strange, volatile time that I had not seen for a very long time. Still, being the selfless and undramatic woman that I am, I overlooked my university's cruelty and concentrated on the monumental day ahead. My big day. My graduation.

We drove up to my campus (the most beautiful university campus in the UK and I'll fight anyone who disagrees) and spent a considerably lengthy amount of time being directed to our car parking space. Or, as it could also be described, a section of extremely well-weathered grass plonked by the side of the road. Boy, was I excited to walk through literal marshlands in my high heels! I did it anyway though because I am not the type of woman to complain. So after I'd waded through the trenches, I went to get my cap and gown which, as it turns out, is a more harrowing experience than the Topshop changing rooms after a Nandos. Apparently, I have a very uniquely sized head. I then went on to see my mates and got to indulge in some awkward, strained small talk between two sets of parents. It's incredibly weird to see your mates with their parents and is an extremely difficult experience emotionally. On the one hand, you stand with your parents, glowing with pride as you prepare for your life in the educated, adult world. On the other, you make eye-contact with your housemates and know that in a mere few hours will commence the sesh to end all seshs. 

Then came the actual graduation ceremony. Which, if you're yet to experience it, basically consists of sitting and watching a load of people you've never even met walk across a stage and praying you don't fall over when it's your turn. Then it is your turn and you feel like Ru Paul himself, strutting across the stage with an almost overwhelming urge to punch the vice-chancellor, take the mic and go hard on a speech about how fantastic you are. Unfortunately, before your brain even has time to process that thought, you'll be pushed off the other end of the stage and back into reality. It turns out, graduation is extremely anti-climatic.

And here's a tenuous transition link, so is life post-graduation!

It's been a year since I graduated. I have been hyper aware of that fact lately due to the inescapable season of boomeranged flying mortar boards. Naturally, my first instinct when I spot these three-second videos of joy and success is to ignore the person's achievements entirely and use them as a means by which to measure my own success because what the hell do you mean not everything is about me? Subconsciously, when I see these graduation pictures, something inside of me consumes my body with guilt and shame. A bit like when I steal my dad's last beer from the fridge but worse, because I haven't actually stopped doing that one.

I don't feel successful. I don't feel like I have progressed. This post-graduation year has, to me, felt like a regression and a stalemate. Which is basically my perfectionist brain's nightmare. This isn't the first time I've written about these feelings (I've written extensively about regression in a post on 'post grad blues' and on 'education and self-definition') and so I won't whittle on. The point of the matter is, I am one-year post graduation and I am not where I thought I would be. In fact, I'm not even anywhere near.

Here's what I wanted to have achieved this year: Get paid work experience or internship in the media. | Get a job paying at least 20k because that's the standard entry-level pay, right? (spoiler, ha, no.) | Save enough for my masters, to move out of home and to travel. | Get more paid writing gigs and less 'exposure'. | Once that's completed, get consistent freelance work. | Be living in a nice part of Manchester or London. | Have passed my driving test and bought a car (with all those savings.) | BE HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL AND NEVER, EVER SAD.

Did I achieve any of these things? Let's work through the list. No. Did you know there are jobs that people actually have that only pay £11k? cos' I do! No. No. No. No. No. And oh let's see, heh, no.

So in total, I have ticked absolutely nothing off of my to-do list. Hurray, I am a roaring failure. Except, I don't feel like that really. Yes, every now and again I'll turn into myself and spend a few hours being consumed with apathy and/or dread because hi mental health. And yeah, every now and again I'll make a flippant comment about wasting my life but that's usually just my shit excuse for humour. But honestly, if I actually sit down and think about it, none of what I've done since graduation has been pointless. It's been a necessity, an education, an eye-opener or a booze fuelled week in Spain. It isn't what I was hoping for, and I can't deny that I'm upset by the lack of the obvious 'progress', but it's a considerable bit more than I give myself credit for. The fact of the matter is that I had a lot of goals that weren't attainable, not in the time-frame I had given them anyway.

Here's what I actually have done in the year since graduation. I went to Glastonbury and rediscovered my desire to work in the music industry (something which I'd lost during university.) This led me to seek out a music journalism role at Noizee. I got a job in admin and realized I absolutely despise administrative roles but do like flexible hours, open plan offices and creative environments. This job also reminded me that I need to have a job that is varied and challenging or else I will go insane.

I became a Young Reporter for Theatre Cloud and discovered that I can create a story on basically zero information, that I am a top interviewer and also, that background researching is something I am ah-mazing at. (Seriously, I love doing research and I am so good at research and everyone should be hiring me for research.) I had enough money to get some counseling which apparently I shouldn't broadcast on the internet but I say, fuuuuck that, I've got the mind of a Jedi and I intend to brag. I am so self-aware and reflective now, and the strongest mentally I have been for years. I couldn't have got to that stage without the money from the terrible admin job. Likewise, I had enough money to start learning to drive and was startled to learn that it's not actually as easy as I'd thought it was. Yet after a rocky start, I am getting there and though I may not have reached my target date of September I'm pretty sure I'll have got there by... next September... maybe. I got a new job with the civil service which paid me less but I enjoyed more. I found that I'm not motivated by money, but I do expect guidance and progression. I realized I enjoy roles where I can talk to different people from a range of different backgrounds. I realized that I need a role where I am continually learning and growing. I went to Liverpool. I went to Paris. I went to London. I went to Spain.

As I move into my second-year post graduation, I'm going to Italy. To Naples, to Rome, to Florence, to Venice. To see family I haven't seen in years and see the sights I could only imagine during my degree. I'm going on the Italy trip I have been dreaming about for years and I'm doing it because of those jobs. I'm doing it because I haven't found my dream career. I'm doing it because it's okay for me to drift aimlessly for a month because I don't have to pay that rent or buy that car. This lack of 'progression' that I found so shameful, is enabling me to go out and live one of my dreams.

So I don't have my own flat. I haven't got a well-paid job. I haven't made it down to London. Driving is harder than expected. As is establishing yourself a freelance journalist worthy of payment, apparently. I've saved a bit for travel, but not for my masters. I've had zero successful internship offers.

One year on from graduation, I haven't achieved anything I wanted to. But my greatest achievement is the realization that I will achieve everything I want to in time and there's nothing shameful about that.

1 comment

  1. I absolutely loved this. 2 years on from graduation I'm not at the place I dreamed of being but I'm starting to learn that it's okay because the job I'm in now lets me do everything that I want to do; like go travelling to Thailand at Christmas. It's so easy to look at the failures/negatives in life with all the pressure we get so it's so lovely to read posts like this to remember we're all not alone!! So thanks!
    Katie x