five things i've learned since graduating

11 Aug 2021

I graduated a year ago, well I finished my degree and recieved a classification a year ago, I am still yet to have a graduation. However, that means that I've now had a whole year out of university and student life and am actually now supposed to be a fully functioning adult with a job and real responsibilities. My university finally arranged for us to get graduation photos last week and so naturally it got me thinking about what this first year out of university has taught me. Also how cute are my graduation photos! I knew I didn't want traditional shots so we roped my sister's boyfriend in to take some fun cottagecore ones for us and I love how they turned out!
It's obviously been a bit of a funny year, I turned twenty-two just before the pandemic hit and I’m now going to be twenty-four in six months which is pretty damn scary. I still remember starting university so vividly back in 2016. I remember turning up to my flat excited to discover just who I was going to be and five years later I guess I’m still discovering that. I wrote a post last year all about what I learned while I was at uni so I guess this one will pick up where that one left off.

1) Your degree does not define you

I currently work in social media management and general online content along with some admin for two different organisations so it may come as a shock that my degree is actually in biomedical science. I think the most important thing about life after university is that you’re doing something that you enjoy. When I was eighteen and applying for uni I loved science, but I also had a passion for social media. I opted to study biomed because I enjoyed it, I loved learning new things about how the body works (you could definitely say that it set me up well for this past year anyway) and to stay away studying anything creative as I felt studying it would take the joy away from it for me. Now that I’m out of education and actually working in the social media field I can very much say that it does take the joy out of it a little bit, but it’s definitely also helped me find new interests because previously I would always have called Instagram a hobby but when it’s also your job it’s not really a hobby anymore. Having a job that I enjoy enough to also do in my free time (since I also create content for myself and brands on Instagram) is such a privilege and I’m so lucky that I landed in full time permanent employment straight out of school in my field of choice because I know how rare that can be.

2) I’m much more confident in myself

Prior to my current job I’d never once had a successful job interview. I literally got scouted for a position at a pharmaceutical company for my placement year and still somehow managed to bomb the interview. I’m very much not the person to come to for employment advice, I’m just incredible lucky that everything fell into place for me. I’ve always hated the whole interview process so I think being able to have an interview on Zoom was actually beneficial because I wasn’t quite as nervous as I would be in real life and was able to actually talk about how I would be good at the job – The interview lasted for an hour and I was offered the job later the same day so clearly I was able to impress, which is something that I’ve never been good at before. I’ve also noticed in general that since university my confidence in general has improved and I’ve become much less nervous about things. I’m still an enneagram nine and I still get anxiety about talking on the phone and turning up to people’s houses early but on the whole, I think I’m a lot more confident I think I can thank my uni experience for that.

3) Friendships fade and that’s okay

I still see some of my university friends but a majority of them I only see on social media and that’s okay, especially with how this year has been it’s been harder than ever to keep in touch. When you’re not seeing each other at class every day and you’re all working it’s much harder to schedule coffee dates and catch-ups. All my uni friends are still my friends though and if I bumped into them while out, I could definitely have a great conversation with them, but I just don’t find myself with the same desire to be in group chats and catch up all the time, but I guess that’s growing older and growing apart. The friendships that you built that were meant to last will and others will just have been there for a specific moment in your life. I don’t even talk to my best friend all the time but whenever we’re together it’s like we’ve never been apart, and some friendships are just like that. Every friendship is different, and everyone’s friend group is different so try to stay away from comparing your university friend experience to other people’s.

4) It’s okay to still not have it figured out

I’m literally only one year out of education. I’m only twenty-three years old. It’s still okay for me not to know what I want to do with my life. The average person will have six jobs in their lifetime. That gives me plenty of time to figure out if this is really what I want to do. I read Garden City by John Mark Comer earlier this year which is a book all about work and rest and is supposed to get twenty and thirty somethings excited about work, which it did, but it also talks about how sometimes you won’t know what the right job for you is until you do it or until you leave the one that you thought it was. Right now though, as a twenty-three year old graduate, I’m very happy where I am and I’m not stressing too much about my future because there’s still plenty of time for that further down the line and right now, although I’m not a student anymore, I can still enjoy my youth and the freedoms that come with it.

5) Don’t lose your youth

I think there’s such a misconception that once you’re a graduate that it’s time to grow up. And yes, you’re becoming financially independent, working with professionals, and are officially out of education but at the end of the day, you’re still only in your early twenties. I’m the youngest person employed in my work by about 30 years, and it can be hard not to compare yourself to your older colleagues and where they’re at in life but they were also your age too at one point. A lot of my friends aren’t even twenty yet and while we’re technically at different stages of life I still find that I relate a lot to them, and I don’t shy away from that just because they’re younger than me. Obviously, it’s good to be mature but if your favourite song comes on it is okay to yell the lyrics and dance about in public, you’re allowed to still get obsessed with shows and celebrities, that’s not something that dies with your teenage years. Embrace that. There’s still time to become a stuffy business type but just don’t rush into it.
So those are just a few things that I’ve learned this past year and a bit. It still seems a little weird that I’m not a student anymore, Waterstones have just expended my student plus membership so I guess I can keep the guise up a little while longer but I’m also excited for what the rest of my post-grad life looks like and I can’t wait for the journey.

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