I finished University in April 2018, and graduated in July. What I was massively unprepared was what was to come with post-university life, and how much I’d be faced with once I’d handed in that final essay and embraced what I initially saw as gold tainted ‘freedom.’
Although you’re technically an adult, as far as age is concerned, from the age of 18, you don’t really fulfil the requirements of adulthood until you’re at least 21. That is, if you spent the 3 years in between on a University campus like I did.
Having finished University last year, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt since I started adulthood ‘officially’…
It Doesn’t All Fall into Place Straight Away
As much as you may think it’ll all fall into place once that degree certificate is in your palms, it doesn’t usually work out that way and that is okay.
When you’re young, you see adults as being able to do anything. You look at your parents and can’t begin to imagine that they get things wrong, that they don’t know what they’re doing, that they have moments of self-doubt. Because adults are supposed to have it together all the time.
But really, we’re all just humans trying to navigate this world by, usually, making it up as we go.
You might have to work in retail for 6 months after uni, just to get by. That doesn’t mean you’re stupid, or that uni was a waste of time, or that you’re a failure. I’ve been there, I thought all of those things. But it’s purely that our society is a bit messed up where the whole jobs available vs. amount of graduates dilemma is concerned. Everyone is after those jobs, employers are after experience that you just don’t have and a rejection doesn’t mean you’re not capable. It’s just not your calling yet and that is okay. Because every rejection is a step towards the perfect job.
You Don’t Know Anything About Finance
I mean, unless you studied finance, obviously. But for me, having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and spending the past so many years of academia with my head in the works of Oscar Wilde and Virgina Woolf, I didn’t know the difference between Income Tax and National Insurance. As for a Credit Score, a what? I’ve spent the past 3 years budgeting a student loan, not working out what bill is what and whether I need to get a credit card to have a good credit score when applying for a mortgage.
But, it’s all a learning curve. Because in reality, no one knows these things really. You learn with time (at least, I hope so!) and it’s more than okay to ask your parents what APR stands for more than once. Or every time.
You Can Change Your Mind (More Than Once)
It’s okay to leave university and question why you spent the past 3 years studying something you now hate. It’s okay for you to go into a career not using the degree you have, or work in a field completely different from what you ever anticipated. Have a Psychics degree and now work in graphic design? Good for you. Have an English Literature Masters degree and really enjoy working in retail? That’s absolutely fine. You need to do what you love where work is concerned; why spend the next 40 years working for something or somewhere you can’t stand?
Of course, there are external pressures which then encourage internal pressure to use the degree you have. But remember, what you chose to study at 18 may not be what you ended up being good at, or loving with a passion, or may be difficult to find work in after all! It’s all about happiness, when it comes down to it. Don’t listen to Aunt Maureen at the family party who says you wasted your potential because you have a First Class degree and now work behind a checkout. You do you.
The main thing I’ve learnt in the past year is that I don’t have my life sorted or predetermined and mapped out at the age of 22. Sure, I have a degree. But more importantly, I found myself at university in ways that my degree certificate doesn’t exhibit. I found confidence, incredible friends, passion, independence and self-acceptance. Which are all life skills that I put into practice daily. After all, life is all about practice and taking it one step at a time.
We may never have it all figured out. Maybe that’s the point.