The time has come. Soon you will be adorning your robes and posing awkwardly with a piece of paper you’ve flogged your guts out for 3 years or more to achieve… I am the only one who is terrified by the prospect of leaving education and joining the “real world”? Worse still, am I the only one who finds the prospect of remaining in education more daunting than leaving it?
- ‘So, are you on a Grad Scheme?’
No. No I’m not. Yet it seems like all my peers are, or at least attempting to get onto one. For me, diving into a scheme in a blind panic that I’ll be left well-educated but penniless and intellectually wasted seems wrong. I need to dip my toes into the world of work and discover what will inspire to get up in the mornings. Chasing a Grad Scheme seems a viable option to find that out for many people, but for me, somehow it feels too linear: you’ll do this, then this, then this, and within two years you’ll be on a £28,000 salary as a manager of this suburban store.
- ‘So, you’ve actually no idea what you want to be?’
No I don’t. And at 21, I find that no bad thing. We live in a society where it is a cultural norm to ask children from such young tender ages what they wish to be when they grow up. Why can’t we just accept them, as children? Why are we so fixated on ideal conceptions of our future selves? I wish to know how the interests in the career ambitions of five-year-old children are in any way constructive. Have we been tricked into a view of life where the desire for happiness – in the most part – economic security, guides us to live for the future and not the present. Do not mistake me, I am not the sort to write ‘Carpe Diem’ in my twitter bio; yet I see no real reason why present happiness must be subordinated for future conceptions.
- ‘You can’t just amble though life, and fall into something, you know.’
This is something I would have likely said before graduation became impending. But the more I think about how I’m going to address this next chapter of my life the more I realise that planning doesn’t really work anyway. When was the last time life didn’t get in the way of a ‘To Do List’ you made? I feel the best way to approach graduate life is to dip your toes into the icy cold waters of potential opportunities – those that scare you but excite you – until you feel brave enough to jump, wholeheartedly, into one of them. Like you would a freezing cold lido in the British summertime.
- ‘Oh, you’re considering a gap yah?’
A lot of us do, and at the end of it the majority of people say it was the best thing they did. I, like many of you I’m sure, feel as though I don’t really know who I am yet. To paraphrase Sylvia Plath, I know pretty much what I like and dislike, but I couldn’t tell you who I am. Perhaps I should stop trying to decipher it, and instead, lose myself in culture, language, food, fauna and landscape. I want to feel immersed by lifestyles unknown, and forget that not three months previously I was sat at a library desk with a packet of Hobnobs staring at the word count of my assignment. But please, let us not do the generic finding-oneself-in-Thailand-laying-across-a-chained-tiger-thing. Instead, pick somewhere different; don’t pick anywhere for its beaches, or its price on Skyscanner. This is the time when we’re most able to travel the world properly – so grab Lonely Planet’s ‘The Best Place to Be Today’ – read it, and realise. There may be a smattering of financial idealism within this sentiment, but there are always ways around it. Work as you travel, or work in Starbucks misspelling people’s names for 6 months to earn your journey.
- ‘Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the time is running out!’
Don’t listen to people who try and tell you to stop dithering and make real life choices. I’m not condoning a life of festering under your duvet binge watching Netflix, but I do mean to say that it is OK to take life at your own pace. We’re allowed days of indecision, and equally, we should embrace the days where we find happiness and excitement. Follow them, but let no one rush you into them.
If you enjoyed this, and would like to listen to someone perhaps more eloquent and funnier than I have been here, I urge to watch Tim Minchin’s Graduate Speech at the University of Western Australia, if you’ve not watched it already. I found this after I wrote the article, but found it most pertinent to the points made here.
By Beth Kirby
[Image Credit: bensonk42]