After making it through to the end of your degree everyone just assumes you’ve got it all figured it out.
You’ve decided what you wanted to study, powered through all the readings, maybe done a few internships too.
The assumption is that you’re settled in your choices and you’ve shaken off all your aspirations to spend your days travelling or to become a cashed-up Instagram model. Too often this is just not the case.
For a lot of us, the confusion only really starts after graduating. While we’re at uni we’re in a bit of a bubble and all we have to do is perform under the parameters set for us.
Once the bubble bursts, we’re overloaded with options. The path forward becomes a little less obvious and it’s harder to tell if we’re making the right choices. Or we know what the right choice technically is, but we just don’t want to make them.
Some of your friends would’ve gotten swept away in a full-time job right away. Sometimes that sounds appealing, especially when you notice their tastes getting more expensive by the week. But the indecision doesn’t stop when you land yourself a job and sooner or late your friends start to show signs of discomfort.
Maybe they’re thinking that they’re missing out on something by going from one bubble to the next. Maybe they rushed into a job like high school students rush into a degree.
Another option is to go straight back to school and keep studying, whether it’s for postgrad or a completely different course. The student life can be pretty comfortable and it’s a good way of keeping everyone else’s expectations at bay.
You’re doing what you’re used to doing, it satisfies everyone’s questions of what you’re doing with your life, and you can trick yourself into thinking it’s so you’re qualified for a job later on.
Of course, it’s only delaying the inevitable, and it’s not always the best thing to give yourself more debt just because you didn’t know what you could do otherwise.
Maybe you just want to take some time off from it all or even travel a bit. It makes sense; getting a degree is draining and rushing into a job you might not like would be equally draining. You want to take this time for yourself because you’ve not really had the chance to before, but this choice is probably the hardest one to make.
You were told that gap years are for 18-year-olds and if you take time off now you’ll be left behind as all your friends blossom into fully-fledged adult humans.
We talk a lot about how chasing marks negatively impacts our mental health, but it’s the same for other markers of success. If we’re feeling unhappy or unsure about our choices, we need to listen to that. We know that gap years are god’s gifts to students, so they shouldn’t just be limited to high school leavers.
Maybe all you want to do is keep working the same part-time job you had throughout uni while you wait for the right opportunity.
Maybe you want to move out of home for the first time, or move to a new country, just to see if you could make it work.
Maybe you want to spend time exploring your hobbies and fostering a passion, whether it’s through volunteering or creative endeavours.
Or maybe you just want to go on that boozy Europtrip everyone else got to go on when they were younger.
Whenever you do decide to start that so-called next chapter in your life, it won’t matter that you’re a year older than everyone else; you’ll still be a person with a degree competing with a cohort of other students with degrees.
Doing something for yourself for once, and finding happiness in that? That will matter.