As I packed away my final items, I tiresomely unburdened my own weight onto the floor and took a glance around at the empty room which had been my home and solace for the last two years. The last time I had seen this empty sight, I was full of excitement, intrigue, and optimism. Now all I felt was despair; like I was just as stripped and bare as the room.
I wondered whether I would ever find this kind of happiness again.
Some people sigh with relief and spend the better half of four weeks celebrating the end of university. That wasn’t me. Leaving university was really difficult for me. It was something I had begun to dread at the end of my second year and since then it felt like a black hole of uncertainty was floating nearer and nearer to me; sucking away the life I had fallen in love with.
The ‘Big Real World’ Couldn’t Seem to Get Any Smaller to Me
We’ve all heard people drone on about the big wide world outside of university. To me, it seemed like false hope and advertising. The number of opportunities to explore new things at university was countless: dancing, sport, book clubs, game clubs, film nights, cooking classes. You could even wake up one day and decide you feel like the next Harry Potter and join the quidditch team. At home, the communal opportunities consisted of a mum’s coffee morning and an elderly social group.
The Sense of Freedom I Had Grown Accustomed to Stayed Behind at University
Taking a midnight stroll to clear your mind from the stress of assignments seemed perfectly normal at university, at home, it’s a cause for concern. Staying up late to finish tasks and then catching up on sleep the next morning was no longer a fair compromise but concerningly lazy and slouchy.
I loved making my own rules at university and having no judgments to make me reevaluate it. I knew what needed doing and when by, the rest of the structure was mine to make. Suddenly, the rigidness of normality was imposed upon me and I’m still trying to adjust to it.
I Felt Like I Was Going Backward Rather Than Forward
‘Onwards and upwards’ they say when you graduate. Sometimes it didn’t feel that way to me.
It was beneficial for me to move back home and save some money in order to be stable in my later years. I’m always really grateful that my family took me back in and made an effort to welcome me. No longer did I have to worry about whether I’d have enough money to pay all of the monthly bills, and of course that’s a big positive. I finally had money again: I could finally save!
That being said, despite the stress and constant worry I had about paying my way through life at university, there was always this satisfying thought that I was managing my own business ‘like an adult.’ I was more independent: I was working my way up the ladder.
It Was An Abyss of Constant Worry
What do people think of me?
Will I actually be able to get a job?
How do I live up to these expectations everyone has of me? You know, those expectations I’ve conjured up entirely in my head.
Everyone will think I’m a failure. People will question what the point of going to university was if I don’t immediately blow them away with my new sparkling, ambitious career.
This was probably the worst one for me. Leaving university is full of uncertainty. Some people thrive off that, but I don’t. I’m the type of person that needs to feel secure; like I have a place. But where was my place? Where do I fit in now?
University Can Be a Huge Challenge, But For Some People, Leaving is the Hardest Part
I think there needs to be more discussion on graduates post-university. Some can spiral into a pit of depression and anxiety, take The Bell Jar, for instance.
The best way I had of dealing with the transition was opening up to others. People who had been, and people who hadn’t. I found it really comforting to hear others had felt the same way as me, but it was also warming to enlighten others who hadn’t been on how difficult it can be.
Once you graduate, that’s it. You go from university being your whole life to it being merely a distant memory in the past. I feel like some graduates, such as I, would really benefit from a form of ‘after-care’ – a bit like the kind of system people are advocating for on Love Island.
Either way, I haven’t lost hope of finding my happy place again.