I recently celebrated one year of employment at my current job and though it seems like an overreaction – there was a time when I didn’t think it was possible for me to graduate.
The road paved to graduation was filled with loss, pain and general feeling of hopelessness (as any student will gladly explain to you – the road to passing is oft a long one)
I had often cried myself to sleep in exam time as I was working during my final year exams because if I didn’t – I would be broke. Celebrating getting that parchment was a blur, I chose not to attend my graduation but instead plan a week-long party slash binge in my student town.
But the problem is that they never tell you what happens after that last exam or when the graduation gown comes off, and you finally move back home. If you’ve been studying away from your city, coming back to the stark reality of what you left behind can be jarring to your senses. You’re not used to having parents telling what to do or figuring out how to navigate the real world can be exhausting. I was living in my hometown and felt utterly lost – I had plans to move to Cape Town but those were on the backburner until I could drag myself out of bed and find a job. I took a six month break – more or less – and it felt like my soul was being slowly destroyed bit by unemployed bit.
The support you need is combined with the pressure to find a job or find yourself or travel or teach and in the end you don’t want to adult at all. Your parents or guardians have put all this faith in you that this pricey education will further your life.
No pressure, man. Chilled vibes. What a jol.
The early twenties are filled with options, but then each one of them have a consequence and you’re (sometimes) old enough to understand them. And most people will tell you not to fret, but how is that possible when every single thing requires some sort of choice or plan or godforsaken path you need to take. It sounds all well and bloody dandy to tell someone who has no compass to guide them to say “It all doesn’t matter you know, it’ll be fine. You have so much time.”
Until you don’t.
I finally moved up to Cape Town though after getting my shit into gear. Although I didn’t struggle finding an internship and then a job, but it was only because I had been working since a teen and had some sort of experience to show for it. I also had no choice. What was I going back home to if I couldn’t support myself?
So after my work-a-versary, I was infinitely proud of being able to say that I had made it, kinda.
A year doesn’t seem like forever but it sure is a lot to deal with, when you’re embarking on your career for the first time.
While I still don’t ~really~ know wtf is going on sometimes, but the options I have feel like adventures more than nooses. The things I want to explore seem doable, not entirely anxiety-filled and doomed for failure.
I don’t often pat my damn self on the back (and I often cheer for other people louder than myself) but I realised I’m doing fine. And that made most of the difference.
It’s really okay to feel like you don’t know what’s going on and that some things don’t have a plan. It will be overwhelming but also sometimes leave you numb and you might not even want to care anymore.
But eventually the cool shit will happen.
I wish someone had told me this.
So I’m telling you.
2 thoughts on “Post-graduation blues”
You have no idea how refreshing and, if I’m honest, comforting it was to read your article. I am currently in that post grad funk and it is such a load off the old noodle to see that others feel, or have felt, the way us still on that grind do. Kudos to you for shining light on that most sly parental suppressure(Support + Pressure). It’s jolly nice to have our story told by one of us and not some patronizing old guy speaking to us with their best “you can do it champ” voice. I shall keep a lookout for more of your work.
P.S. I like the way your name is spelled, who still uses E’s when spelling names anyway
Thank you! I just thought I’d address something I experienced for my damn self. x