Here’s What No One Tells You About Finishing University

The time has finally come: I have finished my three year degree. I am no longer a student; I will no longer be attending university.

Life has been pretty crazy for the past few months (read: past year) and I always imagined that as soon as university was over, my life would get back on track and everything would be exactly how I wanted it. Oh bless past, naive me!

Don’t get me wrong, I am constantly flooded with relief now that everything is finished and handed in, but I didn’t account for the continuing stress, worry and general sense of unsure that’s still there. And that’s the thing- no one seems to tell you what it’s like finishing university. Sure, we’ve all heard the success stories and probably witnessed the glorious pride that third year students have when they’ve finished, but there’s loads of other things that I’m experiencing right now that I did not expect.

So allow me today to be the person to heed a word of warning. Finishing university is an amazing achievement and this is a time of totally celebration and relaxation, but there’s also a lot of weird stuff that goes on too.

THE MOURNING PERIOD

The past three years have passed by in what feels like a blur. Everything has been going at like a hundred miles an hour since I clicked that ‘accept offer’ button on UCAS three years ago. I actually can’t believe that I have finished my degree and will (hopefully!) be graduating next month! All of those years of hard work, stress and tears have come to a close and will hopefully all be worth it in the end.

As everything has just flown by, I can’t seem to reflect properly on my experience over these past three years and that’s making it hard for me to accept that it’s over. One minute I was working my arse off and living on my own and now I’m back in my family home with literally nothing to do. It’s a very strange situation and I know I should be taking full advantage of this chill time, but I can’t help but feel a little unsettled.

All of the routines I created for myself through my life at university have suddenly dissolved and no longer exist; I am trying to settle into living at home with my parents, after having my own freedom and independence for so long and although I know I have nothing to do, I can’t shake the feeling that I should be doing something productive instead of binging on daytime TV.

It’s taken me a long time to realise that I actually need a little time to kind of mourn the fact that I am no longer a student; that this part of my life, that has been such a major part of it for so long, is no longer there. I will no longer have that kind of lifestyle that you grow so used to over the course of your degree and that is a hard thing to accept and then try to change.

BURSTING THE BUBBLE

One major thing I have realised since moving home and being surrounded by people who actually have normal lives (read: have jobs/careers/families to care for, etc) is that university is such a bubble. The life you live when you’re at university is so far away from what ‘real life’ actually is.

Of course, moving out and living on your own can teach you some important lessons that will be valuable when you enter ‘real life’, but at university you’re surrounded by people of a similar age and everyone is in the same boat. When everyone behaves and acts the same, or in a very similar manner, it is very hard to see that this isn’t actually the norm. That’s what university is. It’s a total bubble and I for one got so caught up in it for three years that I almost couldn’t imagine life outside of it.

So when I left, the bubble burst pretty hard and it’s hit me that the life I’ve made for myself over the course of my degree isn’t really fit for purpose, or something I can continue now I’m no longer in that space.

I now need to build new routines and new attitudes and basically have to construct the structure of my life once again, from scratch. I’m finding this pretty difficult at the moment, if I’m being totally honest, as I get very rooted in my routines and find them very hard to break. But I’m hoping that now I’ve addressed the issue (mourning my past life as a student and learning that what I experienced in this time wasn’t ‘real life’) I can start to move forward and get back on track.

IT CONTINUES

Even though I no longer have any deadlines or commitments, I can’t seem to shake the horrible feeling that I have something to do that’s constantly hanging over my head. Of course I have hobbies and little projects (like this blog!) that I want to get on with, but those are things I want to do for fun for now and have no real deadline or consequence.

The feeling of having something to do is something that all students will recognise and is something that we’ve had over us for years and years. No wonder I’m having a difficult time adjusting to the fact I literally have nothing to do anymore! But I just wish that it wasn’t getting in the way of things right now.

It seems that all of the stress, anxiety and just general worry that I’ve gotten so used to experiencing is still present, even though my lifestyle has totally changed! It’s kind of annoying, more than anything, as now is is the first time in what feels like forever that I can actually just chill out and take some time for myself, but I still feel guilty for doing so.

I know that, as with everything, it’s an adjustment period and things won’t always be like this. I just need to be patient and allow myself some time to get through it. I feel bad for being so unproductive, but I need to stop being so hard on myself. Major changes take time to adjust to and so I need to allow myself some time to do just that.

Nelson Mandela


So this was kind of a little update on where I’m at right now. Hopefully it may help some of you who are also in the same boat, or maybe it’ll allow you to prepare yourself for when the time comes for you. I am hoping to take some more time for blogging now that I’m free, but as always bare with me a little bit.

If you have any experience with finishing university (or any kind of education) and have some tips for me, please let me know! I’d love to hear your input. If you’re currently still studying, I wish you all luck with everything!

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials: (Relevant/University Posts)

Who Do You Want To Be?

For some reason recently I’ve been all about self-reflection and just reflecting in general.

Maybe it’s because spring is coming, and that’s all about fresh starts and new beginnings, or maybe it’s because I’m getting (scarily) near the end of my university degree so things are changing so fast for me and I have a lot of things to consider. Either way I think it’s a good thing. I’m thinking a lot about the person I’m becoming and the lessons it took to get me here.

I used to believe that you had to ‘find yourself’. That in order to discover who you really are you needed to go on some sort of quest to find the true being inside of you. Now I know that it’s more of a question of ‘creating’ yourself. Sure there are elements of your personality that are inherently you and that you may not be able to change. But overall, you get to decide who you want to be.

This can be a hard thing to understand at first as many of us are not in the position to just suddenly become this amazing person we all want to be. Some of us may not even believe that we have the capabilities to do such a giant task in the first place.

Annoyingly, learning things about yourself is something that takes time and gets easier as you grow. It’s through every experience, every mistake and every choice you make that things begin to shift in the person you are and, understandably, these things take time.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t start making a difference now, wherever you are. Every day the decisions you make, the way you interact with others and the people you have around you help shape the person you are.

‘Creating’ yourself seems like such a big task on the surface, but really it’s these little things we do every day that contribute to it.

INSPIRATION OR COMPARISON? 

It’s really easy to get caught up in other people and think “why can’t I be like that?” But here’s the thing- you can be like that. You can get inspired and work on those features that you admire so much. If you want to be more productive, then work on it. If you want to be kind, then work on it.

The key is to not get so focused on other people so that you forget about yourself. You should always be your number one. It sounds selfish and like something we’ve been told to never do, but it’s so important that you shift that focus onto yourself. Especially if you’re trying to work on who you are in the first place.

I personally want to become more positive. For most of my life I have been a ‘glass half empty’ kind of girl- which, for the record, is totally okay- but after a while it started to weigh down on me. I found that as I got older, being bored and unsatisfied with everything just wasn’t the done thing anymore despite how trendy it was at school. I found myself feeling down and unable to pick myself back up again because of how negative every reaction I had was.

Being positive is something I am still striving for now but I can say that it’s gotten easier. The hardest part is realising the problems you have inside you and recognising that you need to change. That being said, starting the change is pretty difficult too! It takes a lot of patience (something I often lack) and self-reflection. You need to take time out to focus on the way you react to things, to the way you behave and call yourself out whenever you catch yourself doing it in a negative way.

You need to make a commitment to yourself that you’ll take this time to constantly work on building your character. This isn’t a one-time deal that’ll be over with soon. It’s something we need to work on persistently and something that will continue as long as we live.

Because who we are is built on the things we do, expect for change to happen within yourself. You were never meant to be just one thing; a being that can be pigeon-holed easily. We are complicated yet wonderful people who, once we are open to the idea of change and working hard, can only get better as time goes on.

My journey towards being a more positive person is still going strong. I struggle sometimes, as we all do, but the fact that I am trying is enough. I want to be someone who is kind and approachable. Basically I want to be the kind of person I’d be friends with.

I have accepted who I was and who I am now and I’m looking forward to all the changes, all the growth and all the learning that is coming my way.

Ask yourself, what do you want to be known for? What kind of person will you be? And just how hard are you going to work to get there?


Materials (Learning From Other People):


 

*affiliate links used

Speak soon,

Rachael.