Over the last week I’ve had several conversations with people about post-university life. It seems to me that the camp is divided. There is the ‘I have a graduate job’ group (which will rapidly become the ‘Oh God, so this is a 9 to 5′ group) and the ‘Post-University Slump’. Post-graduate degrees don’t count because they just postpone real life. Everyone knows that.
So how do we get over the Post-University Slump? I know that I’m very lucky. I know what I want to do with my life and I have successfully found a master’s program that lets me put off real life in favour of writing poems and blog posts. But I am very aware that if I had not been accepted to a program first time round that I would be in a desperately miserable post-University slump right now. Talking to other people about The Slump, and trying to help them through it, I found myself repeating the following things over and over:
Mantra number 1 – You do you
Don’t do something just because you feel like you’re expected to. Don’t go to law school because that’s what everyone in your family does. Don’t move to Australia because all of the cool kids are doing it. Do what you want. And if you don’t know what you want right now then move straight on to mantra number 2.
Mantra number 2 – Sometimes you need change in order to see what you really want
It’s easy to live your life in a comfort zone but by doing this you don’t see all of the options that are out there for you. Maybe you were supposed to be a world champion free diver, but if you never go diving you’ll never find out. Maybe your soulmate is halfway across the world from the village you have spent your whole life in. Life won’t come to you. There’s a reason that there are so many clichés about grabbing bulls by their horns and making the most of life. Make a change that scares the living daylight out of you and you might just be surprised by the purpose it gives you.
Mantra number 3 – Now is the time to be reckless and selfish
To those who recently (or not so recently) graduated then I’m going to make the assumption that right now you don’t have a job you want to keep for the next forty years, or a mortgage or kids. There is nothing holding you back from doing exactly what you want to do with your life. In five years time that might not be the case, so what are you waiting for?
We don’t all know what we want to do with our lives. When I was five and we had to write the standard ‘What I want to be when I grow up’, I wrote that I wanted to be an ‘author and illustrator’ (pretty sure I didn’t spell illustrator right the first time, but we all start somewhere). I don’t know if I will achieve that dream, maybe I’ll end up selling insurance, who knows! But it is nice to think that five year old me would be excited to grow up to be twenty-two year old me. A lot of people wanted to be astronauts or doctors, some people want to be Michael Jordan. I have always known what I wanted to do but if you don’t have a clue, the only way to find out is scare tactics.