Congratulations – you finally made it to the end of your graduate journey! All the late-night revisions and stressful exams are finally behind you.
But wait, why are you feeling stressed out now that it’s all over? Oh, you’re feeling worried about the future?
Don’t worry – you are not alone. In fact, there’s even a name for this feeling you’re going through: Post-Graduation Depression. It’s not an official diagnosis but it is used to describe the feelings of loss, discouragement, worry, fear and depression. Loss because you don’t know what to do now that the bulk of your life is finally over as a student. Discouragement because maybe you think you didn’t do as well and then you worry and have intense fear about securing a job for your future. Depression? Well, that’s easy – with all of the above, you feel like the future might be pretty bleak for you.
Understand that it is a bittersweet experience. When I graduated, I was extremely happy that exams will no longer be a part of my life and that I finally have in hand a degree I can use for my future. But at the same time, while university may have prepared you for the future of securing a job, when it really comes down to it, who even knows if you will really get one (we’re not even talking about a job that you really want!). And with the job market saturated with people seeking employment and some with better credentials than you, it’s easy to feel that hopelessness that you really don’t know how to move ahead. That was exactly what I felt after graduation! My main worry? Would I really get a job? And if I did, will I be good at it?
Then there are other worries – student loans, moving to another state to look for better opportunities, leaving home to start your life as a working adult – really, just coping with adulting!
If you are currently going through this, here are some tips on how to cope.
#1 Give yourself time
Repeat after me: You don’t have to look for a job the very next day after your graduation! Uni life was tough so you deserve a minute to breathe, relax and think about what you’ve just accomplished. It’s easy to want to jump straight into looking for a job so you can accomplish your five-year plan but really, the best thing to do is cut yourself some slack and try to get used to the idea that you are no longer a student and am about to enter a new phase in your life. Embrace that and make the most of it so you are mentally prepared for the future.
#2 Don’t compare yourself with your friends
OK, so some of your friends already have jobs waiting for them after graduation. But not you – and that sucks. We get it, when we see our peers succeeding, we are bound to ask yourself where we went wrong. The answer is nowhere! What you need to accept is that every person will reach their success at his or her own rate – yes, even you. Although you have friends who excel in their careers faster than you, it’s important to know that your moment will come too if you put in the hard work.
#3 Focus on the present
Good on you for having a plan. What’s not good is to keep dwelling on that plan on what you want to achieve then when what you should really be focusing on instead of what you can achieve now. Know that most plans don’t go as… planned. So even if your five-year plan includes making management at where you want to work, who knows if you’ll even like what you’re doing two years later… or if another pandemic will hit and your industry will be severely affected! The thing to do instead is to live in the moment, grab the opportunities you have right now, and be grateful of the things you can do for yourself right this moment. The future can wait.
#4 Set achievable goals
While we emphasise on taking the time to live in the moment, it’s also a good idea to plan for the future – when you want to start working, where you want to move if you’re planning to – things that will contribute to your working life. Have a solid plan and write it down with timelines. Make sure your goals are achievable and tangible; instead of just an aspiration or idea. This way you can set sight on how you want to achieve them. Also, don’t lump everything at once, especially when you have so much on your plate! Think of what you want to achieve first (move to a different state) then once you’ve achieved that, move on to that next big thing on your list (get a job). Trying to do two big things at one time will make this period even more stressful for you.
#5 Trust yourself!
Whatever you’re going through is completely normal, and there will be highs, there will be lows. What you need to keep telling yourself is this: Everything will be OK in the end. Don’t fret on the anxiety; instead look at the possibilities waiting for you instead! Stop worrying over things that might or might not happen and live in the moment to seize whatever opportunities that come your way.
Photo by RUT MIIT on Unsplash