What They Don’t Tell You After Graduating

Spoiler Alert: Life is Crazy.

Just over a year ago, I graduated from Durham University and I’ll never forget what I felt that day. A sense of achievement? Yeah, a little bit. Relieved I’d never have to study again? Somewhat. Nervous about tripping in my gown as I collected my diploma on stage? Yep, that surprisingly preoccupied me for half of the day, but all in all, the main feeling I had was excitement. Excitement because finally, a new chapter of my life was about to begin. It may have been a miserable, rainy day in June, but after 16 years of working my butt off, I had my first and I was ready to take on the world as a fully fledged adult… if only I’d had the sense to recognise the weather as the omen it truly was.

Because, let’s face it, a year on and I’m not exactly what you would call a “success” by modern standards. After a few months of trying to break into my “dream” industry, I ended up doing something completely different and as of two weeks ago, I handed in my notice with no plans as to what to do next. I have ideas (I’m not crazy), but nothing solid apart from maybe a lower self-esteem and a new found bitterness. It’s funny how obsessed I’ve been these past 6 months about being able to walk out that door and bitch about how awful working life was, because now that I’m here, it’s like a pin’s dropped, I’ve remembered: as if I’m the only one who’s ever hated their job?

The thing is, when you come out of University, people make out that you can have it all –¬†if you’re smart enough, if you work hard enough, the world is your oyster. But it’s not because¬†whoever you set your eyes on, they all have their own crosses to bear. Not everyone in the world is starving, but each one of us is always hungry for something more – an affliction that man has tried to cure since the beginning of time but sadly, hasn’t managed at all. Wasn’t Einstein the one who said that trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result was a sign of madness? Well, this madness needs to stop because guess what, graduates? No matter how many success stories you’re fed and how many dreams fill your head, you’ll never have everything you want.

But the truth is, just as life is brutal, so it is beautiful. This has been the messiest, trickiest year of my life, but I’ve also never felt so hopeful or empowered. Why? Because that June rain is the reason why summer stayed green for so long and all the hard times I’ve faced this year have taught me more than any textbook ever has. Perhaps it’s lame that I look back on every year and think “God, how silly I was!”, but at least that means every year, I’m progressing, learning, hopefully becoming a better person.

So I guess I do need to give Durham some credit because when I started my course, this is what I was told: don’t let your degree get in the way of your education. I just think it’s something worth re-iterating at the end too because whatever your degree, however much you think you know about the world, the one thing that’s certain in life is this – that we all still have a hell of a lot to learn.

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