Back to School No More

A blog piece for Lengro Magazine, 01/09/2020

Back to School No More

September is a strange time, one that I always dreaded. I never particularly enjoyed school, and I don’t miss it much, but I do miss the feeling of new beginnings that it brought with it.

I am one of the unlucky few that finished university during lockdown. It was an extremely tough time, knowing I would not get a chance to say goodbye to my classmates, campus, and teachers, whilst also completing my entire dissertation in lockdown; not to mention the cancelation of our graduation. Luckily, UoB is holding our graduation ceremony in February along with the winter graduates, but it won’t be the same without Brighton’s sunshine.

The stress that this brought is deepened by the fact that we are yet another generation to graduate during a recession, making it a very unfortunate time to be looking for a job or career. I am so lucky to have discovered Lengro, and to have Claire take me under her wing to help run this magazine. But apart from that, the job market is impossible to get through right now. Hopefully Tesco is still hiring!

Coronavirus aside, I had always been nervous to finish university. The fact that it was my last year of education didn’t really set in until it was already over. Although I don’t miss school, I will definitely miss uni – I had 3 of the best years at University of Brighton: I fell in love with the city, learned a lot about my subject and about myself, and made some lifelong friends. It also brings the question “So what are you going to do now?” from every single member of my family – the truth is that I have no idea. I have never known what I have wanted to do, and kind of hoped that I would have figured it out by the time uni ended.

What’s scarier about University ending is the lack of a safety net. I have swapped lectures, discounts, and a student loan for a never-ending black hole of adult responsibilities. Council tax? No thanks! The last 18 years of my life have been filled with education – and although I will always be learning new things, I will never have the same structure and reliability I had during my education, something that I didn’t realise I would miss until it was gone.

This feeling has been felt by thousands, and has been dubbed “graduate blues”, a nicer term for “post-graduate depression”. When you’ve spent the last 3 years worrying about the end result, and it finally gets there, there is an overwhelming feeling of “what now?” That, accompanied by the endless responsibilities of adulthood, almost £50,000 in debt, and now a recession, is enough to put you in a downward spiral. City Mental Health Alliance in 2019 said that at least 49% of students feel that their mental wellbeing declined after leaving university.

So, what can we do about it? First and foremost, it is important to pinpoint how severe your graduate blues are, and to seek help if needed – links below.

-Talk to people – your mum, your partner, and especially your uni friends. It’s likely that they are going through the exact same as you right now, and you can be there for each other. This will also help remind you that not everything from university is gone – you will always have your uni friends, and most importantly, all the funny memories you have with them.

-Don’t forget your hobbies. Remember all the stuff you kept yourself busy with during lockdown? Get back into it, or push yourself to try something new. If you are keeping yourself busy, it will give your brain less time to worry about the future. With gyms reopened, exercise is a great way to get out of your head and combat negative thoughts. For more tips on this, check out Lengro’s personal trainer, Kirsty Constable, who has a lot of tips and tricks to keep yourself motivated.

-Try not to be disappointed if you don’t get your dream job right away. Not many graduates do, and especially this year, disappointment will be likely. So keep trying, be resilient, and be kind to yourself. You will get there eventually.

-Take a gap year. Although the typical traveling gap year may be a bit out of reach right now, you can still take a gap year to stop you from jumping into an unwanted career too soon. Take some time to think about your career path, or to just save up some money for the future. You are still young, so it’s fine to take some time out before you start your career.

-Celebrate your achievements. Although graduation was cancelled, you can still sensibly celebrate with your friends over brunch or your back garden. Recognise your successes, made even more victorious by completing university in lockdown. No matter your grade, the hard work over the last 3 years has paid off. Allow yourself to feel happy about it!

I hope this article has helped at least one person. You are not alone!

Until next time,

Devina xx