I am still finding it difficult to believe that I am no longer a student. My graduation last month passed me by in a blur of delighted congratulations and tearful good byes but the thing that most struck me was the realisation that a great deal of us graduates are not where we expected to be by this milestone. The majority of my friends still don't have a plan for the coming year and this is undeniably terrifying for a group of ambitious people who have had their lives mapped out until this point.
Most people I have spoken to have applied for a great number of jobs but are graduating with no offers. These are friends who have attended top universities and got excellent marks but have found that there are hundreds of people in the same position as them, applying for the same jobs. Most are moving back into their family homes and express their frustration with the seeming reality that they haven't moved forwards since their degree, but are instead having to retreat into a former state of security in which they depend on their parents. Staring into the abyss of having to become a 'proper adult' is proving to be incredibly daunting.
To some people reading this, the phrase 'First World Problems' may come to mind. However, I think that we need to acknowledge that a lot of new graduates are at a time in their lives that they find unpredictable, unstable and frequently uninspiring. For many, the goal that they have been working so hard towards during their degree (and for which they have paid £27,000 just in tuition fees at least) has not materialised. Added to this is the pressure of trying to maintain an illusion of success to those around us so conversations with friends often turn into a whirlwind of information about all the interviews and assessment centres that may or may not have materialised.
At my graduation ceremony, I asked one of my friends what her plans were for the future to which she answered "not that question again!" I breathed a huge sigh of relief at someone else acknowledging how exhausting it is to try and repeatedly explain your 'purpose' to those around you. With my question I proved that even though I was dreading someone else asking me something that I didn't know the answer to, it hadn't stopped me putting someone else in the same position. So fellow graduates; let's not be intimidated by each other's success or scrutinise each other's uncertainty. If we can all at least acknowledge how difficult some of us are finding looking into the future, it may make things easier for all of us.
So here's to the other graduates of this year who are also feeling vaguely terrified about life. Let's have some solidarity in our 'officially unemployed' status (as my friend named her graduation photo album on Facebook). After all, it's enough to deal with just knowing that we can't use our precious student discount cards without having to worry about impressing each other right now.