If you’ve managed to ignore that our country is in a state of ‘decline’, yay for you – you’re either successful, or you may live under a blanket; probably cartoon-themed.
‘A million young people unemployed!’ says News. ‘Stop using Comic Sans on your CV, you deluded youths,’ says BBC3’s god-awful programme Up For Hire. ‘What are you doing now, then?’ says distant relative at uncomfortable family gathering. As tempting as it is to bury your face in your Cheerios and inhale until the pain gently stops, there is another way! As a recent graduate myself, here’s what I’ve learnt about surviving the unemployed pool of the university machine.
Allow yourself to go through the motions. And not necessarily in the following order. Denial. I was all, ‘I’m graduated, and what? No need to hurry.’ I got a waitressing job back at home, spent my entire Summer serving grilled fish and paid off my overdraft. Then came Solid Motivation. I attacked my savings, sent out job applications, looked at flatshares… Utter Desperation when nothing was working, then Panic. I signed up to the dole upon realising the entire uni process doesn’t actually guarantee a result in any job, let alone one that you want – hello Isolation and Misery.
Obviously, all of that sucked. But I’ve now reached a state of calm. Someone had to tell me, ‘Stop being so hard on yourself, it’s only been a few months’. The world gives you this engrained sense that you have to rush, when really there is no reason to. Keep trying and stay motivated. But don’t beat yourself up. It’s cool – if you want to get somewhere in life and you are willing to go the distance, then you will get there, sooner or later.
Don’t compare yourself to others unless it’s as a source of inspiration. Go at your own pace. It’s easy to look at friends who have sorted their lives and think, ‘If it’s that easy then why not for me?’ When I asked people further, they’d struggled just as much as anyone to get there. Everyone is in the same boat here, don’t stress that you’re the unluckiest loser in Gradville.
Your degree doesn’t have to determine your direction. I studied English Literature and Creative Writing because I love it. And I loved studying it. I got good grades, became better educated and had an awesome time. But I’ve discovered that most jobs English supposedly ‘grants’ me aren’t all that appealing unless I want to become well acquainted with a filing cabinet. It’s ok to go off course – stay open-minded and broaden your search. I became a better person through my degree and I don’t regret a second of it, but it doesn’t have to define me – it’s just part of me. You decide what makes up the rest of you, whatever that is.
Do what you have to do to survive, but don’t sacrifice what makes you happy. We spend a ton of our lives at WORK. Not drinking wine, dancing, watching films, playing Xbox, jumping in the sea, sleeping or anything else cool and fun. I learnt that whilst doing twelve hour shifts and feeling like I’d never wear my own clothes again. If you’re in a job you hate, recognize your interests and nurture them. Don’t sacrifice what you love. If you love to travel, look at what careers will allow you to do so – travel writer, air steward, club rep etc. If you love drawing, start working on a portfolio or project on the side. Document your capabilities; you never know when they might come in handy as a reference to show what you can do.
Don’t assume that these are permanent life decisions. Mate. No! If you end up happy with your career for the rest of your life, good for you. But maybe you’ll follow a certain direction for a few years, then realise something else holds the key to your aching, unsatisfied heart. Maybe you’ll have to study again – so get onto UCAS. Nothing is a permanent choice; you can change your mind whenever you want to. Cheesy, but your life is what you make it. So if you want to be a circus performer, go ask a clown.
Finally, ignore the media. It has been my most useful realisation. What happens to a person is massively down to the individual, and all the media does is generalise. Sure there’s some truth there, but to them, ‘a good story’ is to dish out a huge dose of depressing. Try your hardest, do what you feel will work for you, and switch the TV off when some dick journalist is bellowing her ‘bomb all universities’ opinion that no one asked for. Stay positive and screw the rest. Good luck, grad. /salute.