3 May 2020

Post Graduate Life: A Year On

Well there I am; a proud little Graduate from the Class of 2018 ready to embark on her future as a writer and discover just where she fits into the confusing puzzle that is life. 

It's almost been two years since I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA (Hons) degree in Creative Writing and if I'm honest, I still don't have a clue what I'm doing with my life. In fact, I don't think anybody does and that's okay. 

In one of our final lectures, a guest speaker stood in a room full of hopeful, talented, soon-to-be graduates and told us that getting a job as a writer would be 'near enough impossible'. It's safe to say my lecturers were horrified but as students we just looked at each other and laughed. We were getting degrees, how hard could it be? 

But they were right, it's really damn hard. 

Once you have your degree, people will presume that getting a job is easy but that's not always the case. Employers want experience which as a graduate you probably do have, its just not in a professional environment. This is why finding employment is so difficult, especially in the arts. 

I thought that getting a job as a writer would be easier, or that I'd at least be taken seriously because I'd got such a high qualification. I thought I'd be inundated with internships and apprenticeships where I could work with writers and further my skills. I thought we'd have continued support from the University, have guidance on how to write a successful job application and where to look for opportunities. 

What actually happened is a completely different story. 

It basically felt like we'd been thrown in at the deep end and we couldn't swim. 

After receiving what felt like a thousand rejection emails, commenting on my lack of 'experience', I decided to take a year out. I was lucky enough to have a small part time job throughout my studies so I took on more hours at work and tried to enjoy life; go out with my friends, travel to new places and experience the things I never had the time (or money) to do when I was a student. 

I know some of you probably think that's a waste but after putting blood, sweat and tears into getting my degree, it felt like I needed some time out. Education is all I've ever known since the age of five, it was one thing after another and I never took a break. I felt so uninspired and I realised that I needed to experience life to have things to write about. 

In summary, Post-Grad life sounds a little bit like this: 

'What are you going to do now?' 
'What job have you got lined up?'
'Oh, well what will you do with that degree?'
'Are you going to teach?'
'You're working where? That's nothing to do with your degree is it?'
'Are you not going doing a Masters?' 

It literally makes me want to SCREAM. 

Getting a degree quickly goes from being a celebrated and recognised achievement to a constant pressure to actually use your new qualification. But what if your degree actually puts you off your once 'dream' career? It sure did with me. No one ever talks about that and it's important to remind yourself that it's totally okay. 

According to research, the average millennial will have at least ten jobs before the age of forty. It's natural that we're going to get bored and want a change in career so what does it matter if you're not using your degree? You still worked hard for it, it's your name on that piece of paper and nobody can take that away from you. 

The truth is, nothing can prepare you for Post-Graduate Life.

The structured routine you're used to goes out the window and life literally flips upside down. The majority of your friends move away, each of them with different opportunities lined up - some will go on to do a Masters, others will go travelling, others will walk straight into work, others will even start families, whilst some just don't have a clue. It's a web of comparisons and expectations and it's lonely and self-deprecating. 

It's normal to sit and think wtf am I actually doing with my life because the truth is, none of us actually know. We're all just winging it until the right opportunity comes along. We all progress at our own rates and although it's hard not to compare yourself, it's important to remember that we all have our own shit going on. 

For a while, I felt a certain pressure to make my family and friends as proud as they were at graduation. I felt like I wasn't doing anything productive and needed to better myself. This lead to even more self-doubt and just generally feeling like I wasn't good enough. Then I realised that actually, they're proud of me no matter what and they just want me to be happy. 

And I am happy.

True, I might not have a job in my degree field or be signed up to a writing agency and I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I'm still working in the job I had when I was a student but y'know what? I love it. I'm applying for jobs and  I know the right one will come along eventually but until then, my happiness is the most important thing. 

I know for those of you who are graduating this year it's going to be a seriously weird time but I just wanted to write this to remind you that it's okay if you don't have a plan. I suppose that's the beauty of it, it unfolds right in front of your eyes and you end up in places and with opportunities you could only ever dream about. 

My advice? Try not to stress about it, don't compare yourself to others and say yes to every opportunity that presents itself. As long as you work hard, be kind and put your mind to it, you can achieve anything. Also, put your own happiness first and f*** what anyone else thinks!

Lots of Love,
Meg x


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