“Nobody said it was easy, but nobody said it would be this hard. Oh, take me to the past…” These words from Coldplay’s Scientist express the feeling that most people are left with shortly after their University education. I for one thought I had my life planned out before I wrote my final papers. But, a few weeks after graduation; I began to wish I never graduated. This feeling is often described as post-graduation depression. During the final year, shortly before graduation a lot of students are left with some negative feelings which can be described as pre-graduation stress or depression. The negative feelings are triggered by fear of changes (that are bound to happen) after graduation – fear of getting a job; fear of being lonely; fear of losing good friends; fear of moving back home (this is often about the hardest); and numerous other possible fears.
I should add that pre-graduation stress is not peculiar to university graduates. Some go through this stress during the last days of their secondary school education. It is generally triggered by trying to plan ahead of graduation; trying to decide what to make out of one life after graduation (university or secondary school). This could happen even to the best of us; so I urge you to have the following in mind while preparing for your final papers:
- Change Is Good: Change is constant we hear, but it’s hard to understand. Truth is no matter how open we are to change; change comes with some level of stress. As exciting as the thought of writing the last paper and defending our project is, the fear of change can ruin all the excitement. There are a lot of unforeseen changes that could occur once you graduate. If the changes don’t happen; your life would remain the same and you certainly do not want that. This is the time to fasten your seatbelt and get ready for the bumpy ride.
- Structure Is Blessing: One of the things that school does is provide your life with some kind of structure. I am sure you hate the structure and wish to rebel against it. I hated it myself while in school and missed some lectures intentionally (my little rebellious secret). You’d never realise the beauty of this structure till a few weeks after graduation. No more needs to wake by 5 am; you find yourself sleeping throughout the day and wishing that your day has been planned out while you sleep. Pity, until you can afford a PA, no one would plan your day, but you. So, mourn the structure school life gave you a bit and get up and face reality.
- You’d Deal With Your Finance: This is the hardest part if you ask me. Truth is, if you were broke in the university, you’d be broker afterwards. It doesn’t really matter how much your parents are worth. Some get the memo that they have to be independent even before their final papers. Some parents put it out there without mincing words; some would cut your allowances; while others could be sublime or suggestive about it. And even without the suggestions, it is something that everyone expects that you should do. You can’t deal with your finance without a job.
- The Job Market Sucks: I hate to bring you the sad news. But, the job market frigging sucks. First off, there are fewer jobs to go round; then the million years of experience every employer expects you to have; your dream job could even go missing; then you find out that people in the dream job are underpaid. Let’s not forget that everything seems to be expensive all of a sudden and you need as much money as you can get. What to do? You have to work all the same. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your fresh graduate self can’t figure everything out in a few weeks. Try out that job regardless of the little pay; start a side hustle while at the job. Learn new skills. Go entrepreneurial if you can.
- The Real World Is Overwhelming: Once you get to the final year, you’d hear a lot of “the real world” from your lecturers. I kid you not; life after graduation is overwhelming. Everything happens at the same time and goes wrong at the same time. The job stress is no joke; the way saving becomes a challenge; the fact that you make no headways with your relationships when everyone else seems to be getting married and I can go on and on.
- You Are Not Alone: It’s easy to forget that you are not alone; but, don’t. It’s a phase of life and you are not alone. There is a million and one other young graduates’ world over trying to find their footings too. Give yourself a break and take life one step at a time. No one expects you to figure things out immediately.
- It Is Not As Easy As It Seems: Don’t be fooled, it is not as easy as it seems. I remember one of my friends currently doing his IT dropping by to ask me about post-graduation life. He is already scared. And he inspired this post. I tell you, don’t believe what you see on Social Media. Don’t feel jealous by our (them older graduates) impressive resumes on LinkedIn. WE. ARE. STILL. GRINDING. Forget the laughs and the beautiful pictures on IG; the fact that we seem to rock the best gadgets. All na packaging.
- Success Is Relative: You have to understand this. You have to define your own life and find out what you want in your life. You should celebrate yourself for being able to send off an application. You should pat yourself on the back if you get called for an interview; even if someone else gets picked. You could be in your own hustle while your friends are getting jobs. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are getting closer to your dreams every day and becoming a better version of yourself.
- You Could Seek Help: Talk to your parents and older relatives. It doesn’t matter if they graduated from the university themselves. At least, at some point they were caught up in a similar situation; their advice would be more helpful than you can imagine. Talk to older friends too. Conduct some research; there are a lot of free resources online that can help.
- You Should Be Grateful For NYSC: At the risk of sounding hypocritical (my friends know that I am anti-NYSC); I encourage you to be grateful for NYSC. On the average, a university graduate stays at home for 6 to 18 months before going for service. And you are unqualified for employment until you serve. But, there are some organisations willing to allow you to intern with them; or work part-time. These opportunities can afford you time to figure your life out; you may even get interested in an industry you never considered. NYSC sometimes post few lucky ones to places they get their dream jobs and learn skills they otherwise wouldn’t have. This doesn’t change the fact that I think NYSC should be scrapped or greatly re-structured.
How did you deal with pre-graduation stress? How are you dealing with pre-graduation stress? Share your experience; it could be the answer someone else is looking for. One love!!!