After spending the past year as a wandering graduate juggling socialising, travelling, volunteering, part-time work and existential crises, this approaching Monday I prepare to finally settle down and start a Full-Time Job. Not just 9-5 either, but 9-5.30. This is serious stuff. A big change.
I think it’s quite normal for most graduates to spend a year or two muddling through life, reluctant to seek a firm 9-5 after so many years of relative freedom and fun. If you choose to stay in education, until you graduate the next step has always been obvious; after school you go to college/sixth form and after college/sixth form, you go to university. But once university ends, there’s nothing telling you what to do next. I think it’s okay to not really know what direction to take after graduation, and it’s okay to have a year of experimentation e.g. having a ‘mental gap year’ in an attempt to ‘discover yourself’, or getting a job in a stationary shop to fund yourself while you attempt to follow your dream and make it as an artist/actor/bricklayer.
I’ve spent the past year doing standard graduate activities. I didn’t quite have a wild gap year abroad where you leap off rocks and go kayaking, but I did spend a tame month travelling round the U.S.A. I also have been involved in two different volunteering opportunities, in addition to maintaining a casual, part-time job. Whilst this has been ongoing, I’ve also been attempting to pursue my dream of being a writer, sending entries off to competitions like a mad woman. In fact, I’ve possibly been busier than some people are in full time work. The difference is, I can choose when I get up, and when I work, and for how long before I had a break. Getting this full-time job is giving up that freedom, and changing the way I’ve been living my life for a year.
The truth is, I’m really excited about this job. I’m going to be a copywriter, something that I’ve wanted to pursue for a long time. I’m very grateful for how lucky I’ve been to get this role. But I’m also very anxious, naturally.
Worries include; will I make any friends? Will I be able to cope eating dinner so late? Will I have enough snacks to sustain me during the day? Is it acceptable to bring my statue of Horus to put on my desk? What if I don’t enjoy the work?
I am generally an optimistic person, but I still do occasionally think of all the things that might go wrong. When this happens, I take a deep breath, meditate, and remember all the situations in my life that didn’t turn out as badly as I thought. Here are some examples;
- My internship in South Africa
What I thought might happen: I thought I would be doing my internship during the day, make a handful of friends at the hostel to eat dinner with, and then toddle back to my room in the evening to watch DVDs and write my book.
What actually happened: I made many friends at both the internship and the hostel, ended up going out partying about three nights a week, and had such a rampant social life that I wrote hardly any of my book during the whole two months I was there.
What I thought might happen: That I would make a couple friends to hang out with and join a few societies to keep me occupied in the evening.
What actually happened: I ended up swamped with about 20 friends, met through accommodation, my course and societies, once again resulting in a rampant social life. Still managed to pass Uni though, thankfully.
- My job interview.
What I thought might happen: That I wouldn’t get the job.
What actually happened: I got the job.
I’m not being boastful here and saying that everything in my life has gone perfectly. It hasn’t. And I certainly haven’t always been socially successful, especially at secondary school. The job might be wonderful, and the people might be wonderful. Or they might not. Or they might be somewhere in the middle. Who knows?
The point is, is that life is incredibly unpredictable. Just think about all the random, unexpected things that happen to humans every day. Life is weird, and it’s random, and it’s unpredictable.
And it’s this wisdom that stops me worrying like I used to.