Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Graduation: Two Years On

A few days ago (on 10th July), it was exactly two years since the day of my graduation ceremony. I studied English Literature at the University of York.

My Instagram and Twitter feeds at the moment are covered with proud pictures of new graduates, the latest group of people who have succeeded, and completed the next stage in their education.

It’s got me thinking back over that period, and over the three years which led up to that day, for me.

It’s a funny old thing, graduation.

There’s pride: you did it!

There’s excitement: many people see it as an important life stage. Plus you get a cap and gown.

There’s love: people are there with family and loved ones, and surrounded by their course mates.

And then these feelings are all mixed in with uncertainty.

How did I manage that?

What next?

Where now?

I have to LEAVE this place and these people?

For many that choose to go to university, it’s the next stage in a mapped-out process: primary school, high school, sixth form/college, degree. We know those next stages are coming, and a lot of comfort lies in those facts.

And after university? You either study for longer, or you get a job.

But in what? Where? How on earth do you choose where to start applying? And how do you let those employers know you’re exactly what they’re looking for?

For me, graduation was a funny old day because I didn’t enjoy the process of getting there. University was not ‘the best three years of my life’. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends, I met some great people, and I did some great things.

But my overall university experience?


Not a great one.

It was full of big realisations, and not all good ones. I left university a bit of a ‘shell’ of myself (my parents’ words) and then had a long way to go to build myself back up again.

The main point to this post is that graduation is a great day, and a day to be proud of yourself. But if you don’t feel like the happiest person in the universe, that’s ok. You’re embarking into a world full of possibilities. Your time to explore, and grow, and learn is only entering a new phase.

If you don’t have the next step perfectly planned, that’s ok. You’ve got time to figure it out.

And whether you’ve had the best three (or more) years of your life ever, or you’ve struggled along the way, the next stage has the potential to be even better.

Congratulations to the newest year of graduates, and good luck with what the coming years hold. From personal experience, things can keep getting better and better.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

23 Years, 23 Lessons.

On 7th July, I turned 23, and after an amazing week of enjoying my birthday, I’m feeling somewhat reflective. 

I’m planning, I’m thinking, I’m sorting through my thoughts. 

And whilst I process these thoughts, for today, here’s a list of some of the 23 ‘life lessons’ I feel I’ve learned over the last 23 years.

1. Real friendships take work, and effort to maintain.

2. Don’t be afraid to drift away from friendships that leave you feeling drained, or tired, or not valued.

3. You won’t always understand every decision those around you make… But if you care about them, support them.

4. Some people will have very different views to you on a whole range of things, and that’s ok.

5. The path that’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for you.

6. It’s ok not to have absolutely everything figured out. Most people don’t.

7. Work hard. It will pay off in the end.

8. Making mistakes is fine, as long as you learn from them.

9. Alone time is important. Don’t feel bad for taking a little time to just be ‘you’.

10. Eat right most of the time, and exercise at least a bit. You know you feel better for it.

11. Don’t kick yourself when things don’t happen exactly the way you planned them. Things are allowed to shift and change.

12. Even if the goal stays the same, there can be many alternative routes to get there.

13. Jealousy is rubbish, but we all feel it, especially in this social media world. Channel it into feeling pleased for people, then let it fuel your actions towards reaching your own goals.

14. Try not to compare yourself to everyone else too often. It can be absolutely exhausting.

15. Read. Novels, non-fiction, blogs, articles, newspapers. It’s one of the best ways to learn, open your eyes, and expand your horizons.

16. Say no. Sometimes. Know when you’re over-stretching yourself.

17. Say yes. Sometimes. Take chances and explore opportunities.

18. Anxiety is horrible, but you can get on top of it. I feel like a completely different person to the ‘Sophie’ of a year ago.

19. Be honest with yourself. How do you really feel? What do you really want?

20. Experiences are much more valuable than random objects. My favourite birthday moments this year were of doing things, not receiving things.

21. If you have an amazing family, or even just a pretty great one, recognise it and feel grateful. So many people aren’t lucky enough to have that.

22. Be excited. Look forward to things. Enjoy the moments when things feel ‘just right’. Those memories and plans keep you going when you wake up having a bit of a sad day.

23. Never underestimate the power of a text, or a phone call. Remembering someone had something coming up, or just checking in, can brighten their day.

Do you have any to add to my list?
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