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?
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.