Dear Graduates

     The real world is hard. I could try to be nicer about this, but that’s the truth of it at the end of the day. I’ve only been in it for about a month at this point (a month travelling after finishing university definitely does not count), and I feel like I’m already losing the plot. I’m not saying a university was a walk in the park either – mountains of reading and the stress of deadlines isn’t exactly what I call “fun” – but we had the luxury of more free time in our student years than we will probably ever have in our lives again. I certainly didn’t love university, but that’s one aspect of it I’m missing already!


     So my question now, for all my fellow graduates, is what do we do now? How are the rest of you dealing with all the many, many things we have to face out in the real world? Because I for one, have no clue what to do next. Getting a job is the obvious option, but we all know that’s a hell of a lot easier said than done, given the current state of the job market. I guess some of you know exactly what you want to do with your lives, so you can start climbing the career ladder. But what about those of you who are like me, who still haven’t figured that out yet? What are you doing next? I’ve come across a lot who are “taking a break”, doing casual work until they decide on their next move. I guess this sounds like a good idea – better than living at home doing nothing at least – I’m just scared of getting stuck doing that.

     And it’s not like finding a job is the only thing we have to face. Does anyone know how to deal with the other real world stuff? I don’t even know how to arrange my own bills, I always either had them included or my flatmate dealt with it! And how does council tax work? When do I have to start paying off my student loan? What do I need if I want to work abroad? Am I going to have to remind myself how to drive soon? Do I have to start taking out a million types of insurance? And what the hell is a mortgage?!

     I’m hoping I’m not the only one feeling a little overwhelmed by stuff like this – and it’s not like I have to deal with all of that immediately either of course! But just the thought of it is stressing me out right now. However, to backtrack and give anyone interested some more information, this last week or two has been particularly stressful, in terms of figuring out my next move. Since finishing my travels, I’ve been working at summer school again, as I have in previous years. However, my contract finishes tomorrow. And I’m struggling with what to do next. I don’t want to say too much, until I know things for definite, but I had provisionally accepted a job offer and was making arrangements to start next month. However, I had various concerns about it, which I had hoped would be resolved soon, but even after discussing things with them I was still unsure, so I started looking about again. I ended up getting another offer (less than a week after initially applying), with a much better deal and a more stable position, but with considerably more hours, which was putting me off slightly. I know that the real world involves more hour than university did, I’m not that naïve, but this is really quite a lot. However, considering where and what it is, and the qualifications I have, it’s probably the best I can hope for, so that’s looking like the plan for the moment – again, I’ll probably explain more another time. But accepting that job comes with a whole slew of other things to arrange for it – yay, more stress!

     None of this is a long term plan – I don’t have anything resembling one of those. How many graduates out there do? I’m genuinely curious, as I feel like there are some out there who have everything planned out, a life of achievable goals, and then others like me, with no idea what they’re doing. I don’t think my blog title has ever been so apt as it is right now. So even if I do take this job, it’s not something I want as a “real career” – so what do I do after that? Having a degree means that I feel like I’m expected to get a real job and career, making good money, but how do I do that when I don’t know what I want to do? Will I be viewed as a disappointment or failure if I never figure that out? Will I feel like I’m wasting time if I just mess around for too long? What is actually going to make me happy? And are there any other of you graduates out there feeling like this?

     Long story short, my life has been pretty much mapped out up until now. And in some ways it’s liberating to not know what’s coming next. But it’s also completely terrifying. So can anyone provide me with some reassurance or advice or anything really? Am I alone in feeling like this? Will things work out? What do I do next?

A confused graduate
     P.S. I looked really hard to get a photo without a graduation cap, because Edinburgh University doesn’t use them!