It’s that season for graduates again. Freshers pour into every university in the country, eyes full of stars and brains full of far more talent and potential than our own. “That must be it, right?” we ask ourselves as we scroll endlessly through pictures of the younger, more interesting, probably-capable-of-laser-vision people we used to literally look down on in the playgrounds of primary school. Did we mention younger?
If you went through university, there’s a chance you’re nodding now. Suddenly around this time of year it seems as if everyone’s got the jump on you, like your three or more years studying have somehow put you back, not forward. When you find yourself with a bad case of the Graduate Blues, the first thing to remember is that you’re not alone; this is one of those situations in which being not quite as unique as usual is a good sign. We’ve graduated, we’ve put one foot boldly in front of the other, and we’ve toppled facefirst into the abyss. Everybody tells you that real life is nothing like university, and yet it still kind of stings finding it out firsthand. Remember this: comparison is the death of happiness. Cliché but true. When you compare yourself to a totally unrelated freshman, or an imaginary version of yourself with better hair who you’ve somehow disappointed, you’re killing your chances of even just liking yourself.
Here’s how to beat the Graduate Blues:
1 – If you’re going to compare, compare properly. Sure, that one person hasn’t stress-eaten herself into a different dress size (yet), but she also hasn’t learned what you have yet. If you looked at yourself through her eyes, you’d be impressed.
2 – Be calm in the knowledge that LOTS of other people secretly feel this way too. And hey, do you admire your friends and ex-classmates? Odds are they’re seconds from screaming uncontrollably too. Maybe hug it out.
3 – Take a step back. Look around you and count the things you have to be thankful for. Even meditate – seriously. Look at your life, and remind yourself that this is the first time the training wheels have ever come off. It’s natural to wobble, remember learning to ride a bike? You’ll get it.
4 – Focus on yourself. Worrying doesn’t change anything, and it might take time to learn that. Little by little, allow yourself to do things that you enjoy. Paint nails, paint the town, paint still life. Pick up an instrument or a box set. Give yourself windows of happiness, and your own work will flourish.
5 – If you’re not where you want to be, keep moving. There is no right pace.
Practise these when you can. The world is huge, university is over, and you’re cycling without stabilisers. We promise you that your CV is better than you think, you’ve achieved way more than you give yourself credit for, and also that no one is scrutinising your daily endeavours. We’re there too. You’re doing just fine.
Words by Esmeralda Voegele-Downing