How To Overcome Graduation Anxiety

“So what will you being doing after University?”. - Internal panic begins to build inside of me whenever I am posed with this question. Whether it is family, friends or even neighbours, everyone seems to think that this is a wonderful question to ask at every given possibility. Throughout my first two years of university, I used to pretty much get away with saying I wasn’t really sure and I wanted to concentrate on my studies and "not wish the days away". But now that I am reaching the end of my degree, things have gotten pretty real for me and the possibility of that question being asked tends to be met with internal panic and stress whenever I am in a social environment.

Throughout the last few months, my friends have all gotten pretty good at avoiding the topic of the future in every capacity of the word and I began to realise that I’m definitely not the only one who is feeling the pressure of our studies coming to a close. Not only are important deadlines building up but we are all faced with the question: “What next?”

Ever since I can remember, my life has pretty much been on a set path and I always sort of knew what I was going to be doing for the foreseeable future. I moved through different stages of schooling and friendships and dreams all within the comfort of my childhood home. Up until university, I was lucky enough to pretty much know what was around the corner for me. And now I don’t even have the slightest idea.

Graduating this summer is definitely bittersweet. On the one hand, there is something so comforting about the metaphorical, woollen safety blanket that university provides you with, but I cannot stop thinking about all the new opportunities and experiences that will be opened up for us. Plus, the thought of never having to sit in an excruciatingly silent seminar group for two hours makes the outside world seem very appealing.

In order to overcome this constant fear of the unknown, I have figured out a way that may help us all move past nostalgia. The reason that I am longing for the past is because it was real. The future doesn’t exist yet and we don’t know for certain that everything will work out. However when we look back at the past with our rose-tinted glasses everything seemed to be okay, because it's so easy to only remember the positive experiences. We survived all of our problems and our memories are tangible things to us, no matter how skewered they may be. It is natural for us to want to hold on to and relive the memories from narratives that are so familiar.

Although the best part of the last three years has existed of many deadlines, essays, academic reading, one too many Jaeger shots and a whole mess of emotions, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. University has taught me the most valuable lessons, pretty much all of which took place outside of the lecture theatre. Not only have I grown as a person, but I have seen those around me switch from wide-eyed first years to fully-fledged adults. We need to remember that life always has a way of working itself out. So maybe we should accept that it is our time to step into the world and try to not be so afraid of the changes that face us. After all, if things don’t actually work out as we had hoped, we can always jet off to some remote beach and live out the rest of our lives on a sun lounger, right?!

Written by Joanna Turner