It is hard to believe that this time last year I was anxiously awaiting my name to be called out with a group of other students from my department. All dressed up, processing the build-up to three years of working my ass off for this one moment, with a single thought break dancing through my mind ‘don’t fall, don’t fall…walla you’re going to fall’. Three hundred and six five days later in the ‘real world’ so to speak and here are the six most important lessons I have learnt:
1) I Have Spent Fifteen Years in Education Only to Realise I Have Learnt Nothing.
If am a freelancer, how do I pay my taxes? How do I negotiate? How do I learn to love myself? How do I design a life that will make me happy? How do I manage my money?
But I do know how to solve for x which is useful for my everyday life- said no one ever.
I cannot express strongly enough how many times this year I found myself thinking; why am I only learning this now, at the age of twenty three? I have felt more like an idiot this year than I have ever felt my entire life. University does not prepare you for the world, the three years I spent getting my degree were amazing, no doubt. However, part of the point of getting a degree is specializing in something, but being so focused on the details of one subject makes you forget the bigger picture.
2) Money Does Buy Happiness.
I have always confidently said, ‘money can’t buy happiness’… until I started experiencing life without it. It’s really easy to say this when you actually have money.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that family, friends and being a good person are of paramount importance and that there are definitely some things money cannot buy. However, this year I have discovered that money is essential for survival, as much as I would like to be a monk about this and say I don’t need it, it is in fact the oxygen required to survive. Additionally, the stress that comes with lacking money decreases your happiness.
3) You Will Lose Some Friends
Perhaps the most painful part of post university life is discovering that convenience plays a huge role in why you spent time with some of your friends. It’s all well and great when you are going to the same lectures, attending the same events and know all the same people. But, put some distance, time zones and different work schedules between you and you may discover that not everyone is willing to put in effort to preserve the friendship….and perhaps, sometimes; you belong in the ‘everyone’ category.
I have stayed in contact with more lecturers than I have with my university friends, and I still think about these people fondly whom unfortunately, I no longer call friends. I often recall all the times we laughed uncontrollable together, yet I am equally saddened by the fact that what we once had no longer exists, but alas, loss is part of life.
4) You Can Choose Who You Spend Your Time With and You May Be Surprised By Your Choices.
We tend to pick the best out of the pool of people in school, and then we call them our friends. But that does not mean that the choice is completely ours to begin with. However, when you are no longer essentially forced to spend time with your peers that means you get to spend time with whoever you want. And who you want to spent time with might surprise you, for me this has been thirty five year old hypnotherapists, twenty something physics masters graduates and Texan evangelists.
5) You Start to Doubt Things You’ve Believed Your Whole Life.
I had to fight aggressively to convince myself that I can still accomplish my dreams- a belief I had effortlessly prescribed to for as long as I can remember, without a single doubt. However, once I attempted to secure a job in the film industry upon graduating, I quickly realised that no one wants to pay me until I have worked for free for a couple of years. For the first time in my life I began to question whether I could live the life I wanted or if I had to settle for a life that would ensure I could just survive. Staying optimistic required a lot of energy and I was not prepared for that inner battle.
6) The World is Abundant with Opportunities.
I did not realise how big of a commitment it was to be eternally dedicated to school- or so it seemed. I took academia a lot more seriously than your average student, putting it as a priority ahead of socialising, family events and unfortunately even health. So to have something that felt like it was part of my existence suddenly lift from my life, was just abnormal, like my whole being did not know what to do with the absence of it. Being perpetually unavailable from September to July alone closed up any opportunities I could have possibly pursued. I feel like I have done more this year alone that in the last decade. I am very fortunate to have experienced some really amazing adventurous; from teaching Czech millionaires how to negotiate in English to stopping avid fans of self-help guru and author Robin Sharma from spending more than thirty seconds with him. As cliche as this sounds, I really do feel like the world is a bigger place with a ridiculous amount of things to do. But being committed to studying full time for our entire lives up until this point, I never felt like I had the freedom to say yes to or even look for opportunities because of this toxic marriage I had with it. It was like being on a short leash, I had some freedom to stray away and look from a far at all the things I could do, but eventually I had to always come back to it. Graduating from university and leaving education for good was like cutting the leash and being able to be submerged into this world buzzing with opportunity, filling me to the brim with optimism.
In conclusion, navigating my way through post-university life has been incredibly confusing. I do not recall standing in line for this seemingly never ending roller-coaster of emotions. However, once the confusion started to subside, excitement took its place as I began to see all the possibilities ahead of me.