The First Year
So, it’s been just over a year since I finished university – I graduated in June 2016, which feels like an almost comically long time ago now. And, in the months that have intervened, I have found things…well, different.
Lots of people prepared me, or at least tried to, for what the jump from my life at home to what my life at university would be like. I found that change difficult in lots of ways, but, in retrospect, it was the jump from university to real, adult like that knocked me the most off-balance.
Because at university, your days and weeks and years are regimented. You go to class at this time, on this afternoon, for eight or ten or twelve weeks, and then you take this many number of days off to study for this number of exams, and then this many months away for your summer break before you return to start the whole thing over again. It suited me, as someone who responds well to Things Being In Place, and since I came to university more or less straight from high school, the shock of transitioning from one education center to another was pretty mild.
So, I did my four years and got my degree and moved to a new city and then sat down and thought, fuck. I had planned for the practicalities of finishing university – I had a job that I could support myself on and a flat ready to jump straight into – but when it came to the emotional change that comes from one of the first really enormous life changes I ever made, I was up shit creek without so much as a fucking dinghy.
I had so many questions. Like, what should my life look like now? Should I be going off and having adventures or focusing on my career? Are my friends and the people around me doing it – whatever it was – better than me? Had I wasted time getting a degree when I could have being doing my job without it? Was the life I was living now, the one where I worked and ate and bookmarked recipe books, was it it? Was this adulthood? And if it was, did I like it? And if I didn’t like it, what the fuck could I do about it?
The last year has been one of the most intensely confusing, strange, and difficult years of my life, and I feel like it’s only just now that I’m starting to get a handle on how I want my life to look and to take steps towards that. It took a long time, and I acted out in some shitty ways and saw other people around me – people who were spending their first year outside of university – doing the same. University had provided a safe space for us, one where we were socially, intellectually, rountinely accounted for in ways that I hadn’t even noticed, and yet I was told the hardest thing once it was over would be paying the bills (not to suggest that money problems aren’t a problem for a lot of graduates, but you catch my drift). No-one prepared me for what life inside my head would look like as a grown adult, and I wish to fuck they had.
Sometimes, it still feels like I’m floating about with no purpose and I get that awful sick oh fuck what if I’ve messed this all up in some profound and unfixable way, but those moments are becoming fewer and further between and I’m happy with that. I wish I could say that there was a specific thing or method I hooked on to to aid this process, but there wasn’t: it was a matter of time, confusion, and sheer bloody-minded determination to see what came next. So this isn’t a post meant to point you in the direction of a solution for the feelings that came and took a big shit on my life over the course of a year, but to tell you that you’re not alone in having them. And to offer you this picture of me and my little cat to show you that life does go on, and involves tiny, furry roommates who might make the transition to real life a little easier.