A little lost, down, confused and stressed: leaving university and entering ‘the real world’ is a huge transition. Society and ourselves tend to put a lot of pressure on us and leaving uni can be the toughest time of all. However just because you have left the place you’ve called home for the last three years doesn’t mean it has to mark the end of your carefree teenage years, nor does it need to mark the end of your independent life with expensive rents forcing you to move back home. Leaving uni, like many things, is a case of mind over matter. Here’s how to see this transition as the beginning of your life, rather than the end of it.
1: Enjoy being back home. Free accommodation, good food, the chance to spend a friday night in watching tv rather than going out, take some time to relax at home with your family. See old friends, explore your hometown and ask for all the meals that you couldn’t be bothered to cook for yourself over the last few years.
2: And then get away. The most depressing thing you could do after university is spend months at home worrying about your future. Make plans to flat-share with friends, rent a room, work abroad or just travel if you have the money. Getting away and re-gaining your independence will help motivate you so you can work out which direction your life is going next.
3: Travel. You’ve spent the last three years getting an education, now it’s time to get out there and learn about the world. Go with a friend or on your own and take advantage of the fact that you have no commitments. Why not book a one way ticket? who knows how the places you go and the people you meet will shape the rest of your life.
4: Embellish your cv. So you’ve got your degree, now it’s time to make your cv stand out from the crowd. Along with making sure you have the basics covered such as a driving licence, go and volunteer, learn a language, develop an obscure hobby. Maybe you’re not sure what you want to do now as a career. This is the time to try everything: Personal training, law or journalism courses, photography classes, nutrition courses. How will you know what you’re good at unless you try it first?
5: Get fit. Even if you haven’t spent the last three years living off 45p super noodles, the months after uni are a great time to get yourself into optimum health and fitness. Join a gym or arrange activities with a friend. If you’re into cooking then why not look at some food blogs and set yourself tasks to cook new healthy meals. If you’re one of those people that needs something to work towards, then why not sign up for a race which you have to train for, or book a holiday with your friends to put some pressure on yourself to be beach ready.
6: Learn something. If you’ve been to uni you probably like learning (at least a little). Just because you’ve left doesn’t mean it has to mark the end of your education. Have a look online and see what short courses or evening classes are available. These could be art related, language, maths, even cooking. Your local sixth form colleges are great places to start looking.
7: Get a job. Work won’t just come to you, you’ve got to put yourself out there. If you’re ready to put your degree to good use and start making some money then it’s time to start the job search. Treat job hunting like a job. Wake up early, get dressed, go to a coffee shop or a library and start applying. It can be tedious but think how you’ll feel when it finally pays off.
8: Find a new place to call home. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you must have it all planned out before you move out and live somewhere new. As long as you have a little money behind you, pick a place that you fancy moving to and make it happen. The UK has so many amazing cities to offer beside London. Bristol, Manchester, Dublin, Cardiff, Belfast: There’s plenty of opportunities for young graduates. Have a look online first for affordable rooms or flats to rent and then just go. Get a waitress/ shop assistant job to support yourself when you first get there and spend some time job searching for something more related to your dreams once you’re there.
9: Have fun. If you’re not enjoying life then really what is the point. Go out, meet friends, do crazy things. Party to your heart’s content, live, laugh love and don’t take life too seriously. If you’re unhappy with what you’re doing then do something else. If you’re bored, do something. Don’t be negative or surround yourself with negative people. Life is short and it’s there to be enjoyed. Don’t spend time thinking about what you could and what you should be doing. Just do it.
10: Don’t go backwards. There’s a motto that I stand by in life Don’t go backwards, only move forwards. Sure sometimes, for practical reasons, that doesn’t always work out but strive to only progress in all aspects of your life. This can be emotionally: Don’t live in the past. Don’t dwell on all the fun you’ve had and all the great times that have been. If you keep looking behind you, you’ll miss what lies ahead. Plan things for the future, wonder about what tomorrow looks like, rather than re live the day before. I take this literally too. Don’t go back to old jobs because it’s easy, or visit old places, restaurants, clubs, because you find insecurity in the unknown. Channel that fear and embrace new experiences. You never know what new part of yourself you’ll find along the way.