Graduation: Celebration Meets Panic

Graduating from university can be daunting. But Chloe Cannell proves there are a whole lot of exciting bits, too. And remember: you’re not alone.

The end of the university year means a couple of things: a lot of studying and stress, the anticipation of summer, time away from tutors and another year closer to the end of your degree or the end altogether. The end of university means the dreaded question, ‘So what are your plans?’ Now for some this question may not be so difficult to answer, and to you I want to say congratulations, but in my mind I’m slow clapping with a dead straight smile. You may scoff that for those unsure of themselves, like me, we’ve had 3 or so years to figure it out, but this isn’t enough time when you’re too focused on juggling your part-time job with assignments, family and maybe even a social life if you’re feeling risky.

University is this beautiful bubble between being a kid and being an adult. This usually means doing things you wanted to do as a kid with the privilege of being a freethinking adult under the law. You can come home at 3am because you’re an adult. You can make a meal with more sugar than Fruit Loops because you’re an adult. You can have wine and cheese night on Wednesday because you’re an adult. You can binge watch Pretty Little Liars in a week because you’re an adult. You can spend more than your income because you’re an adult. You can have a stronger emotional connection with your Netflix than your partner because you’re an adult. You can tell yourself your part-time job is only temporary even though you’ve been there for 3 years because you’re an adult. But since you don’t likely have commitments like a 9-5 job or a toddler on your leg, you can choose to be a little dumb. And for the most part you’re excused because everyone knows at the end of this late teens early 20s moment in time you will be a grown up with a job in the field you studied so hard for.

All this time spent prolonging exposure to the adult world means when you finally finish your degree it’s fucking terrifying. You may have heard of a quarter life crisis but don’t laugh because trust me, it’s real. Don’t Google it because you will relate to it too much and become that GIF where your laugh turns into a cry. Words like ‘confused identity’, ‘misguided purpose’, ‘hopeless transition’, ‘panic’, ‘lost’, ‘anxious’ and other fun words and phrases like that come to mind. You want to be back in school when talk of the future was hypothetical but at the same time you want to be an adult because it seems more stable and ‘ok’. However, it’s hard to be an adult when you’re not respected by society for being a millennial.

Psychologists have found that the onset of depression has moved to the early 20s in the past 30 years because of the stress associated with this time… hooray. But if there’s one thing I want you to take from this stressfueled rambling, it is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Your friends are probably going through this too so talk to them. Start a journal or a blog to note your feelings. Don’t do anything drastic (unless you’re in a truly toxic situation). Like you may hate your fast food boss but it’s probably just because they’re asking you to get out of bed at 7am. Make the most of your situation. But also, and I know this is probably not what you want to hear after years of study, don’t let your degree define you. You never know what you might be good at unless you try. Everyone has their own path so manage your expectations and accept yourself. Going into the adult world is scary but your parents did it so you probably can too.

Words by Chloe Cannell.

Images by Rachael Anderson.

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