“So, what are you doing after you graduate?” – the question that brings a tear to the eye and vomit to the mouth of every finalist.
I don’t know about you, but every single relative I speak to seems incredibly keen to ask me this at least 3 times per social occasion, pushing me into a spiral of existential dread. The truth is, I don’t know. But what makes it worse is that everyone else seems to have their life together, when it very much feels like mine is not.
I crave the days of first year, when my biggest stresses were that I definitely would not be able to write an essay in 4 days (how things have changed). Now, with the adult world looming a mere 5 months away, I realise how unprepared I feel for real life.
Linkedin is a big contributor to my feeling of hopelessness, and I imagine it is for a lot of people. It all starts out with you making an account, because everyone else is (classic). You end up connecting with approximately 6 million random people at your college that you’ve never spoken to, some people on your course, and trying to connect with celebrities. Of course, what comes next is the crushing feeling of not having done enough with your life, because all the people that you stalked seem to have already been working at Goldman Sachs since year 11, juggling 8 internships and 3 blues along the way.
“What jobs have you applied to so far?” comes the cry from your humanities friends. “Why don’t you just stay and do a masters?” ask the scientists. “AGHGHHHGHGGHGH” I reply.
Everyone around me seems to already have a job lined up, and to have done all the relevant experience to back themselves up. In my final Hilary term, I feel like I’ve missed the boat, and no amount of swimming will catch me back up. Nothing really grabs me as a career; the only job that I can think of that wouldn’t bore me to tears is being able to play with baby hippos all day long (honestly, they’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen), and I’m not really sure if being a zookeeper gives you a brilliant pay check. Of course, money doesn’t buy happiness, but being able to afford rent probably helps a little bit.
This is the eternal problem with jobs – the hard, stressful ones are those that pay the best. It’s this conundrum that’s kept me up at night, googling things like “how to marry rich” and “how to win the lottery”, in the hopes I’ll find the secret to lifelong fulfilment. If only life were like Monopoly, and you could steal thousands from the bank with the only consequence being that your boyfriend has a hissy fit.
Part of me just wants to sack it off and go travelling for a year, in the most literal interpretation of escaping from real life. The thing is, travelling requires money – money that after 3 years of battels and no time to work, I very much do not have. In order to acquire money – and here’s the clincher – you need to get a job. We’re back to square one again, and I still don’t know what I want to do as a career.
If you’re also feeling lost, do what I did and check out the Careers Connect website. There are literally thousands of jobs and internships you can browse through, once you get over the overwhelming dread of having to think about the future. The Careers Service also have an appointment service where you can meet with one of their professionals and unload all your stress and terror, and they have to guide you in the right direction because they’re getting paid (I kid, it’s also because they’re lovely people). I spoke to one lady, who was so understanding and helpful; she gave me some pointers and resources to help me do some research into what I want to do. Even if you don’t find your dream job, it’s a step in the right direction to let them help you to sieve out the things you really don’t want to do.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others, especially at this university. Everywhere we look, people seem to be doing better than us, doing more than us, going further than us. But it’s not healthy to constantly be feeling like you’re at the bottom of the pile. Remember, this university lets people on based on how put-together they seem in an interview, so naturally we’re surrounded by people that are great at pretending that they’re put-together in every way. In reality, I bet that Union hack you wished you were earlier today is actually jealous of you, and how much fun you have doing jiujitsu. The grass is always greener on the other side, and Oxford students are really good at shouting about just how much greener their grass is than everyone else’s, even if it’s a bit brown in reality. So, don’t worry. Nobody else knows what they’re going to do with their lives either.