'I've been studying all my life, what do I do now?'
It's that point of the year when most students have completed their degrees and gotten their certificates. What next? It can be one of the most troubling periods of time because it seems like the whole world is in front of you, waiting for you to make a decision on what you want to do for the next 50 years of your life. I experienced post-graduate depression last year. My dissertation had been submitted in May, and although I had been offered a place for a PGCE (Teacher-training programme), I wasn't sure if this was really what I wanted or whether I was doing it just because everybody else on my course was.
I felt absolutely clueless. All of my uni classmates were so happy and motivated to begin their PGCE year, whilst I was questioning my whole life and why I wasn't happy just like them. I knew deep down that I didn't want to go into teaching, but then I had no idea what else I wanted to do! Everyday, I'd sit and brainstorm about what I could possibly do with a degree in Philosophy & Religious Studies, and at the time, I couldn't think of much except for teaching. I guess this is when the period of depression hit in, because not only did I feel useless, but also as if I would never get anywhere in life, whilst my friends would have stable careers - these were daily thoughts. I became distant from some university friends, and I guess part of the reason was that I just didn't feel good enough or successful enough compared to them, which is something I regret doing.
After questioning myself being a teacher for months on end, I finally took the step to withdraw my offer, after a final awakening that it really wasn't what I envisioned myself doing for the rest of my life, or even for a few years. My depression didn't just end as soon as I withdrew my offer, but it continued on as I got so much slack from some individuals in my life to continue on with a PGCE, because, and I quote, 'what else will you do?'. Comments like this broke my heart, and made me feel worse than I already felt, but I stayed strong because I knew that better things were coming for me. I was sure of it. Graduation day came and although I was smiling in all of the photographs, internally, I was just so unhappy for the whole day, so much that I didn't even want to attend. I was looking around the whole day at my classmates, most of whom were continuing on with teacher-training programmes, whilst there was me, a confused, depression person who as always, didn't know what to do. I was on edge and nothing made me feel better. It finally ended and I was able to continue planning for the next few weeks - I knew what I didn't want to do, but I just didn't know what I wanted to do.
At the end of the summer, I decided to apply for a Masters degree in a subject that I was deeply interested in, without thinking of possible career prospects or how it would help me, but instead, I lived in the present and knew I wanted to do a Masters degree in that moment so I went for it. I can say now, as I'm nearing the end of it, that I do not regret withdrawing from my PGCE and applying for a Masters instead, because I've learnt so much about myself in this past year that I may not have learnt if I had gone down the PGCE route. I set up this blog in the meantime and am slowly living out my dreams of becoming a mental health advocate, who can help people who are struggling in order to be their best possible self. Opportunities are endless, no matter what your qualifications are, you just need to listen to yourself.
I'd like to leave you with a few thoughts:
If you're confused about the future, know that you're not alone and that it's rare for somebody to be 100% sure of anything.
If your gut is telling you that something is just not for you, listen to it!
It's also okay to not know what the hell you're doing too! Taking a break might just give you the best ideas and help you discover your true passions :)
Don't think that you must settle on just one 'career' because you have endless talents and opportunities on this Earth, so why spend half of your life in one job?
I hope this blog post helps anybody who is maybe in the same boat that I was in last summer. Just know that it's brighter on the other side, and you WILL get there, I promise! Do not compare yourself to others, and try not to get affected by the comments/advice of family and friends, because only you know what you want and what is best for you.
Stay safe and take care.