Sonam on post-grad blues

18 Mar 2022
By Sonam P., Student at Aston University

With a blink of an eye, there goes three years of uni.

In exactly two months I will be graduating, moving out of my uni flat back to my hometown and residing in my childhood bedroom - which I will be re-arranging to ‘better suit’ my new life as a business graduate.

And I am okay with that.

Well, I was, until everyone around me started asking what my plans are after graduation. Now, living up to their expectations won’t stop playing on my mind.

One thing I’m sure of is that I don’t want to continue with further education. ‘What about taking a gap year?’ my friend, who seems to have a five-year plan sorted, asks me. I daydream about the trips I could take. Perhaps I can be a nomad in Norway, or Thailand, or become a backpacker in Brazil. Then I realise, as a recent graduate, it’s unlikely I will be able to afford it.

Another thing I feel sure of is what job I’d like, and that’s a data analyst role in finance, to be precise. However, the realisation that everything might not go to plan has sparked an avalanche of emotions, and I feel more anxious and worried than ever. I no longer have the fresh-faced enthusiasm of a soon-to-be graduate, or even the urge to browse smart office attire on ASOS - which I’d usually save in my favourites so that I can later purchase with my impressive graduate salary.

Post-graduate blues

It took me a little while to realise these feelings of indecision and anxiety are known as ‘post-graduate blues’ or ‘post-graduate depression’.

Post-graduate depression is not a medically recognised term but it’s a real experience for many students. Research by the City Mental Health Alliance found 49% of students felt their mental wellbeing declined after leaving university, and interestingly this data is based on the pre-pandemic world.

So, after speaking to other recent graduates, as well as considering my own experience, here are some factors to look out for that I believe can contribute to post-grad blues.

Job hunting

Soon enough, searching for a job becomes part of your daily routine, and the phrase ‘job hunting is a full-time job’ starts to ring true. The time you once spent hanging out with your friends has now become strictly dedicated to cover letters, CV writing, psychometric testing, and interview practice.

As the pressure of finding a job increases and you realise your graduate status is not necessarily enough to secure your dream job, it’s common for your mental health and sense of confidence to take a hit.

Comparisons

With 44% of recent graduates feeling that their friends are doing better than them*, you’re not alone if you find you’re comparing yourself to people around you. When you see others succeeding, particularly in positions you aspire to be in, it’s easy to feel low and inadequate.

Moving back home

Transitioning from living on your own and having full independence, to back under your parent’s rules can be tough. It can feel like you’ve taken a step backwards.

And what’s more, you’re no longer around your friends who you spent a lot of time with at uni, which can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Starting a new job

Perhaps you’ve found a job - if you have, congratulations!

However, since starting, you might have found that the excitement you had after securing your graduate role has worn off. Now you’re met with new challenges, like managing a work life balance, imposter syndrome, and feelings of the ‘9-5 grind’.

While embarking on your post-grad journey can be daunting, it’s also a time to embrace as a new, fresh chapter in your life. Try not to put pressure on yourself by feeling you have to have the next however many years planned out - just go with the flow and remember to keep your mental health in check. 

Both Mind and Young Minds are organisations you can reach out to if you’re struggling with post-grad depression.

*City Mental Health Alliance

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I’m a business management student nearing the end of my studies. Beside loving to write in my spare time, I enjoy traveling and exploring.