I am half excited, half petrified

Thoughts on Leaving University

In High School I always thought that people at University were so mature. So mature. University was this weird place that wasn’t as immature as high school, where things like what you wore or how you looked didn’t matter. Only the stuff in your brain did. I thought that University students knew what they were doing because I sure as hell had no idea what I wanted to do when I was in High School. I had a vague idea, but nothing specific, no set goals. Now here I sit. I’m living in the same halls of residence that I moved into in my First Year at Royal Holloway. But I’m not a First year, I have one term left and I’m already two weeks in. And I’m really scared.

I’ve always had stability and even when I haven’t I have always given off the air that I have my shit together. But in truth the last time I had everything together was when I received my A-Level results; A*, A, B. I was going to my first choice University  to study English, a subject I’ve done since 4 years old and also one I really loved. I knew what would lie ahead for the next few years.

In my second year of University I didn’t think about my future very much because it was still one year away. The horror stories about the job market were still in the distant future. Internships and work experience were just terms for offering your skills for free. Something which I have since done a few times. I thought that these things would tell me where I was supposed to go or what I was supposed to be doing. I thought I would have a ‘Eureka’ moment or a senior staff member would spot my hard work and promote me. Or I thought I would know when it’s time to apply for a job, for a Master’s, for anything that would lead me away from the institution I was at and into something new. But here I am. And, the thing is we’re all not sure.

My friends and I are applying for several things. We have our hands in so many buckets. Nowadays we can’t afford not to because the job market is so tough and we’re so out of practise with application forms. There’s not much help from University either, they hold you at an arms length. Only the Professor’s who are kind and who you know give their time. I’m so grateful to them because without them I would drown. But otherwise? There’s no UCAS supervisor. No Head of Year to read through your Personal Statement. You’re on your own.

I feel this pressure to know. What are you doing next year, Abigail? Have you applied for a job? Have you thought about doing _____? What kind of jobs can you do with English? I can’t answer these questions for you. Although I wish I could. I hear you spend your 20’s figuring out what you want to do and your 30’s doing it. So why are those people asking me what I want right now? Can’t you ask me in 10 years?

The truth is I’m scared shitless because for once I don’t have an answer. I am so used to being that person who has an answer for everything that is thrown at them and so now I feel utterly confused. But also kind of excited? It’s weird isn’t it that the scariest things can seem like a huge breath of fresh air? I don’t know where I’m going to be post-graduation in July. I could be living in London, still. Or I could move back home for a while. I could move to Paris– somewhere I’ve always wanted to live. I could find my dream job next week. Or I may not be able to find a job for months. I may say “fuck it” and fly to Bali and do a Yoga Teacher Training Course. Because that’s life.

Long story short. I need to stop myself when I feel scared. I need to turn the fact that I don’t know into a positive. Into an opportunity. I’m always scared when I face a blank canvas but hopefully when I finish it’ll look pretty fucking great.

If you went to university or are currently studying I would love to know how you felt when you were in my position/how you feel about Uni life currently!

  • Patricia Stelmach

    Hey! I know exactly how you feel. I graduated 2 years ago and I was super scared and depressed about leaving. But after all, it’s not really that bad. I think the built up to it is worse than what is actually is when it happens.

    Patricia Stelmach

    • I hope it’s not that bad! It’s just the unexpected that I don’t like!

  • It’s a perfectly common thing to be lost when you finish something – what’s next? That’s always the question, but it’s ok to not know the answer. The beauty in not knowing is that we can make it into anything! I moved from California to Texas a couple of months ago, needing to start all over, I didn’t know what to do with myself and my life – so I figured well, I’m at the bottom, so there’s nowhere else to go but up. I’ve decided that since I had nothing, I’d make use of my time and do what I love and make it my career. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but I know that it’ll be so very satisfying when I get to where I want to be. Sending you well wishes and good luck!

    The Crimson Cardigan

    • thanks so much for your comment Ashlynn, I hope I can find the motivation and direction to know what this huge change means for me. Good luck in Texas!