A letter to my graduating self

Sunday, 1 July 2018

It’s that time of year again where social media feeds are flooded with photos of people in caps and gowns as students shed their student status and enter the next chapter of their lives. Many congratulations are in order to these survivors of dissertations, panic-fuelled exam revision, and instant noodle-rich diets. That was me two years ago (aside from the dissertation - it was optional on my course mwahaha). It's weird to think about. The weirdest part is that it feels like it’s been longer. But I was thinking about what I would say to my graduating self if I could go back in time. It would probably be along the lines of this:

Dear me,

Congratulations on your graduation! You made it. Also, you picked a great dress - we still love it and wear it two years on. Don’t forget to thank your friends and parents who helped you along the way. I know you will but make sure they know you would’ve had a terrible time without them.

So welcome to the real world. You’ll hate it at times, but in the same way you’ve hated the ‘smaller worlds’ you’ve inhabited before. Side note - you're beginning to feel the phrase ‘real world’ is redundant. There are billions of people on the planet living different experiences, none really more real than the other. Welcome to being a sort-of adult is probably more fitting for this occasion.

Let me get the shitty parts out of the way first. Two years after graduating, you’re still interning. Hilarious, right? What’s funnier is that you’ll go to interviews where you’ll be asked why you have so many internships and haven’t found a real job yet, and then they reject you for your ‘lack of experience’. It’ll be ok though, you need some things in life to teach you how to keep going when you feel like giving up. But don't be so picky with the jobs you apply to in the beginning okay?

You’ll realise more and more how your grades didn’t matter enough to stress over them as much as you did. Really, you’ll wish you spent more time doing things other than studying. Measured intelligence is pretty unimportant once you’re out of education, the only things baring much resemblance to achieving top grades being completing a cryptic crossword or a difficult sudoku. And you suck at both.

You change your mind a lot, which is really annoying. One month, you’ll be set on achieving something. Next month, it’ll be something different. The month after, all you’ll want to do is watch Netflix. This isn’t exactly a weakness though. You're willing to try a lot of things and you pick up new skills because of it. Learning is no longer a requirement since you’re out of mandatory education, but it’s something you should keep on doing. YouTube, your tutor since your teens in both maths and makeup, continues to teach you new skills. Find some online courses you might be interested in on FutureLearn or Skillshare or go along to real life classes. 

The best thing that's happened in these two years by far is that you're a lot more confident now. I wish I could bottle it up and give you some, but it just comes with time and experience. Here's some shortcuts though: make sure the way you talk to yourself in your head is how you'd talk to your friends. You'd never be so down on them, so why be like that to yourself? Also: not caring about what other people think. Easy to say, harder to do, but it's goldmine for confidence. Just know you're capable of so much, so don't be afraid to go for what you want.

Good days and bad days aren’t that clear cut. They tend to be a mix, often leaning more one way than the other. That's what most things in life are like really. Perfection is more of an unhelpful concept than a state of being, so it’s not something to aim for. You’ll realise success loses its shine when you look at it up close, too. In fact, you’ll be re-evaluating your idea of it all the time. I think it comes with the changing your mind a lot thing. You’ll also realise just how different everyone’s version of success is. Just enjoy the good moments and don't dwell too much on the bad. Keep thinking about what you want your future to look like and move in that general direction, even if it's unclear.

You got this.

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