The Real World Is A Shock

Or, What I’ve Learned Since I Left Uni

You know the score: university is three years of faffing about, and then the real world is a shock. Well, I happily spent three years working hard and preparing myself for the real world – and then the real world was a shock.

Job applications are draining: page after page of ’employment history’ that I have to leave disappointingly blank. Qualifications boxes that aren’t big enough for my eleven GCSEs and six A and AS Levels. And then the dreaded ‘personal statement’ bit. What skills do I have? I’m pretty good at spotting grammatical errors, but I’m always wary to write this, in case there is a grammatical error in my application that I’ve somehow managed to miss. Why do I want this job? Apparently ‘so I can move out of my parents’ house some time in the next decade and pay my car insurance’ are not acceptable answers.

Job interviews are draining: not least making sure my ‘interview blouse’ is ironed. There’s the mock interviews with my parents and boyfriend, all of whom are very good at asking me where I see myself in five years time when I least expect it and so don’t have a good answer. I have attended six interviews since finishing uni, and every single one has been worse than the previous. I am not getting better at interviews, like everyone said I would. After every rejection email I feel more and more discouraged. It is not spurring me on to achieve more. It makes me want to hide away in bed forever.

And the feedback from interviews! It’s always so positive. I don’t understand. How can you possibly only have good things to say about me? And yet here I am, jobless.

Seeing people, well-meaning family members and such, is draining: every time I am asked ‘how’s the job hunt going?’ (and I am asked this at least twelve times a week) I just want to curl up and cry. I wish people would just let me get on with it – I’ll let you know when it’s going well, because that will be when I actually want to talk about it.

The worst thing about leaving university and trying to navigate the job market, however, is being the only one doing it. Of my handful of close friends, one succeeded in getting an offer of her dream job from her first interview (and I am incredibly proud of her). Every single other person I would consider a close friend is still at university, furthering their further education even further. And because I am, quite frankly, an awful person, I managed to lose contact with all but one person from my home town after high school – graduate life is incredibly lonely.

It was almost reassuring when, earlier today, Google informed me that Graduate Depression was a Real Thing, and I was far from alone in feeling low about my future prospects. Slightly energised by my discovery that, actually, most graduates are depressed and lonely, I made plans: two volunteering opportunities presented themselves to me in quick succession, so hopefully by the end of the week I will not be sitting alone in the house all day. Gaining some experience, even if it’s unpaid, will, in theory, compliment my qualifications so that future applications and interviews are not so draining. I may also revisit some hobbies that I have ignore while at uni – I’m pretty sure I can crochet as many bobble hats as I have friends by Christmas…


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