University was the best four years of my life (so far), and in my final month I kept thinking things along the lines of, “Yes, the world is my oyster, I can do whatever I want now with no education to worry about!”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The life of a twenty-something in the first year after university isn’t all roses.
I know, there’s plenty of people that I graduated with who are loving life, in brilliant jobs and completely sorted, but it’s not like that for everyone. To start this off I should probably say that a few nights ago my Mum told me, “The year I was twenty-two was the toughest year of my life.”
Wow. Thanks, Mum.
(She wasn’t trying to drag me down, don’t worry, just letting me know that I’m not alone.)
I spend a lot of time on Facebook these days, something most of my friends will probably have noticed, and I spend a lot of time comparing myself to my friends who are travelling, or in good jobs, or who’ve recently gotten married or engaged, and I end up angry and upset with God, because I feel like I’ve been handed a pretty raw deal. It’s the same as I scroll through my Spotify library, finding all the music that was the soundtrack to my university years, and even moreso as I flick through my photos from the past four years, of amazing times with my friends and of travelling in America during my summers.
Nothing really compares.
Paul Angone wrote a blog about this whole comparison issue that a lot of twenty-somethings have; he likes to call it OCD: Obsessive Comparison Disorder. Humans do this a lot, but twenty-somethings do it more than anyone, especially those of us who aren’t making tonnes of money and getting married as soon as we graduate. It’s easy to compare ourselves with other people, other times in our lives, and think that the grass is always greener on the other side, but it’s far harder, and far more important, to look at our own lives and figure out where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.
We find ourselves trying to figure out how the people we want to be like have gained success and wonder if we could do it too, even if that success isn’t necessarily the kind of success we really want. Sometime the only thing that the lives of others would bring us is temporary happiness, like when I find myself wondering if I should take up booze and partying again to get a bit more excitement in my life. That’s when I know I need to take a step back and realise that the life I’ve chosen and the life I want are going to take more than an evening to figure out, and that if I really want to get any where then I need to be in this for the long haul.
Life after university is hard for a lot of people, but knowing that we’re not alone should at least help us to feel a little bit better. There’s something better out there, we just need to figure out what that is.