It’s officially a year since I packed up my cosy student room in York, crammed it into my Mini and entered the real, adult world.
I had no job, no income, and no plans bar a handful of fun things with friends and family that was only going to drain the last dregs of my money.
The post high from uni doesn’t last long; you’re uncertain what’s going to happen next, you dread to look at your bank balance and you’ve moved further away from the dreamy people you saw every single day.
It’s an adjustment to say the least.
The first month or so after leaving your university can feel pretty lonely, but it passes. I felt that way and wrote a post about it last June, but thankfully within another month everything turned around; I got two jobs as a Features Editor and a Drama/Singing Teacher, and a place on a masters.
I had income, would live at home, save money, get paid to write (which is the end goal anyway), would get a masters, and have the foundations of an adult life. It all came together very quickly, that I sometimes forget how bleak finishing uni with no direction was.
Fast forward a year and so much has changed; I’ve learnt a lot about real life, why nobody our age can afford housing, journalism, how to stretch 14 holiday days across a year, publishing, relationships, saving, creative writing, bills, and writing for TV.
I’m at the same job, but working on a different publication now; I’m Editor of Architecture Magazine, and my colourful little baby came out into the world a few weeks ago. It’s exciting to be in charge of a magazine, and one that celebrates creativity and innovative designers, but it still feels very surreal.
The most shocking part of the past year though has been working with a production company on a TV series pitch. I would never have in a million years thought that would realistically happen. Yet, I did have it down on my list of things to achieve this year… I just thought I’d be the only person reading it.
Working with the team and attending their events has been a massive insight into the industry, and I’ve learnt so much from them all and each meeting, draft and swanky event.
Quite a different position to last year! But here’s some things I’d go back and tell myself and tell anyone going through that time.
Say yes to things.
I think this is important in life in general, if you’re invited to events (professional or personal), last minute plans, even a pizza round your friends, say yes. By saying yes and going there’s many possible outcomes, by saying no, there’s only one. I took this approach and ended the summer with two jobs, a place on an MA and a date. It was a busy time, but so worth it!
Make things happen for yourself
If you want to go to a concert ask people and go, or book it and ask them after! If you want to be a writer, then you have to be writing and getting your writing out there; no one else can read it from your laptop. I knew I wanted to write for a living as I just paid £27K for the privilege, so I applied for masters courses in Creative Writing, and I continued to write on my blog. I am always torn about whether I should bother with my blog, but then a production company emailed me after reading one of my posts and wanted to work together. You never know who is reading, or watching your platforms or social accounts. At every interview I went to, the employer had read my blog, it was a portfolio of writing to assess before they’d interviewed me.
There’s no rush!
It is so hard not to get caught in the panic trap of what’s next and making quick decisions about your job, location, house. Take your time to figure things out, maybe get a flexible job over the summer to clock up some pay and then decide later what’s best for you. It’s tempting to organise everything quickly to get out of the state of uncertainty, but there’s no rush! I was desperate to find a job, and thankfully I did after a few months working at Starbucks. But I wish I’d taken more time to travel over the summer, as it becomes more difficult with a limited amount of holiday days. I’m still figuring out where to live, where to rent and that’s a year later! It’s next on the agenda though, having saved up enough and paid off my student overdraft.
Save when & where you can
Always have a slight buffer, it just means if a friend messages and asks you if you want to go to a concert, weekend away, night out, then you don’t have to turn them down simply because you’ve had a Deliveroo every Friday for the past month. Just have a small amount for any last min things, as trust me there will be plenty.
Apply for everything
I almost didn’t apply for the job I’m currently in as I thought the position of ‘Features Editor’ was quite far fetched; I was realistically never going to get it. I had an English degree, a blog, done a week’s work experience at the Daily Mail, I’d written some plays, and that was about it. I had no real professional experience, but I got an interview and got the job, and I’ve loved every minute of it. If a job seems slightly out of reach, apply for it anyway, just pick any jobs that interest you. Type a variety of words into Indeed or LinkedIn and you’ll find tons, then you can upload your CV and covering letter and apply in bulk, as you’ll probably only hear back from a handful.
Do what’s right for you
That might be moving home to figure things out, save some money or it might be moving to the other side of the world, teaching abroad, or working in a cafe for six months to fund several months of travelling. There’s no clear path, so don’t feel pressured to find one, just keep at it.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
It’s hard not to, we’re all guilty of it, but you cannot compare yourself to other people, end of.
Life is a crazy wonderful ride and everyone is going on lil unexpected turns and adventures; there is no direct path of comparison between you, so there is no need to try and find one.
No one has lived the live you’ve lived. I grew up in Peterborough, I had a good education, was incredibly inspired by my parents (both teachers), was close with my family, did a bunch of mad activities, tons of amdram, musical theatre, a couple of sprint triathlons, I lost my Dad at 16, I got my GCSEs & A-Levels, didn’t go out, got depression, then always went out, party party party, had a ball at uni, had depression in my first year of uni, developed anxiety, lost weight, gained weight, maintained weight, fundraised for Thorpe Hall, blogged for Sue Ryder, did a speech at St James’ Palace, opened the new TH hospice with the Duchess of Gloucester, started weight lifting, wrote plays, performed plays, directed plays, had CBT, spent time with my bonkers relatives, travelled with friends, road tripped the USA, fell out with friends, lost my Grandparents, moved to York, moved home, gained more family members, weddings, funerals, drank too much, ate too much, had a darn ass good time, had snotty hefty teary panics, and made myself laugh more times than I’d care to admit.
No one else is made up of the mad concoction of unexpected adventures that you are, so don’t compare yourself, don’t criticise yourself and damn well don’t stop being yourself.