Done! Degree ✓. Graduation ✓. Life ✗
This is it. This is the end of one era and the beginning of another. Library books returned, student ID expired. Council tax added to the bills. Bouquets dead, congratulations cards recycled. What's next? Oh hello, life!
I was postponing this post on purpose, to give myself some extra time to figure everything out. Three weeks in, I still have no idea what I’m doing and therefore no further delay can be excused.
I have a feeling that everybody’s experience of graduation is very similar and yet, it can be so different. Just like with my course, I was never satisfied with the ordinary. Instead, I was always seek something special. My life is a contradiction. Isn’t yours, too? It’s all about the point of view.
Life will be full of failures and we must learn how to deal with them in order to succeed.
I’ve finally graduated. I completed three (four, actually) years of university education and could throw my hat up in the air. I experienced the glory, I experienced the laughs, I walked the walk. For a couple of hours, I was the centre of attention. And then? It was over. The harsh reality kicked in.
Now, you are a graduate. Now, you are a taxpayer. Now, you have no escape unless you can afford it. Duties, duties, duties. Am I ready? Ha. Do I have a choice? Haha. Am I happy? Hahaha.
I was fortunate enough to land a freelance job three a few months before I graduated. This created some extra pressure during deadlines but allowed me to pick up some additional skills whilst still at university. Above all, it eliminated the pressure of having to find a job once I graduate (though I looked regardless but failed). Luckily, during the final ceremony the UAL Chancellor, Grayson Perry, reminded us that our life will be full of failures and we must learn how to deal with them in order to succeed.
Oh, artists! How I love our small, inclusive community. I am so proud to classify myself as one. Yes, my earnings are not shooting through the roof (quite the contrary, you guessed it!). I cannot wait to be completely independent of money and move on with life without having to rely on the stupid paycheck that hardly every comes regularly if you’re freelance (LINK). But hey, no regrets!
From now on, I will be finding ways. Ways to afford an apartment. Ways to afford a dog. Ways to afford entertainment, travel, arts. But my biggest achievement up to date in not completing a degree, it is the net of people around me. My friends, my family, my homes (two, to be precise). The tiny little bubble I choose to live in is more than any education could ever cover. Yet, it is the educational institutions that I have formed most of my relationships in, so the school does matter.
Without saying a word, we all know that we have something special, something money cannot buy.
I have my dad, I have my brother and sister-in-law, I have my best friends, I have my dog and two comfortable homes. These people are always there for me. I love them and they love me back. Without saying a word, we all know that we have something special, something money cannot buy. Happiness, you might call it. Yup, happiness it it!
Having qualified in the creative industries and working in the corporate world, my life couldn’t be more of a paradox. I love design, I chose to study the only design management course in the country, yet have been swollen by a money-making machine. Regardless of all this, I’m happy. I know that the people around me respect me, value me and appreciate me. They are my never-dying source of inspiration and courage. They are the ones who help me constantly move forward.
That is the biggest discovery I have made since graduating. It is not about the job title or the salary, it’s about the community you participate in. Surround yourself with people for whom you are more than an asset. And therefore, thank you for your congratulations. Yes, I am happy to have a sheet of paper labelled ‘smart cookie’. But it is not the smartest people in the world who are the richest. For me, only those who understand the value in people can live a truly rich life.
And so, what do I want to do after graduation? I want to lead a fulfilled life and believe that the people around me will enable me to make my wishes come true. After all, we are all a community and you are the average of the people you surround yourself with. Let's be the best version of them all!
Photo credit: Angi Wang