Friday, 3 November 2017

Post-University Depression

From student life to no life. That’s how graduating feels. You’ve been away from home for the last few years and suddenly you’re unemployed, living back at home and haven’t seen your friends for two months.

I was optimistic at the beginning. My boyfriend is also a graduate and I was certain it wouldn’t take him long to find a grad role so that I could find a job in the same location and we could move out together to start our new adult life. Four months later and I’m still sleeping in a single bed and working a retail job to pay my way. When my boyfriend comes to visit, he sleeps on an air mattress on the floor which is nearly as old as the two of us put together.

Having a mix of friends who are still studying or have already found grad jobs just makes things even more confusing. It’s easy to feel left behind, especially when my irregular shift patterns and lack of money means having to turn down every party invite. Uni meant always having someone around to hang out with. Living back at home means that my two best friends are my cats.

Illustration by Ellie Wilkinson

As I begin my search for permanent work in the creative industries to replace my retail job, the negative thought patterns kick in. I start to question my abilities, my choice of degree, my self worth. I wonder if I’m being picky by applying only for creative jobs; should I be trying for graduate roles in other sectors? Fortunately, my retail job is a constant reminder that my 9-5 job must be something I want to get out of bed for (and that I need weekends off if I ever want to see any of my friends ever again).

The biggest set back is definitely the lack of responses and lack of feedback from employers. Personally I think my CV is pretty damn good. I've got good grades, a decent portfolio, some work experience, tons of volunteering. My university tutors were impressed. So why aren't employers snapping me up? Suddenly all of the hard work you put in over the last few years feels like it was for nothing as you realise just how much competition there is. It feels like there will always be someone better than you.

As a creative these feelings can be especially crippling. If I'm not good enough, then neither is my work and if my work is not good enough, then neither am I. When it comes to producing new work, I've found myself questioning my style, wondering how I will ever make any work which is good enough again and ultimately unable to create. Having never been out of education before, I suddenly have no advice or confirmation that what I'm making is OK and my inner critic takes charge. Followers of my Instagram might have noticed the silence on my account recently; I withdrew because I feel anxious about my work.

Being at home means plenty of time to reflect on everything that hasn't gone to plan since graduating with little to distract my mind from this. It means a lot of time spent on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram seeing other people getting amazing commissions or being able to afford holidays and houses and living the life that still feels forever away. Not to mention the brief chats I do get with friends or family having to explain that I still haven't found a job or moved out yet. Everything seems to be a constant reminder that I'm failing.

Of course, deep down I know that my plans will start to come together soon. I know that my feelings of failure are manifested from a cycle of negative thinking. But for now the uncertainty of what is to come will continue to be the root of my anxiety.

_____

If you’re in a similar situation, remember that:

Comparing yourself will get you nowhere.

Things will settle down soon.

You just got a degree. That’s pretty amazing.


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1 comment

  1. So I wrote a reply to this post but when the commenting system tried to log me in an error popped up and it disappeared, ugh.

    Long story short: You're definitely not alone in these feelings. I feel like we're told growing up that if you go to school and do x y and z you'll have a successful life. But then you do those things and go out into the world and... you wait. It's so frustrating. Add in mental health issues and you can't help but just turn inwards to blame yourself. But I think those notes you post at the end are so important. Be proud of what you've done and remember that every person's path is different. We'll get there one way or another.

    Also, I don't know if you still plan on posting, but I love illustrated blogs and enjoy your posts so you'll have a reader here if you do. Take care x

    Asti || atypicalnarrative.com

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