This week I graduated.
University has been a hell of a roller-coaster ride for me, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a second of it. Three years ago, when everybody under the sun told me that uni would change my life, I thought they were exaggerating. It’s just uni, right? It’ll be exactly the same as school and college – surely it can’t be that transformative?!
I think you can guess by now that I was completely wrong.
When I enrolled at The University of Manchester in 2013, it was like I had propelled myself in a new and wonderfully exciting direction. For the first time in my life I was living away from home (albeit only only 20 minutes away…don’t judge, I’m a family girl!), I was making emotional and financial decisions for myself and, perhaps most importantly, I was facing the big bad world as an adult. Looking back on those first few weeks of university makes me almost envy the person I was back then – and not only because I was three stone lighter! As grown-up as I believed I was, it’s clear to me now that I possessed the kind of naivety that only disappears as you progress into adulthood.
At 18 years old, I thought I had been in love, had my heart broken, experienced the trials of real friendship. At 21, I know better. To reflect on what I once believed was ‘love’ and ‘heartbreak’ is almost amusing: I learned the real meaning of those terms at university. As for friendship? I now believe it takes the test of distance, emotional turbulence and sheer, unadulterated trust before you can be comfortable in the knowledge that a person is truly the definition of a friend. I’m lucky enough to know many people who fit that description.
But here I am. It’s July 2016 and I have just completed the age-old ritual of throwing a weird square hat up in the air and failing to catch it. I’m a graduate! And I’m oh-so excited to start the newest chapter of my life.
I’m not going to lie to you, the first day after university finishes you’re in the highest of spirits (and, if you’re anything like me, nursing a killer hangover). But the next day, reality hits you…
What the hell do I do now?!
I can’t honestly tell you that I’ve figured all that out just yet, but the one thing I’m certain of is that I’m determined to take on the challenge of life in my own unique way. I know what my passions are and I resolve to keep them alive, whatever career path eventually takes my fancy.
Perhaps the greatest lesson that my years as a student taught me was not to take the little things in life for granted. It’s important to stop sometimes and appreciate all the special moments that you’re currently experiencing because, who knows, you might never get the opportunity to do them again.
Now is the time for the ‘new’ and for ‘firsts’. My first day as a graduate. A new beginning.