This morning I handed in my last university assignment, which means I’ve finished my undergraduate degree. Three and a half years of hard work, and thousands of dollars went into getting me here. So I should feel proud. I should be celebrating this achievement. Right?
Don’t get me wrong: I do feel proud that I made it here. Most of all I’m proud that I persevered through all those times I felt like giving up, and stuck it through to the end. I feel like I’ve achieved something, at least, but why do I feel confused about exactly what that is? Why do I not really feel like celebrating at all?
I’m on the cusp of entering the real world. Now that I have my Bachelor’s degree, in theory I will get a job that I am qualified for and that I really like, I’ll work hard and apply the skills I learned in uni, I’ll progress through the ranks until I reach a place where I’m fulfilled, well-paid and happy with how things turned out. Already for the past few months, I’ve had people asking me, ‘What’s next? Where do you want to work? What are you going to do?’
These kinds of questions make me feel incredibly stressed out. And that’s not because I don’t have the answers. I figured out a while ago what I want to do, what my dream job is, but I’m incredibly reluctant to tell people because I’m afraid they’ll laugh in my face. There’s this niggling voice in the back of my head telling me I’m not going to make it.
Why? Well, because the reality is that there are thousands of other mes out there: young adults in their twenties who are just as qualified as I am for any of the jobs I will be looking at over the next few weeks or even months. Why should any potential employer hire me over any of the other people with identical qualifications, visions and generic goals of making a difference? What makes me special?
I’ve yet to master the skills involved in selling myself, but I do know that I have a few pretty valuable skills. I know I am an excellent writer, a good researcher and critical thinker; I know I have a solid work ethic and see the value in doing more than just the bare minimum. I’ve learnt how to pick my battles and how to manage my time. I take pride in my appearance and the presentation of the work I produce. I have a fresh young mind and a thirst for learning and specific changes I want to see happening in the area of work I’m interested in pursuing.
If I want to get there I’m going to have to swallow the shyness and modesty that have followed me through my life. If I want to convince potential employers that I’m worth hiring and that I deserve the job, I have to believe those things myself.
But before I do anything else, I’m going to take a well-deserved break. Because I’m not an idiot. Because I value my physical and mental well-being. And because uni drains your soul and if I want to give myself my best shot in jobhunting and interview situations, the first thing I’ve got to do is recharge my batteries. So that when I do get out there, I’m fresh and energised and enthusiastic, which would make me a much better candidate than the jaded, cynical husk of a human I am right now.