The Ideal Graduate Doesn’t Exist

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Do you remember what made you decide to go to university? Maybe it was because you really loved a subject and wasn’t quite done with it yet. Maybe it was because your family members or friends had gone and you decided that it was probably a good idea. Maybe it was because you were told that going to university was going to give you a boost, it was going to get you a job.

I’ll bet that most of us link to one of the three reasons, for me it was making me employable. I wanted to work hard, get the best grades and get a great job. I learnt from my parents that working hard and having your own money was important. I’d had a job since I was 16 and after a teacher insisted I look, my eyes widened with how much more you could earn just by getting a degree, it was a no-brainer, right?

So, here I am almost a year after graduating with a 2:1 degree and I’m not a top notch career woman yet, who knew? I’m currently temping in an office while friends of mine are working in retail, restaurants or anywhere they can get a job. All of us are asked what we’re going to do with our degrees or about career plans. The thing is just because you have a degree doesn’t mean that you’re failing because you’re not a hot shot at 22, something which can be a harsh reality.

There’s an illusion of the ‘perfect graduate’, something that isn’t real, usually, this person would have their own flat, a decent paying job that they love, flawless references, society activist. Overall, they are meant to have their shit together. Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve never met that person, I’ve never met them, so why was I striving to be that? No one in my family or loved ones had ever put that on me so where did it come from?

I could blame advertising, I could blame media or Social Media but I’m not going to waste time on that. We need to be kind to each other but more than anything we need, to be honest. Am I guilty of trying to make my Instagram feed look better my life picture perfect? Of course, I am. Am I guilty of comparing myself to others and wondering what I should be doing with my life? 100%.

I hope that if you’re reading this and have been feeling overwhelmed like me that this has helped.

What have you realised after graduating? Let me know in the comments below.

Why I’m Not Studying a Postgrad Degree

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A year ago I truly believed that I would be preparing for Fresher’s week again, with a stack of new stationary and pre prepared novels read. Instead I am sitting back in Basingstoke, curled up on the sofa, fairly relaxed with a to do list for work tomorrow. I’ve spent the summer earning money and reading whatever I like. I never thought I’d be so happy to be working, but I’m finally finding a rhythm for myself. That said, many people wouldn’t believe me when I said I was happy, because all I spoke about, wrote about, breathed about was becoming an Academic, so what changed?

Third year made me realise that I needed a break. I worked myself half to insanity, I was in hospital because I was so stressed and probably spent more time in tears than I did happy in my third year. I’m not saying all third years will fare this way but dealing with the recovery of my spine, depression and other personal issues on top of the pressure I put on myself to get a first made me very ill. On top of that, I realised that part of my decision to continue study was through fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not knowing who I was outside of education. I’d always been the smart girl, I had always been the hard worker and over achiever, hence why my mental health struggled when my grades didn’t come back as constant firsts, as they had before. I saw myself in Plath, when she wrote of her struggles with what she should do, should she chase education, something she knew she could do?

In short, I didn’t carry on studying because I need a break. I realised that most of my ambitions were based on a false security. Education was safe for me, something I could do. I could work hard and be good. I’d stay in the library late, I’d keep winning prizes and scholarships and then I’d be an academic. I was scared to step out of that box I’d been in since I was 4 years old. And now, after speaking to countless other new graduates, I see that I wasn’t the only one and so many have gone into masters programmes after saying they don’t know what else to do.

This doesn’t mean I won’t go back and study later on. I still have a passion for literature, I’m still interested in looking at Gender, Sexuality, about the impact of literature on young people’s lives, about Mental Health in post WW1 literature.  I still have a passion for it and I still read things about these issues. BUT! Now I have another passion, something I love and want to get into. I love my job and the more I get into it, the more I feel like a masters isn’t something I need, it’s something I might do at some point. I’ve moved on though, I no longer feel trapped by being the ‘smart girl’. I have people around me in a job that value my opinions without me having to be the ‘know it all’, because I’m not stupid I know that there were occasions people spoke to me because they thought I had the answers. I finally feel that my self worth is tied to more than grades.

Of course this is all personal, this is all how I feel right now. In a year it might change, I might save and go back part time but it’s good for me to get away from feeling like a number and someone’s opinion defines me.  I’m not doing a masters because I needed a break, I needed to grow on my own and I’m enjoying it.

Looking back at University -I’m a Graduate!

On Thursday 21st of July my journey as a student came to an end. Yes after 3 long years I am now officially a graduate of Kingston University, Chloe Metzger BA Hons. I’m going to try and keep this blog short, because I feel like I could write a book on this chapter of my life alone. I went from a girl who was terrified of leaving home, to a young independent woman. I’ve gone through more than I thought I could enjoy and have had experiences that I never thought I would but I’m so pleased I went to university, I found out who I was.

The past 3 years have been overwhelming such amazing highs and very tough lows. I’m nothing like the girl who started, who was so anxious the thought of getting on a bus nearly sent her into a panic attack, now I’ll travel around London for work. I’ve met the Chancellor and had a good few chats with her. I started this blog, interviewed by various people, made friends, started a band, played all over London and the South East and released 4 singles. I’ve watched countless bands and artists and met some of my absolute heroes. I’ve also met authors, celebrities and inspiring people. I’ve won awards, became a society president, got firsts and two ones, become a Student Ambassador and in charge of social media. I’ve given talks on mental health and found my voice as well as a way to use my past to create a better future.

Of course there were tough times too the homesickness, the really tough times with my depression when I wouldn’t leave my flat or be around people for days on end, friendship breakdowns, breaking my spine and not getting some of the grades I wanted. Originally I didn’t post that I got a 2:1 for my degree because I wasn embarrassed. My goal from the first year was to get a first class degree and I missed it by 3.5%. I cried, a lot, I was full of self loathing, how could I not get that extra 3.5%? Then I spoke to a friend, someone who chose to love me rather than being Ali or my family who were proud whatever, who told me not many people can recover from a broken spine and be in hospital for IBS and still come out so close to a first. It made me feel a lot better. I put this pressure on myself and it’s one of my flaws. I wanted to tell you all that because university comes with the good and the bad.

My future has completely changed from that I thought it would be before I went to uni, hell it’s different from what I thought it would be a year ago, but I’m happy. I’m happier sitting writing this than I have been in months, because third year was hard. It wasn’t just the workload, but my personal life. If I’m honest I’m surprised I made it through. I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting but I want  to be truthful to let others know that even when life gets so tough that you don’t know how you’re going to keep going, you can.  I haven’t you the space to write everything I loved about studying at university, but I did. I’ve got some incredible friends and memories from my time at KU and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I ever made.

So thank’s Kingston, you were great!

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I don’t know what I’m doing

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I took myself off the blog for the last few days for a combination of things, I’ve been busy, my backs been keeping up at night and I’ve been freaking out more than a little bit. So I spent my time with family, at work, sleeping and occasionally having an almost panic attack.

I had a conversation with my Mum last night and just ended up saying ‘you know what I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, I have no idea what to do when I graduate, I just really don’t know’. Honestly that is how I feel right now but my Mum, being the babe she is just said to me ‘You know what Chlo, no one knows what they’re doing, just do what you want to do’ and there it was. It’s something so simple but something that we all forget.

I don’t think that anyone’s job choices will make everyone happy. Some people will make choices based on what other people want and then make themselves happy and to be honest no one really gives a shit. You get a job, you make people proud, blah blah blah, but no one else has to go to the job every day, has to work with the people in it and to you know earn a living and possibly do it until they die.

Does any of this mean that I understand what to do with my life? Of course not I still get stressed out all the bloody time. Will I get a good class degree? Do I go and do a grad scheme I like the look of? Do I go all in and just do my PhD and worry about money later? Do I just go and get a job straight away? Part of me just wants to go please someone give me a crystal bloody ball so I know what should happen!

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’m guessing that there are a lot of people who just freak out sometimes and don’t know what’s going on or what they should do or if they’re even doing the right thing right now. I don’t think it’s specific this fear and uncertainty can impact anyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class etc. Who knows maybe everyone else is just pretending very well.

Education is a gift like no other

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I don’t always know what to write about. This evening was like that, a blank screen in front of me and searching for some kind of inspiration. People have asked me today how I can blog every day, how I stay motivated. I don’t really know, I suppose it’s just something I’m really proud of and it’s fun for me. I’d love to make a career out of this, but it’s not the sole reason I write it.

I spent today at work with a bunch of great students. They’re only two to three years younger than me but we’re kind of mentoring them as they apply for university and help answer any of their questions. I sat in on two taster sessions today, one for Media and another for Criminology, two subjects I’d never encountered before. I watched the lecturers and heard their passion for the subject and it inspired me. I’ve been getting more and more passionate about becoming a lecturer lately. People give me a list of reason not to do it; it’s too expensive, you haven’t lived yet, can you earn enough from it, what do you have to teach. There’s this fierce passion in me and from simply watching the impact the lecturers had on young people it reminded me why I want to study until I’m 25.

There is nothing in my decision about being scared about going into the ‘real world’. I want the challenge, the stimulation, the creativity that being an academic in Literature brings. I can still do other things, I can write books, still do social media. It’s not something I see as preventing me from doing anything, instead I see it as opening more doors than ever. It’s true what they say, education is the best gift of all, no one can take it away from you.

I wanted to write this to remind myself when I’m having a tough time with my dissertation this year or when I feel like giving up later on. I want to remember this excitement and happiness at the thought of studying and exploring literature. I’m a geek and I’m proud.

Image from http://www.girlsgonesporty.com/articles/fitness/using-we-heart-it-to-maximize-fitness-inspiration/

Not one, but two!

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I’m going to be super happy and shout from the roof tops and I think I’m allowed to! Guess who won today at the English Literature awards!!!!!!!!! I’m so happy, being recognised for Academic Contribution and winning is more than I could have ever hoped for at uni, it’s far beyond anything I would have expected. I’m so excited by this and to top it off I was commended for the Best Overall Achiever award! I am really pleased that another girl, Daisy won though, she’s amazing in lectures and would make a great teacher.

My Mum, Sister and Ali came with me today, it was so nice just to have them there on such a big occasion to me. Here’s to the next 2 (or hopefully 3!) years at Kingston.