Graduation Blues: Dealing with Post-Uni Depression

When faced with a panic attack before an exam, I would close my eyes and picture myself on graduation day. Finally, my turn to wear the black gown and purple hood. I’d walk across the stage and be handed the degree that I worked so hard for. My mom and dad would tell me how proud they are, and we would laugh and cry as we squinted from the sun to take a photo. Some days, that seemed a million years away. In which case, life after graduation was barely a concern. I figured sure, it’ll be tough to find a job right away, but I’ll get one. I’m getting an honors degree from a quality university after all. 

Fast-forward to graduation: It rained. Not exactly how I had pictured that day for four years. Lesson learned, not everything goes as planned and that’s okay. Even though I didn’t get the beautiful bright sunny day photos on UC hill (the photo everyone takes on graduation at Western University- Seriously, everyone. Even my grandparents have photos on UC hill as seen below) It still felt amazing to finally hold the most expensive piece of paper and everything I worked so hard for in my hand. I felt like I could take on the world. 

The first few months after graduation, I decided to relax and prepare for the post-grad program I would take at George Brown College in the fall. Second lesson learned: Your life won’t follow a single perfect path. I thought everyone created a pathway in their brain, set out to complete it and that was it. For example, a doctor would take science classes in high school, medical science in their undergrad, go to med school, and then become a doctor. For me, I would graduate university with my business degree, go to college for fashion management, get a business-fashion job, and begin my long and successful career.  Everything got flipped around when I was two months in and absolutely hated the program. This is when I was faced with my first major adult decision: Do I tough it out? Or, do I cut my loses while I’m a head. 

I’m not a quitter, I don’t give up when the going gets tough. The decision to withdraw from the program came down to lesson three: If something won’t positively impact your future or contribute to your happiness- drop it. It’s a waste of time to put so much energy into sticking something out that you’re not happy with. Whether that’s a school program, a job, or a personal project. Put your energy into things that you truly believe in. Something that will excite you and not feel like a chore. If your undergrad major didn’t bring you happiness, its not too late to try something new. 

The face of an optimistc girl who thinks shes knows exactly how her life is going to end up. Guess again, Em!

I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to prove my intelligence. I was worried that classmates would assume the course was too hard for me and I wasn’t smart enough to complete it. That’s when I was forced to realize lesson four: what other people think of your life decisions is irrelevant.You have to live according to your own desires and not how other people may perceive you. If I had decided to stay in school, it would have only been in attempt to prove to my peers I wasn’t a quitter and in no way would have been for myself. How insane does that sound? 

The day I walked out of that school for the last time, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Which was cool for about a week. Then, it was replaced with a heavier one. What do I do now? Well, I guess I look for a new job? Here comes lesson five: There are an infinite number of paths your life may follow. Don’t get hung up on picking the “right” one.Guess what? There isn’t a right or perfect path. I’m still grappling with this lesson. I got a job as a customer service representative at a Bank. It’s a great job for now and a good stepping stone if I decide to pursue a career in the banking industry. But I’ve also entertained the idea of going back to school or continuing to apply to degree-related jobs/internships. I’ve been stuck on the idea that only one of these paths will lead me to a successful and fulfilling life. It’s a tough realization, but life doesn’t work like that. I could pick any of these paths and come out just as successful and happy as long as I truly enjoy what I’ve decided to do. 

I was incredibly optimistic about my future during my undergrad. The second that my life took an unexpected turn, I had no idea how to handle it. All of a sudden, I lost the hard-working, passionate, driven lady inside me. I would cry for no reason, stay in bed, watch Netflix all day. I tried to shift the blame- “I’m depressed because of my birth control.” “I’m depressed because of my job.”, “I’m depressed because I hate school.” Excuse after excuse, I let my past get the best of me. This is when I beefed up my resume and started applying to jobs. It’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t have to happen right away. I would limit my search to entry level positions and get down on myself reading the “required experience” section. Why didn’t I take a damn summer internship in my undergrad? Or get more involved in clubs? Lesson six: your past decisions will only affect your future achievements if you let them.So, just because I didn’t do a summer internship doesn’t mean I won’t ever land my dream job. It just means I have to find that experience elsewhere and work a little harder. 

This post has been pretty career-oriented, which brings me to lesson seven: If you orient your life around a job, every other part of your life will pay for it. The pressure and stress I felt to do well in school and to find a job led me to eat less, lose weight, and never see my friends. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a hobby or activity that will free your brain from career/school related stress. For example, I’ve started going to the gym, eating better, and reading (now that I don’t have to read boring textbooks, yay!). I’ve decided to tie lesson six and seven together by starting this blog. While it will provide an escape from my day job, I also hope to gain web experience out of it. Now, every blog advice page makes it pretty clear that you’re “suppose” to have a clear theme. Well, I have no idea what I want to write about on here. So, I hope all of you reading will come along and watch me make probably every blogging mistake possible! One thing I know is I would like to build a safe little community where people feel free to share their thoughts and ideas, relate to certain topics, ect. Feel free to leave a comment about how you’ve dealt with post-uni depression or if you’re still in uni- let me know what your plans are to prevent it. 

Thanks for reading my first post, be back soon! 

Em. 

2 thoughts on “Graduation Blues: Dealing with Post-Uni Depression

  1. This was such a great article! It made me tear up because it really hit close to home. This journey of figuring out life is really tough and exhausting, even unwilling at times. So let’s do it together.? Looking forward to more posts!

    1. It feels really good to know that you are not alone in these feelings. I’m so happy you could relate to the read, I hope others feel the same. I’m always here to listen and be a friend! :)❤️

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