31st December 2017
So it’s New Years eve! Although for many this month is a time of year involving family get togethers, happiness, and appreciation, this time can appear and feel very different for a final year student. My thoughts have been consumed by anxiety about my future – I’ve been frantically researching graduate programmes, trying to sell myself, some of my applications not coming from my heart and others reflecting my passions and values in life. It hasn’t helped my anxiety – I’ve felt sick as a result, which isn’t great. My aim of this post isn’t to sugar coat or reassure 1st and 2nd year students (sorry!), it’s to provide a real and honest account of what it feels like for me to be in my final year at University.
It’s a time of great uncertainty in my life. Every day I’m getting closer and closer to my security net of my degree falling beneat my feet, after which I will be forced to face the real world and show the world what I’m made of. I know I can’t do a masters yet as I need to earn some money, but at the same time I want to do something worthwhile, not just a dead end job. I wish my dominant feelings were positive, but this has all been one big trigger for my mental health. I have low levels of confidence, I don’t feel that I stand out, I hate waiting, I can’t help feeling as though it’s inevitable that I will avoid and withdraw, even if I was successful. I recognise that this line of thinking is so negative, irrational, and impactful on how I feel about myself and my future. It really is something I need to be more mindful about.
I feel as though I’m regressing.
Although in some respects I have been proactive, I feel that I don’t feel as motivated about my Uni results this year. I place high expectations of myself but rather than striving to improve, I’m just eager to get the latest assignment done and I just want the year to be over. You’d think it would be the opposite – it’s final year which is a year that really counts, and although I’m not getting bad results, I can feel that my attitude has changed which I think is understandable but it’s equally something to bear in mind. It’s christmas and I feel the most relaxed and laid back about my revision than ever before, despite not feeling fully prepared for atleast one of the exams. I suppose it can be a really good thing, but again, it’s a gentle reminder for myself to be more mindful. I think I’ve regressed slightly because I’ve been more preoccupied about being a graduate and filling in applications, too.
I’m becoming “pickier” about opportunities and I’m understanding my needs better.
I’m no longer open to anything. I’m no longer diving in to things without thinking about the repercussions and whether it’s right for me. I’m being more realistic about my mental health, and that simply doing it isn’t always enough and sometimes I need to think about what could help. I applied for an internship for the summer called Change 100 which is under Charity Works and is for graduates with long term disabilities (including mental health conditions) and provides encouragement and support with disclosing your disablities to your company and asking for more support. Before, I never thought that would be an option – I always thought I’d be expected to just get my head down and work like everyone else. The only thing I struggle with is that you’re expected to know what adjustments you need to be supported. I suppose it’s easier when it’s physical because there is a clear answer, but with mental health it’s more complicated. I applied for a programme in retail the other day and really could feel that it wasn’t from my heart because it isn’t the sector for me, and I am learning to be realistic about whether it would be too triggering, rather than falling for the applications which try and paint the opportunity as something that will change your life.
Those are the main things I’ve noticed so far. There are so many spiralling thoughts, worries and concerns that I’m having and it is so overwhelming. I really don’t know where I’ll end up but I do hope that eventually I will be able to adjust to the workplace and cope with everyday challenges and obstacles that I’ll have to face.
Here’s to hoping for a good year, with good mental health during change.
I completely agree about physical health issues being easier to admit to than mental ones. I haven’t asked for any adjustments at work because it’s difficult to know what to ask for – both what would be helpful and what would be reasonable. In my previous job, when the depression was worse in some ways, I was on flexible hours, which essentially meant that I was being paid like I was freelance: I would turn up when I could, for as long as I could and get paid for what I did. That was good in some ways, but bad in others (it got me out of the habit of regular work, even beyond the fact that I was only under contract for a maximum of nine hours a week anyway and it did create some bad feeling with my employers).
You sound like you’re doing better than I was in my final year of my undergraduate degree. I was very depressed and hardly working at all; I’m still not sure how I managed to get through my finals.
Good luck with whatever you decide and have a good new year!
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