Freedom. Now what?

After three years of blissful existence at university, Lauren Cope can't quite get her head around the real world

Back when I started revising for my finals, I, along with all students, dreamt of my post-exam freedom. I envisaged myself reading books that weren’t on a suggested reading list, going to the gym every day, whipping up wonderful recipes and becoming a better version of myself. Alas, it didn’t go quite to plan.

I’ve spent the last month since my final exam doing, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, naff all. I think I went to the gym, maybe, once? The first Game of Thrones book has patiently waited on my bedside cabinet to no avail, and I’m still as unsure where my life is going as I was a month ago. I have, however, become incredibly good friends with my bed, the vendors listed on Just Eat and the nice folks at the corner shop. Now, instead of thriving off my imagined joyous freedom, I’m faced with moving back home.

No matter how many times I tell myself that I was lucky to go to university and that I’ve lived a wonderfully lazy lifestyle for three years, it doesn’t manage to ease my concerns about leaving. Whether I like it or not, I’ve fallen firmly into 'the gap' - the transitional period between being a student and, I suppose, just being unemployed. While I’m grabbing, as tightly as I can, to the thought of graduation this month, as I’m technically still in education until then, my student card expired in May and I don’t even have access to my university library (tragic). I think it’s time to admit it’s over.

It might have only been a month and a bit, but I’ve already had everyone I know ask the dreaded questions: 'What do you plan on doing then? Have you found a job?'

The pressure is mounting, and I only finished studying 45 days ago. I’m soon going to have to wave goodbye to things I’ve become accustomed to and get used to new routines - most significantly, a job. I’ve lived 21 years by relaxed schooling hours, which makes a 9-to-5 position every day, for the foreseeable rest of my life, quite daunting.

Goodbye three nights out a week, adios seeing my friends on a daily basis and so long to summer holidays – time to break the 21-year-old pattern teaching me that August is time for a break. I think the fear shared amongst most, however, is the most simple - moving home. After three years becoming adults, maturing, having our own homes and living, largely, independently, it’s a hard fall back home.

“I love being at home with my family,” says Rachel, a law student friend of mine, “but moving back home for good feels like I’m right back to square one. It’s daunting.”

I’m slowly starting to accept that I have to start thinking about my adult life, let go of the free-cheeseburger-shaped hole in my life and bid farewell to the “I’m a student” excuse to explain a multitude of sins. It’s been an amazing, life-changing three years, university, but, with a heavy heart, I think we have to go our separate ways. After graduation that is, obviously.

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