Graduating from college is supposed to be an exciting time. Finally, exams are behind you, and you have your whole life ahead of you — you’re ready to make the most out of it. Well, unless you have post-graduation depression. Post-graduation depression might not be an official diagnosis like clinical depression, but it’s a real thing.
I would know because I had it.
The time after my college graduation was one of the most difficult and complicated times of my life. Having spent five years studying something I didn’t really like, I kept thinking that I had wasted five years of my life for nothing.
I was overwhelmed with emotional stress. I had no idea who I was and what I was supposed to do next with my life. The future seemed dark and uncertain. I reached a point where I struggled to even get out of bed every day.
After working some things out and giving myself time, I got better. Suddenly, the future didn’t seem so dark after all. And now, I’m writing this to help all of you who have been struggling with post-grad depression too.
Let Go of the Idea That You Wasted Your Years
As I mentioned above, I struggled with the anxious thoughts that I had wasted five years of my life for nothing. Not only I didn’t really like the subject of my studies, but my bachelor’s degree was also in an uncertain field — I had no idea how I could use it to get into the job market.
The thing is, in reality, I hadn’t wasted these years at all. Yes, the subject of my studies didn’t appeal to me, but college had offered me some other valuable things. I met new people and formed new friendships. I learned critical thinking, time management, how to put my thoughts into words, and so much more.
The time you spent in college isn’t just about preparing to get into the job market. It’s also a time of self-discovery when you get to know yourself, be more independent, meet new people, and discover new places. You’ll come to realize that you’ve learned plenty of valuable skills along the way.
Explore Different Career Opportunities
One of the leading causes of post-grad depression is the overwhelming pressure to find a job related to your degree. Some degrees — like mine — don’t have specific lines of work that you’ll be eligible to apply for after your graduation. For those who do, it can still be challenging to land a job as a recent graduate.
Now whether you’re struggling with landing a job in your field of studies or the latter doesn’t appeal to you, you might want to consider some different career opportunities. Some jobs are open to graduates from any degree background. You could do some research yourself or connect with a career counselor. You could also see what past students are working on now.
My degree is on International and European Studies — which is a mix of politics, economics, and law. However, I unexpectedly ended up working with kids, and I discovered that I really like it. Your degree course doesn’t need to dictate what you do for the rest of your life. On the other hand, if you do want to work on something related to it, doing something else temporarily isn’t a bad thing — any work experience might come in handy.
Rediscover Yourself and the People Around You
When I first started adjusting to life post-college, I realized my relationships with the people around me had changed. I’m mostly referring to my friends. It seemed that all our mutual interests had suddenly vanished, and we hadn’t much to talk about. As you can guess, we gradually drifted apart. That had me feeling lonely, with no one to talk to.
I soon realized that not only my friends had changed, but I had significantly changed as well. From the way I dressed to the music I listened to, I was a completely different person from the one I was when I first got into college. That led me to a process of re-discovering myself. What I enjoyed doing and what I didn’t, what my real needs were, and what I was searching for in other people.
I also paid attention to the people who had remained in my life. Did they really care about me? Were they important for me? That helped me understand what people were worth having in my life and led me to rebuild some valuable relationships.
Life transitions can be stressful and triggering for everyone. And the transition from being a college student to trying to make it in the real world is a big one.
If you’re experiencing post-grad depression, know that you’re not alone — and that you’ll make it. Give yourself time, and you’ll see that everything will work out eventually.