Two roads diverged, and– is it too late to go back to uni?
There’s a transition from the moment you victoriously toss your graduation cap in the air to the moment you can barely recognize yourself in the mirror. What is it with university and its ending that sends so many people plummeting into an abyss of self-consciousness?
The Road to Character
by David Brooks
⏱ 14 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
Transitioning from the role of a student into a fully-functioning adult is something you’ve strived for all your life, right? So, to some people, it makes no sense that the goal they’ve been losing sleep over for years, now that they’ve reached it, has chipped away at their self-esteem.
Graduation does serve as a trigger. And here’s why. After that cap is tossed into the air, and the music stops, your brain starts buckling under the pressure of problems you may have not had to deal with before. Suddenly, financial, emotional, and social issues are thrown at you seemingly all at once. Questions and doubts keep many a graduate up at night.
Lack of Validation
Here’s something you didn’t expect, especially if you were an overachiever or particularly talented. For the majority of your most formative years, unknowingly or not, you’ve sought comfort in academic validation. Your teachers applauded your brilliance at school. Later on, college professors praised your efforts and intelligence.
Now? The job market is cutthroat, and there’s no one validating and pumping you up like before.
Doubts and Regrets
Kind of like FOMO. Instead of the ‘fear of missing out,’ you’re regretting what you have missed.
Some can track their lack of confidence to regret: regretting how they spent their time, wishing they’d done more during their university days, hung out with friends more, gone to more parties, studied harder, chosen a different major, et cetera.
Lack of Motivation
And the road ahead isn’t exactly motivating to these young grads. It is bumpy, riddled with potholes. And for some reason, everyone else suddenly seems to be racing ahead.
When young graduates tentatively venture into the job market, they find themselves in limbo. The high-paying jobs they want are seemingly unreachable. They need experience to even get to low-paying jobs, but they need jobs to get experience. It’s a paradox, really, and one that results in anxiety every time you head for a job interview.
Introverts and extroverts both experience this. Everyone does. After school ends, you’re no longer stuck in classrooms and lecture halls with people where you had to make friends. No more study groups, hanging out in courtyards and outside of lectures.
No one tells you how harder it is to make friends as an adult. Without your social battery charged, you can experience self-doubt and begin to question your confidence.
These are just some of the reasons why you may be experiencing a lack of self-confidence as a young grad. The next, most important step is to look forward. Take a deep breath. Remember that, despite appearances, no one has it together in their 20s. Not everyone gets a job right off the bat. Join a club, reconnect with old friends, and get a good night’s sleep. You’ve got this!
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