That Sinking Feeling.
For most people, graduation will be an exciting and happy time. Who wouldn’t be excited at the prospect of a bright future, sans late nights at the library? With such promising tomorrows, it can be hard when you are the only one not feeling happy at the prospect of graduating. Enter: post-graduation depression.
Although post-graduation depression isn’t an official diagnosis or mental health disorder like clinical depression, it is still a very common phenomenon. A lot of psychologists think that the ailment seems rare because it is under-reported and understudied.
We all know that life transitions can be stressful and triggering – even those who don’t suffer from pre-existing mental illnesses may be affected. Transitioning from being a student to an ‘adult’ can be one of the most jarring experiences for young adults. All of a sudden, you’re worrying about careers, job hunting and many other things that come with entering ‘the real world’.
Psychologist, Rachel O’Neill explains, “Change, in general, can bring about feelings of sadness. Graduation represents a major life transition, and with that transition can come feelings of sadness or concern about the future. For many, graduating university can mean that multiple aspects of their life change relatively quickly (i.e., finding a new place to live, starting a new job, meeting new people). In essence, this becomes a bit of change-overload and it can be overwhelming for many individuals to navigate these additional stressors.”
I’ve graduated, now what?
This is a question many graduates ask themselves, especially when things aren’t going the way you expected them to. The whole concept of graduation comes with a lot of expectations, success being at the forefront of everyone’s minds. These expectations usually concern getting a suitable job and stepping confidently into the working world. It doesn’t help that they come from the graduates themselves (internal expectations), and family and society (external expectations).
With so much pressure from everyone (including themselves), it’s unsurprising if you start feeling low about graduating and life after university. The yardstick for success and fear of rejection can lead to negative thoughts about the future.
Many graduates don’t get the jobs they want immediately, it’s a harrowing process of hours of applications and many rejection emails. This can translate to hopelessness and shame over their perceived inability to transfer their degree into a career. Adding to that, the competitive nature of job hunting and high rates of unemployment can make you feel uncertain of yourself as a candidate.
How do I address post-graduate depression?
So, you’ve been feeling down about job hunting and you’re not sure how to make the situation better? First of all, don’t worry. The chances are, you’re not the only one going through the post-graduation slump. Why don’t you reach out to some of your university friends and see how they are doing? A problem shared is a problem halved after all!
A good question to ask yourself is: have I been taking care of myself lately? At busy times, we often forget to take time out to process the emotions we are going through. In all of that stress, don’t forget to make time for yourself. O’Neill, a therapist, advises: “Instead of trying to escape the emotion, allow yourself to experience it while also thinking about how you can commit to focusing on your future. I also like incorporating extra self-care during times of heightened stress and sadness — things like daily affirmations or gratitude practices can be super helpful.”
Change your job-hunting approach
Finally; change your approach to job hunting. Instead of applying to as many jobs as possible, try getting in contact with a recruiter and send them your resume. Even if they don’t have positions you’re looking for, chances are they’ll be more than happy to give you a few pointers on your CV.
If you’ve recently graduated and are feeling this way—it’s ok, we promise. EXP would love to have a chat about your career goals and help you accelerate your career. Why don’t you send us your CV? We’d be delighted to have a one-on-one career advice session with you!
Now go out there and own it, you’ve got this.