It’s about that time again where Freshers are going shopping with Mum and Dad for tea-towels, cutlery and bed sheets, with a sneaky order of condoms on the side. You know, just in case they get lucky in that first week of drinking and mingling. There are a bunch of articles going around with advice for Freshers, who are entering the new, exciting world of University life. They will embark on a journey which they will look back on as some of the best years of their lives.
But what about us graduates? We who have finished with those years of enjoyment, of free falling and not worrying too much about the outside world?
Well, let me tell you one thing. It’s bloody hard. It isn’t surprising that many graduates refer to a “post-university depression”, which isn’t addressed all that much. In 2014, when the economy is still pretty dead, it is hard for anyone to get a job. But don’t you feel that after your three years of hard work, getting that result and wearing that gown, that you should be entitled to a great job? Not an awesome job, but a great job, one significantly better than you would have got without a job, where you can work your way up. Isn’t that your right after all?
I certainly feel that way. As a 1st class graduate, I know how soul-crushing it is to be applying for a job that has no need of a degree. And to be rejected. Over and over.
Depression is something that cannot be predicted, and some argue it cannot be prevented either. While that may be so, I think it’s important for graduates who are experiencing this kind of soul destroying rejection and tedious application process over and over again to take some steps to make sure this episode of life doesn’t result in something more.
1) Do something you enjoy.
Nobody has more spare time than an unemployed person. It may feel that every minute you spend away from your laptop is a minute wasted, a minute that could be spent finding that one job. Well, that’s not true. Try taking a couple of hours a day to vent your frustrations doing something you love, whether that be a shooting game on your X-Box, bashing your drum kit so hard the skins might split, or getting really angry at a punch bag. Get these feelings out, calm down, and get back to it.
2) Ask for advice.
That dreary guy at the job centre, who doesn’t actually offer any advice in applying for jobs, isn’t the only one who can help. There are lots of places to get advice on your applications, and you don’t even have to leave your bedroom. Try the advice pages on Reed.co.uk, and even the Guardian Online has some good advice on Cover Letters. You could always do it the good old way and ask people around you, like a graduate friend who recently got a job. Doing something over and over again and expecting different results is silly, so seek advice and do it differently. That difference may be what makes somebody employ you.
This is a must for anybody who feels like things are getting on top of them. Exercise is the least-used antidepressant, which involves no artificial chemicals with nasty side effects. It releases endorphins and will leave you more positive. Besides, what better way of using your time is there than becoming really fit and buff? Even if it’s just going for a short run, using a skipping rope or doing some star-jumps for five minutes, get hot and sweaty, clear your mind and then go back to it.
4) Talk to people.
If you are starting to feel really low about things, talk about it. Not because you are weak or unable to look after yourself, but because people need people. That’s why we, as humans, are made the way we are. We can understand different tones of voice, facial expressions and hand gestures. This sets us apart from other beings. We need human interaction, to talk to each other, to share our feelings. Everybody goes through hard times, so express them. Things will get better.
If you are worried that you are feeling the signs of depression, please seek professional help. Go to your GP and they will listen to everything you have to say, every feeling and doubt, and they will help. Go to www.mind.org.uk for advice on self-help. Nobody has to go through it alone.
The main thing to do, however, when it comes to jobs, is to keep trying. No matter how tedious it is, how many times you have written the same words to the point that they don’t mean anything anymore, think of every job as “This could be the one.” For the moment, find a balance. Spend time with your friends and family in between applications; watch a good TV show to escape from things, and stay positive. It will happen.