Most of us dream of the day we get to walk across the stage, shake someone's hand and end the ceremony knowing we've got a degree under our belt. Ever since I was 16 and started college, I wanted to go to university, get a degree, get a Masters degree and become a top journalist, writing for some of the biggest publications in the world.
Little did I know how many hurdles I'd hit along the way.
Reality hit me in my final year of my undergraduate degree when I discovered that my path to getting to where I want to be wouldn't be as simple as I thought.
When I thought I was on my own, I became shattered. I wasn't ready for turning into an adult, and I definitely didn't want to get a job and that be it for the rest of my life. I could barely decide what I wanted to wear that day let alone make decisions that would impact my future.
But I had to accept the inevitable. After my Masters course was done, it would be time to get a job. Sure, I could've done a PHD (which believe me, I've thought about), travelled the world (definitely wouldn't have happened!) - or settled for something that didn't meet the high expectations I had.
When it came to actually applying and choosing the jobs I wanted to do, I hadn't quite prepared myself as much as I had done in my head. Until I started my first full-time job, it hadn't dawned on me the actual consequences I'd have to live with when the decision was made. But when I was facing them, I couldn't bear to experience it.
My mum and dad were so proud of me when I graduated from my Masters. Handing in my final project was one of the proudest days of my life. But in the back of my mind, I couldn't help but feel sad about the new reality I was yet to face.
I applied for job after job and even got offered one in London that I declined. I went to many interviews and I was feeling good about myself that I'd got to these stages. But they all fell through for one reason or another.
Then I got a job offer to start at an online interiors company as an E-Commerce Assistant. I accepted it, because hey, it was a start and it might get me some new experience. I was thrilled to have a job and felt really optimistic about it. But what was meant to be a 50 minute journey turned into an hour an a half, sometimes two hours. Soon enough, I began to fall apart, feeling emotions I had never felt before and that I didn't understand.
An overwhelming sadness came over me and it was terrifying. I was going back into a dark place I'd been in before, but desperately didn't want to revisit. I was changing as a person. Tom didn't understand it, my family didn't know what to do and neither did I. I had a full-time job, a wonderful home and a fantastic family - but I felt empty and emotionally drained. I wasn't the Holly I had been just a couple of months ago.
I left that job and had two more similar experiences. Coming up from the darkness and being sucked back in.
After nine months, it became time for me to figure out the parts that were missing from my life and making those decisions was a very difficult part of the journey. Parts of me wanted to give up altogether, but I had to remember how far I'd come and what I'd already accomplished. Those experiences nearly broke me, but I also realised that they didn't have to define me.
When I decided that I deserved and wanted better, I was able to climb up out of the hole I was in. My mum found a job at a local sixth form college that I've now nearly been in for nearly a year and I got the breakthrough with my blog that I wanted. It felt like the parts that were missing had finally come back to me.
It's still difficult for me to look back on all this and relive it. But I also understand that I wouldn't be where I am today without these experiences. I don't want this to be a negative post. I'm sharing this with everyone today, because we can have a positive outcome.
I wanted to include some stats in this post to help even more with clarity on the topic. But do you know there hasn't been a single study on graduate depression? Not one. All we know is that one in four undergraduates suffer from depression or anxiety at some point during university. So why is no one speaking up about this more?
In 2014, information taken by the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that more than 18,000 graduates were unemployed six months after finishing their course. And in another survey taken that year by totaljobs.com, almost 40% of graduates were still job hunting six months after graduating.
Combine that with the debt we're all in when we leave university and it's really no wonder, is it?
So if you can relate to this right now, or you're going to be graduating soon, I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learnt along the way.
You can’t always choose your cards
We all have a plan of where we want to go and what we want to do with our lives. We see the path in front of us. What we can’t control are the hurdles and bumps we hit along the way. They appear whether we like it or not. But when this happens (and it will always happen), you’ve got to remember to have patience and faith that things will work out.
Everything will be OK
I promise you, it will. Even when it’s your darkest day. Even when things seem hopeless. Even when it feels like there’s no way out. It will be OK.
A lot of people love you
As much as I thought that no one understood me, it turns out that they actually could make sense of the situation I was in more than I could. My family were there to help me and I know they’ll never give up on me. Your loved ones are the best cure of all.
A Final Note
Making the transition to life after your graduate isn’t easy, and I’d be surprised if anyone told you they’d had a smooth ride. But you’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve made it this far, haven't you? Trust your instincts. If they’ve brought you to where you are today, they’ll carry you throughout your life.
I'd love to know your thoughts on this in the comments - what are your experiences of feeling lost as a graduate?