Location: Albert Dock, Liverpool, England
To the Class of 2015 (and anyone having a quarter-life crisis). At first, leaving university feels like freedom. The end of a chapter, you get to move back in with Mum who is more than happy to do all your washing for you. But what about when the luxury of barely having to tidy up after yourself and free use of a washing machine has worn off? You'd happily spend 40 hours straight camping out in a library again than continue to apply for graduate jobs. WELL HANG IN THERE. Because I've had a revelation (hear me out).
"It's all about money, not freedom, y'all, okay? Nothing to do with fuckin' freedom. If you think you're free, try going somewhere without fucking money, okay?" Sorry about all the fucking, it was Bill Hicks that said that, and when I first left university, maxed out my overdraft and found I was unemployed, this quote summed up my life.
To give you some background on my life when I graduated last summer, I was on a minimum contract of 5 hours at work until further notice. I was expected in around one morning a week, maybe slightly more. Which was great - I didn't complain, I had a job. On top of this I began volunteering for a youth charity called vinspired. So yeah, I had things going on but I still had a lot of time to myself.
But I didn't have much of a social life... because to have a social life, I guess you need some money. And that's where the quote came in, because Bill Hicks's epiphany depressingly tied in with my life back then. I had all the time in the world to do whatever I like, the world my oyster, and yet I was too skint to actually do anything.
No, no. That's fucked I said to myself. But it's how a lot of people felt - and probably feel again this year. When I was eighteen, a lot of people I knew, like myself, got good A Levels, got into university and moved away. University for me was a struggle. I went from pampered daddy's girl, hanging out with my friends any time I wasn't in class and making up the rules as I went along, to living alone with strangers, making decisions for myself and school work suddenly requiring a lot more effort than I'd bargained for. When I got into university, my first year was crazy and I was resorting to going out clubbing every night and drinking myself to near-death to get away from the chaos of adulthood. When I finally decided to get a grip, it was like building a gigantic jigsaw puzzle of what I wanted out of my life, and even now I'm still putting the pieces together. There's a picture forming, but it's hard - which is exactly why I'm thankful for the post-uni chapter, and why I became determined to be "free" without relying on money.
If you've not even started to build that jigsaw for yourself yet, this is the time to start. Towards the end of my last year I was in the library every day, doing stuff for my society and meeting my coursework deadlines. I was determined to do as well as I possibly could academically. But stuff I hadn't considered, say for example, what are you doing with your life when this is all over? (just a small question) I was pushing to the back of my mind. I was ready for university to be done...but I didn't know what was to come next. I went to a couple of lectures in my spare time that talked about travelling, taking a gap year and opportunities to volunteer and became inspired by the idea that actually no, I don't have to sign my life away to a career just yet.
So how do you regain your freedom if you have no dough?
Well let me just say, this post isn't another patronizing how-to guide - I'm pretty sure everyone this post applies too is at least the age of 21 and is perfectly capable of figuring out what free stuff there is available. But, just in case you do need reminding, ideas include: go for a fucking walk outside. Turn off your wifi and read a God damn book. Youtube something that you wanna learn and learn it. Learn a musical instrument and start a band. Start a blog. Volunteer. Exercise and get the body you've been dreaming of. Listen to new music. Watch old DVDs. Invite your friends over for sleep overs or dinner and talk to each other, rather than getting drunk and communicating via taking selfies together. Or scrape together some quids from your money tin, get some cheap booze and do get drunk. Stay up all night talking about life.
All that you could have figured out on your own. Maybe some of it is what you have been doing to kill time anyway. Yeah look for a job/attend your job - you need money yeah, if you weren't arsed about a job you wouldn't have gone to university in the first place. But be free. Stop telling yourself that the good times are over. University was the bit to make mistakes, university was hard. University was all work and little money, all play and major ignorance to the consequences. University was a playground to find yourself, but this is the time to start figuring whatever self you've found out.
Don't worry about what you want to become, making this image up in your head of what you should be. What your parents or your uni tutors were telling you to be. Instead shed the stuff you've become that you don't want anymore, and be who you were meant to be in the first damn place! Before struggles and too much booze and fucked sleeping patterns.
So yeah, that Bill Hicks quote I told you about, it's sorta been haunting me. But it's pushed me to realise that actually Bill, I am free. Not because I can find a load of stuff to do that doesn't cost anything. Much more valuable than that, I can be eighteen years old on the edge of adulthood again, but knowing what I now know. That to me is worth way more than what any graduate job could tell me.
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