Diaries of a Queen’s grad

Being a post-grad can be scary

Ariel at her Sociology convocation.
Credit: 
Supplied by Ariel Saffer-Spiro

Something that’s gotten me back on my feet since graduating is being constantly asked, “So, what are you doing now?” I didn’t know what a terribly mean question that was until about two days after my last exam of 4th year. Take it from me, if you’re looking for friends, do not bring it up to a recent graduate. I personally hate when someone asks me that question, but it has also provided me with a seriously needed wake-up call.

I just graduated with a BaH in sociology from Queen’s and before I get into the struggles of the impending reality, I’ll first tell you the tale of the life I had envisioned for myself before I began university.

Initially, while applying to universities, I always wanted to go away for school, and have my degree set me down the path of social work. Although I was right about going away for school, I gradually realized that social work may not be the greatest path for me to pursue. 

However, the values and perspective of society that initially told me a future in social work would be ideal have never wavered. So I continued on a path that was directed by my passion to help people become their best and most powerful selves. 

Sociology gave me a wonderful perspective to go through life with and even though I have no concrete idea of what I’ll be doing next, I wouldn’t change my degree for anything. I am confident in the fact that sociology has properly prepared me and educated me for my entire life to come. 

I’ve always been a fan of the Canadian education system and said I would stay in school as long as I could. I stayed true to this and after graduating high school, I went straight into university. 

While at Queen’s, I was fully aware of the fact that my four years of university were to be the best years of my life. Students are constantly told that the life they create for themselves at university is not representative of the real world, so they should appreciate it as best as they can. 

Let me tell you, I did this.

I fell so much in love with Queen’s culture that even now after graduating, I know tricolour will forever be running through my veins. I love the spirit and the community that I created for myself. I love that pier a little too much. I even loved my professors, no matter how many essays they assigned to me throughout the years. I love Queen’s so much that I actually think I’ve gotten a tad off topic.

So, I guess it’s time to come to terms with the fact that I am no longer a Queen’s student. 

All the memories that are still so vivid to me are in the past. This thought haunts me when I begin to think about my present situation. Today is a Thursday and I’m not kidding when I tell you I had to check my phone to confirm the day of the week – I feel like I’m in permanent summer mode.

I’m not going to lie, when I don’t think too hard about my everyday activities, I love my new life. It’s unbelievable how much stress I was under at school. Since my last exam at Queen’s, I haven’t had any trouble focusing on the present because there is seriously not a single thing that I have to worry about. No deadlines, no scary meetings to prepare for, literally nothing. 

This freedom was nice for a bit and it still is. I honestly believe that I deserve this time off to relax after four years of studying and working, but I am now on week five of bumbling around and living at home – I’m starting to get antsy. 

To fill the days, I’ve taken up yoga and meditation. Don’t judge me, I’m trying to ‘find myself.’ 

I’ve also appreciated having the time and energy to really focus on my younger siblings and to hang out with them. But still, I think I’ve discovered that five weeks without a routine or schedule is about as long as I can go without going insane.  

I’ll call this my own personal revelation, because I’ve been patiently waiting for this drive of mine to kick in. I think I’ve always known that I’m happiest when I keep my days full of activities and maybe even having a goal or two per day. I guess it just took my body and mind these five weeks of freedom to remember this. 

Being a recent university graduate has unfortunately made me the perfect victim at just about any family gathering. I think it’s because I’ve been away in Kingston for the past four years and so in the minds of my relatives the question of ‘What comes next?’ makes up for all the small talk that I was fortunate enough to miss out on in the past. But if you ask me, it’s just plain rude. 

I remember being at my friend’s house for dinner one night in about grade four or five, and my friend’s father kept on asking me so many questions. I eventually said ‘Can you please stop asking me so many questions?!” And that is exactly what I’d like to say to everyone that I talk to now as a post-grad. Queen’s fortunately taught me to have proper manners, so instead, I stutter and mumble some gibberish for as long as it takes for the person I’m talking to to slowly walk away.  

Some combination of this sheer boredom paired with my painfully uncomfortable conversations have led me to begin thinking about the possibility of looking for some form of employment. Now, I know that I am extremely fortunate not to be desperate for work right now – my parents have graciously taken me back into their house. Sometimes I think that I could probably get away without spending any money for the rest of my life. Of course, that’s if I wanted to live with my parents for the rest of my life. 

But, there’s a thought that keeps coming back to me that I think is what’s really going to spark my motivation. I think that being a Queen’s graduate is my proudest accomplishment today. Although it warrants pride, I’m worried that if I don’t act fast, being a Queen’s grad will continue to be my most prominent descriptor for the rest of my life. I don’t just want that. It would be nice to accomplish a few more things in my lifetime. 

Queen’s was great, but I’m scared that if I keep living through my tricolour memories, they’ll be all I ever have. I don’t know what it is that I’d like to do with the rest of my life, but I’d really like to at least start setting some-short term goals for myself. 

Until recently, I understood “you have the rest of your life to work” as an excuse to avoid doing anything, but I’m (thankfully) beginning to understand this statement through a much more productive perspective. I have the rest of my life to do whatever it is that I like, but I need to start now so that I can test out all the options out there. 

To be honest, all of the potential opportunities I have at my fingertips terrify me. What if I choose the wrong path? What if I try for something but I don’t succeed? What if I get a really cool job but I have to miss out on a great vacation with friends because I’ve committed to working?

I’m terrified that I’m going to  make a decision I later regret. However, I also know that if I let these worries control me, I will end up living out the vision I painted before — living with my parents and forever being solely a ‘Queen’s Grad.’ 

So, what’s next? I’m still unsure. But I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I need to make a plunge in some direction to least see where it takes me. 

QJ, thanks for letting me use your newspaper to help me collect my thoughts. But seriously, if I volunteer to write another article for you, please gently remind that I no longer go to school with you.

 

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