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Finished college, so what next?

Daniel recently finished college and has found himself weighing up the pros and cons of the freedom it brings.

newspapers from sxc.huHaving recently finished college, I’ve found myself in an unfamiliar situation. I went straight from school into four years of university.

So, really I’ve always had the luxury of having a pretty good idea of what’s coming next.

Gaining control

I sometimes found this pretty frustrating and wanted to have more control over my time than the structures of school and college allow.

Now that I have that, typically enough, I miss the certainty and the reassurance of having a clear next step.

Financial stress

The familiarity of being in the same place for a few years straight is nice to have as well. There are also the usual financial issues, and I’d like to find a way to support myself for the next while that I also feel will benefit me in the longer term.

While I have a lot of ideas about what I’d like to move on to, I don’t have a completely clear picture just yet, which does feel quite stressful sometimes.

Unfamiliar scenario

I don’t generally have trouble with stress, and never really had problems with exams or anything like that. But, I have found myself getting quite anxious about my situation now a few times, which is probably down to the fact that it’s an unfamiliar scenario for me.

I’ve also found I’m a lot more likely to get anxious either when I’m worn out after a long day, or when I allow myself to over-think things. So then I focus on the negative aspects.

Usually, a good night’s sleep, or just not letting myself think about these things and focusing on something else can help. That’s easier said than done, though. It can be quite difficult to switch off or distract myself sometimes.

Finding a way to reduce stress

I’m also one of those people who finds that making lists is a great way of reducing stress. Just getting a vague idea of my plans or options down on paper can be pretty reassuring. Even if it doesn’t make things any clearer, a lot of the time it creates the illusion of doing so, which is half the battle.

One of the biggest transitions from college has been losing the day-to-day routine of it. As I’ve said, while I did sometimes find this frustrating, it was also reassuring and automatically put some organisation on my time.

Forming new routines

Now I have to try to impose that bit of structure myself, and I’ve been trying to form new routines. I’ve been fortunate in finding some part-time work, which has helped with that. Putting that structure on your days and weeks helps reduce stress and energises you more than just taking each day on its own.

Using my independence

Another thing I’ve been finding is that making plans in relation to what my friends are doing is a bad idea. I can learn a lot from friends’ experiences and they can provide helpful advice, or just chat to about all of it. Ultimately, though, comparing what I’m doing to what they are, isn’t productive.

I’ve got to a stage now where I’m free to do my own thing, to some extent at least. It’s better to take advantage of that and figure out my own route rather than to make plans based on whatever other people are up to.

Overall, I am feeling really positive about the possibilities open to me and the freedom to decide what to do next. More importantly though, I’m getting better at dealing with the times when I don’t feel quite so good about it.

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What can I do now?