This is going to be one of those no real thing to say, just lots of thoughts to convey moments. I finished my studies a few weeks back and have had a lot of time on my hands to sit around and mull over my next steps. Too much time probably. Suddenly there feels like a lot of pressure to go out and start, it’s like you’ve reached the end of a long dark corridor and in front, an endless amount of locked doors suffocate you. You have to choose the right one before you even figure out how to open it, it’s a confusing time. Especially like me when you’re unsure of what path you even want to take. And it feels even worse being 26 years old in this situation, you already to some degree feel like you’re past your sell by date (which is farcical nonsense really, but it’s hard to sit around a bunch of 20 year old and still feel “with it”).
I chose Computing as a degree because it was something I’m interested in, I was fortunate enough to be around for the rise of it’s significance. From the days of dial up to waiting fifteen minutes for a page to load, from MySpace to Bebo, to rubbish pixelated videos to well, what we have now. What I didn’t necessarily realise going in was how computer literate I actually am or not, at school it was Excel spreadsheets and bog standard html coding; at degree level it’s a completely different kettle of fish. The amount of coding languages thrown upon you, that advance and grow day by day so even at beginner level it’s hard to keep up; to even begin to work in a computer environment means to someone like me who doesn’t find it comes easily, is to live and breathe technology which becomes tiring. Tiring for me in the essence I may not be so passionate as others and that I’m not so patient with learning skills that I find harder than others.
That’s not to say I hated what I learned, I enjoyed it. It showed there is a world of opportunity and whilst I was not confident with sitting and writing in languages, I was confident researching and writing which has always been my forte over inventing anything. But one thing this degree has showed me, is that anything is achievable. If I can spend three years studying a subject that doesn’t come naturally and still pass (we’re still waiting on that but you know, remaining positive) it means when you put your mind to it, you can reach that impossible dream.
The where next part for me was a big deal. I love studying, I love being in a classroom and I love learning. Yes, I need a job but right now I feel tied to what comes first. Which is these years, my twenties as it were are my “learning years”. I spent the first half over indulging in life experience, by working full time in a job I enjoyed, meeting new people, learning leadership skills, yada yada yada. My latter half twenties are to be what my first half should have been, exploring what is exactly out there for me. There is immense expectation to be “somebody”, but for me what I’ve learned in the past nine months is worth more than my degree (sort of). If you want to be a Doctor, be it, if you want to be an Accountant, then be it. If you want to sit and write papers on literature, do it. If you want to run your own business, it’s possible. You don’t have to jump at the first opportunity given to you because it’s there, it may feel we have limited resources but we don’t. You’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available.
It’s told to you at school, or it was to me, that you follow your passions rather than pick a job. That way, the right job will come to you with hard work and with devotion to what it is that sets your heart on fire. I didn’t believe it, and I didn’t know what I was passionate about. Or rather the things I was passionate about still didn’t feel like a career opportunity for me. I love reading, I love weird things, I love macabre things, I love the mind, I love to travel and I love to learn. As a naive 16 year old, 18 year old and 21 year old I felt none of those things gave me security as a career option. I felt I needed to be an official well known job title in a reputable company in order to feel complete. And I lived that life for a few years, but it wasn’t enough. So who’s to say if I walk into an expected graduate position because it’s expected of me, that that will be enough.
Maybe I’m asking too much, but one thing this short life experience has taught me is that there is only one go at it. Why should I spent my years rotting away in a job because it gives me security? Because it impresses those around me? Why can’t I write and talk about those few things that give me joy, that give me pride and comfort? Well, that’s my next step in life. To go down the path I want to, to pick the road that is foggy but over time will disperse and show me my thirties with devotion to a field and subject that gives me real drive and motivation to do more. So I guess that’s my advice, not just to graduates but to all ages and to all walks of life. There is always room to start again, it may not be an easy path, life never is and the hard decision never is. But why live a boring comfortable life if it’s not what really inspires you? It doesn’t matter what you want to be, as long as you’re kind, considerate, willing and driven, your life is in your hands and always will be.
Be a light among the dark, not a shadow in the crowd.
And good luck to all those doing exams and papers. Remember this, a number or statistic does not define you. You are human, you’re good at one and you’re bad at the other. No one teaches you this at school, you learn it as you grow. No certificate or qualification will define you, it’s your personality, your behaviour, your attitude and your generosity that people will remember you by. So go forth and conquer, and don’t let anyone say “you can’t.”