This Is The First Year I’m Not Going ‘Back To School’

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This is the first year I’m not going ‘back to school’, and it feels really weird.

I was lucky enough to get a job straight out of college, so I haven’t had a Summer break or any of that whole ‘aimless postgraduate’ time. Instead, I’m suddenly confronted with the fact that there are no more long breaks, that there will never be months of free time stretching ahead of me (unless I lose my job, in which case that free time will be spent stressfully sending out applications). I’m the busiest I’ve ever been, working a 9-5 alongside writing online. I can’t sleep in, I can’t just blow off responsibilities, and I can’t spend days binge-watching TV anymore. I don’t feel like an adult yet, but I’m in an adult world. I don’t know if I’m ready.

It’s strange knowing there are no end dates any more. There’s no real imposed long term structure. Rather than looking forward to another year of college, and dividing my life between ‘in school’ and ‘on break’, it’s just work and weekends. Internships have turned into full time work, which I thought wouldn’t be a massive change but it really, really is. I actually have to invest energy in long term projects, and my ideas are listened to. I can no longer just leave any work I don’t want to do in the knowledge that someone else will do it once I’m gone (not that I ever did that, but it was nice to have the option).

There’s just a LOT of responsibility, post graduation. One week after my last exam, I signed papers that mentioned pension schemes and life assurance, a little overwhelmed at the idea that people were trusting me with a paycheck and a job role with tasks that actually needed doing. I still feel a little ‘really, me?’ about the whole thing. I know I can do my job, but I still feel like a young person playing at being an employee.

I miss writing essays and going to lectures. I miss getting assessed and graded, weirdly enough, because I always knew how I was doing. Instead, I’m in a constant limbo of doubting myself and hoping that I’m doing the right thing.

In college, everything was structured – there were assigned lectures, deadlines for essays, dates that you could go on vacation and dates when you had to come in. Now, while there’s a 9-5 schedule, I have to work out what the heck I want to do long term. I have to choose what’s best for me, rather than some mysterious school system doing it for me. If I want to learn new things, I’ve got to make a concerted effort. It’s weird. I’m in control, and I’m definitely not used to that kind of power, even if it’s over my own life.

Things are going well for me, post college. I haven’t made any major screw-ups, I’ve got steady employment, and, while I am living at home, I at least have a place to stay where I’m comfortable and get to eat for free. But I feel unsettled, and I think that feeling will stick around throughout the next year. I just hope it won’t stick around forever.

Come September, I’ll see friends returning to classes, or starting new courses. I’ll feel pretty sad, to be completely honest, not to be joining them. I loved college. I loved the lifestyle, the social aspect, and learning new things. But I’m learning to love the post-grad life too. It’s time to move on, I guess, and start life in the real world, where I set the schedules, and grade my own work.

[Lead Image via HBO/GIRLS]

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