The 'Life After School' Article
For those leaving school and wondering what's next.
I am in 400 level, doing a five-year course. This means that many of my friends doing four-year courses are leaving school this year. Last month, two of them reached out to me, expressing their concerns regarding the future, and it made me realise that this was an issue relatable to many almost-graduates.
School provides us with a level of security that is difficult to get back once we’re done. Sure, it can be very stressful—especially in a Nigerian University with all its orisirisi—but being surrounded by other students who are generally in the same stage of life as you, and who are also subject to a higher authority, can be quite comforting. Even if you are unsure of what you want to do with your life, it’s much easier to keep calm and focus on your studies because nobody expects you to have it all figured out. Your parents won’t make you feel like a visitor in your house because you are waking up by 11 am while your mates are at the office. They’d probably only expect good grades and accolades. They understand that their investment isn’t ripe yet, so they will wait.
But what happens after it’s over, and you have to face the “real world” as a graduate? What do you do then?
I honestly don’t have all the answers. For the most part, you will have to sit down and decide what your next steps will be. Will you do NYSC? Get an internship? Go get a Master’s degree? Stay home for three months and relearn how to breathe? I think it is in this “deciding” that many people worry they will make the wrong decision. But I will always remember an interview I watched of Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO of Big Cabal Media (parent company of TechCabal and Zikoko). In it, he spoke about how his youth was pockmarked with a lot of career-related indecision. “A hallmark of my career is that it’s been very, very windy. In many different directions. Finance, Advertising, Anthropology, Record Label, etc.”
I thought that was so interesting because, by all accounts, he is considered a success by the world now. But back then, the people in his life probably thought he was unserious for jumping from one thing to the other.
A while back, I met up with work colleagues for a shoot. While we waited for a guest, a conversation about university days sprung up. Those who went to private universities shared how they’d ask for permission before leaving school and mastered the art of sneaking around to make out. While those who went to public universities talked about how crazy the strikes were. In all this, there was an air of detached endearment. What was a present reality for me—being a University Student—was far removed from them. To make matters more interesting, in that room, there was an International Diplomacy student turned Social Media Manager, a Computer Scientist turned Musician, a Classical Arts & Literature student turned Public Relations Manager and so on. What were the odds that life could take such interesting turns?
As I listened to them, a smile spread across my face. It occurred to me that they likely had no clue who they would become when they filled out their JAMB forms, or even what their future had in store for them on convocation day. But somewhere along the line, they had discovered their passions and found ways to make a living doing what they loved.
I think these two instances have made me relax, and I hope it helps ease your anxiety as well. The present could be confusing and scary, and you might even feel like an athlete on the tracks tying their shoelaces while the whistle has been blown, especially when everyone around you is obsessed with the question: “What’s next?” But by trusting yourself, you will figure something out along the way.
And finally, a quote:
“Don't let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It's your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don't let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others' prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.”
― Roy T. Bennett
I am rooting for you, near-graduate.
See you next week!
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Media I Consumed This Week:
Listening: A lot of Lana Del Rey. She reminds me of being thirteen and full of angst, thinking the world revolved around my feelings. There is a selfish comfort in her music. Also, Norman Fucking Rockwell may not be her best album, but it’s the most comforting. I will forever be a Lana girlie.
Watching: I honestly didn’t see anything this week. (Inserts “I only saw shege” joke). Time no dey.
Reading: Practical Approach to Law of Real Property in Nigeria, by IO Smith. You guys should pray for me, please. This degree is after my life.
Ps. If your exams are starting a month from now, start reading. Time no deyyy!