As graduation looms, I seem to have completely stopped caring. A mixed feeling of pleasure and fear has overwhelmed me as I mindlessly send job applications and watch organisations I don’t even want to work for reject me. The excitement of the real world is drowned in a horrible, blue hopelessness that reminds me of how unprepared university and student politics leaves you for everything beyond its doors. 93% of students at Lancaster find employment within six months of graduating: an impressive statistic that makes me question primarily how many of those students end up working in an area they actually find fulfilment in, and how impossible such a thing is. Thinking about the future is depressing.
What isn’t depressing is remembering that you’ll never have to pull an all-nighter to finish another essay on bloody sonnets, or watch as you plummet deeper into your overdraft, or even vote in another LUSU election. Hopefully you made some friends as well – a statement that I realise is mostly true but also an absolute kick in the face to all those who went through their university life lonely and struggling to reach out socially to people. But at least there was alcohol, and plenty of it. I could head to each bar, each day, and it was wasn’t so much worrying as it was just a bit weird. Nobody really questioned your mental health and instead used you as a guaranteed drinking buddy. Wait, wasn’t I talking about what *wasn’t* depressing?
I guess that’s the issue. I attempted, numerous times, to write a final column piece coated in hope and excitement for the world beyond this hill-top bubble, but after a few hundred words I found myself lying to the four people who probably read this. (Hi, Mum!) There is little to feel optimistic about for the vast majority of students leaving this July with their graduation hats held high. The best they can hope for is maybe moving back in with their parents and finding a job that will help them pay off their ever-growing debt, and possibly moving into a rented apartment later.
We’ve also, to everyone’s delight, fallen head first into a five-year government that is happy to produce more and more part-time, low-paid jobs and say, “Hey, how are you not successful? Look at all the opportunities out there!” On top of that, even while struggling to breathe in this turd pool, we have to consider ourselves lucky because God knows how much more difficult it will be for the students of tomorrowland – especially for those studying subjects like Art, English, and History, who might not even exist in the UKIP-style dystopia of higher education.
But hey! Let’s not forget that, while it all seems like an uphill struggle from here, the very fact we got to spend three or more years living in a student sphere is a pretty decent start. I cannot tell you how soul-destroying it is when I overhear, or even partake in, some of the pointless complaints which students seem to produce on a daily basis. We live in a country where food banks are relied on by millions and where human beings are treated as worthless because of their religion, race, gender, or nationality. And do not be like, “it’s all relative, mate”, because it is not. So while life beyond university is a depressing notion, it could be a lot worse.
Enjoy your graduation, though. Be proud that you got through and prove me wrong (because you obviously live your life based on what the Fox says), for I know that there are a hell of a lot of positives that come with studying at a university like Lancaster. It lacks the pretentious aroma of many other institutions and allows you to “keep it real” occasionally. So while I do hashtag-Love-Lancaster, it has moulded me into a pessimistic, overweight, more morally-correct version of myself, holding onto the idea that I might one day get paid to help people achieve something with their lives instead of working on commission at a PPI call centre. I hope that it has had a profound effect on you too, and if not, you can always hold onto the fact that you aren’t Ronnie Rowlands.