We are finished! Most of us. Finished our bachelors’ degrees. Fresh from the exams, we are sitting in bars and each others’ houses talking about all the things we don’t have to do.

Out of high school there’s an understandable rush. Go! Get your degree, the world won’t wait for the indecisive or unqualified. All through university, there’s a rhythm of semester and exams and break for work, a constant rush of assignments and classes and shifts.

That ended suddenly. No one tells you that you will wake up with the realisation that there’s nothing more you have to do. (except go to work that afternoon.) Postgraduate degrees do wait for you. You can do them part-time, in breaks, after children or even during retirement. So even if you do want them – and I do – there is no push. Not like there has been so far.

I spent yesterday sitting on a friend’s bed, sorting through her wardrobe. Clothes from summer holidays, school graduation hoodies, teenager’s clothes, throw-it-on-and-dash-to-uni clothes. How could this be an adult’s wardrobe? But as we sorted through, work-appropriate tops and sensible pants and downright conservative footwear came to light. And there, in a pile next to her childhood bed, was a working adult’s wardrobe. How did that creep in, between the teenage jumpers and well-worn jeans? When did this happen?

We are networking now. Talking about it in between bites of late-night pizza. We can work, can study, can do both. No one warns you about this precipice. No one explains that after school and university, relief from obligations just feels like emptiness.

I am writing this with dry winter hands on the bus home. I will keep going at university, but not because I have to.


The featured image is Kandinsky’s ‘Black and Violet’, 1923.


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