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Navigating Post-Graduation Uncertainty: A Journey of Expectations vs. Reality

Cross-section of graduates at last year’s Graduation Mass. FILE PHOTO

By Davidia Sydney

As I placed the pen down at the end of my last exam at the University of the West Indies, I couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement and anticipation for the future. This was it! I had now earned my degree. Like many of my peers, I worked for years preparing for this day, motivated by the possibility of a successful and prosperous future. However, I had no idea that the path ahead would be anything but smooth.

Expectations versus reality: a striking contrast that I, like most recent university graduates, have had to deal with in the months since graduating. Equipped with a degree and a sense of purpose, I entered the real world, only to be confronted with harsh realities. The job market is tough, and opportunities appear limited. What I had once envisioned would be an unlimited sea of options now appears overwhelming and unpredictable.

As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, I found myself feeling progressively more lost and stuck. Some days, it’s hard to muster the hope and optimism needed to believe that things will get better. The self-imposed pressure to achieve weighs heavily on me, and doubts begin to creep in. As the job rejections pile up–and most times you don’t even get a response–the dream career I envisioned at times feels more and more out of reach. It’s during these moments of doubt and what feels like hopelessness that I find myself questioning everything: my choices, my capabilities, and unfortunately, sometimes even my worth. Did I choose the right major? Was all the time and effort I put into my education worth it? Questions like this torture me daily, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and unsure of myself and my abilities.

But amid the darkness, there is a sliver of hope. I try to remind myself that I am still young and that there is still time. It’s okay not to have it all figured out. I go back to the cheesy Pinterest quotes like, ‘Success is not always linear’, and ‘Setbacks are a natural part of the journey’. I lean on the never-ending support of my family who, although they are not going through the same thing as me, are there to listen and share their words of advice. I talk to my friends, who through their own stories remind me that I am not alone in this struggle and that these feelings are universal.

I take comfort in the small victories. The part-time or temporary jobs I obtain provide me with opportunities to apply the skills learned at school and gain experience. I am also able to network and make meaningful connections. I continue to pursue online courses that help me sharpen my skills and expand my knowledge. Each step forward, no matter how small, assures me that progress is being made, even when I don’t feel it.

So, to my fellow graduates who may be feeling lost and uncertain, know that you are not alone. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, to question yourself, and to stumble along the way. But never lose sight of the potential that lies within you. Keep pushing forward, one step at a time, and trust that God has His plan and works on His time.

Despite the challenges we face, we must always believe that He will work it out for us.