4 things I’ve learnt about life after graduation

Here’s an honest disclaimer, before you read this and come away disappointed that this article didn’t provide you with the most awe-inspiring and life-changing of advice—I’m still muddling away at life the way most people are. All I can offer is a sharing of some things I’m still learning, myself!

1) The smallest interactions will be the ones that lift you up for a long time

Before my office moved locations, there was this cute and friendly auntie at the fruit juice stall that always had a ready smile and friendly greetings whenever I swung by to get a drink. That never failed to make my day better; I’m sure that your own days have something like this that keeps you going.

You don’t have to get too caught up in nostalgia trying to recall everything single interaction; being too attached to the past won’t do you any favours and it’ll just make you sad. Instead, appreciate these moments when they happen and remind yourself that there are bright things in every day when work gets too stressful. A warm smile, a hug from a loved one, friendly words; remind yourself of all the simple things that life has to offer. These are the things (and not retail therapy, I’ve personally found) that will keep you going.

2) To err is human, to ___ divine

Bless late night thoughts (or Google?) for helping my spotty memory to fill in the blank.

The blank stands for ‘forgive’. Forgive others when it feels hard (it almost always is), and remember to forgive yourself for unproductive days or silly mistakes. Life is tough and everyone is fighting a hard battle, especially during these unprecedented times. Most of your peers will actually be bumbling around trying to figure out how to live life well, even if their social media reflects otherwise.

Basically, holding on to negativity is really tiring and staying a responsible working adult™ even more so. Make more space for positive happy things instead. I like the cheesy but oh-so-true phrase that goes something like this “The sun is setting, and tomorrow we’ll try again”.

I have learnt that proper breathing helps with emotion regulation. Did you know that many of us don’t know how to breathe the right way, and this actually affects everything from our posture to our teeth? You’ve heard that right, and it’s never too late to get back on track. Try it for yourself!

3) Your major/degree really, really does not define your future

Jobs and industries are changing rapidly today (as the impact of unexpected events like COVID-19 can attest), and what you specialised in university may not be entirely applicable to your first job or even your last.

Just looking around at my colleagues is enough to tell me this: in the marketing agency I’m currently in, at least half of our marketing creatives come from non-business or communication-related backgrounds. In fact, their fields of study include engineering and chemistry!

I look at them and wonder if I’ll have the courage to step out of my comfort zone, too, but that’s a story for another day. Just remember that a degree brings you the required technical knowledge to enter xx industry, as well as soft skills that will be transferable across industries and are in-demand today. Cultivate these soft skills whenever you have the chance!

4) Not all your achievements will be recognised (and that’s okay)

Throughout school, you’d work on assignments and feel victorious if you got an awesome grade. It’d motivate you to keep things up for that first-class honours/summa cum laude.

When you’re no longer answerable to just yourself (pretty much), things change. Working life is different with its added responsibilities—you’ll juggle a lot more things at once and have to deal with your company and/or client expectations. Sometimes the stuff you put in so much effort in gets canned, and you work nights off for something that doesn’t get as much as a bat of an eyelid.  Sometimes you’ll just get so incredibly frustrated—you’d ask yourself if what you’re doing is worth it and if you aren’t cut out for your role.

Here’s what I’ve learnt and am constantly trying to internalise: it’s okay! Getting rejected is just part and parcel of life, and the work you put in will count towards something! You’ll have gained in experience, and pride knowing that you did great work, for one.

To encourage yourself when the days seem down, keep a notebook to jot down the moments you feel proud about! When I look back at previous records, I realise that I’ve grown slowly but surely in skill and experience— and that’s honestly the most important.

What are some of the things you wish that you’d remember after graduating, if you’ve yet to toss the cap? What are some of the things you’ve learnt, or are learning if you have? Do share with me below, Digital Senior would love to hear from you! (:

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