I have no idea anymore what my plan was back when I originally applied for universities in the UK at the age of 18. I am not sure there was one, I just know I was dead certain this was what I wanted: To study English Literature in the UK.
My secondary motivation grew out of a classical late teens-problem: A bad breakup. It did not help me any that two of my teachers at the time decided that my lack of knowledge when it came to Natural Sciences (come on, does anyone actually remember all those odd words?) and my lack of participation in P.E. (my handball-loving teacher and my bad back did not agree, ever.) meant I had to stay home for a year to retake those subjects. This meant I deferred university and the UK for a year, unconditional offer and all, because if I did not pass those subjects the student loan company would give me nothing. I worked in a petrol station for a year and re-did my exams, I passed them, and thought life would calm down a bit and be less of a circus when I moved to the UK in October 2011.
University has been a bit of a circus as well, but a semi-safe one at least! Now what has hit me recently, is how much of a circus my coming months will be. I will be a (well, hopefully actually last year this time around) BA student in my last 6 months of the degree very soon, and I have more or less five different ideas about what to do with my life, but no way to be sure it will be any of them. The main thing I have learnt the last three years is to trust my instincts and fight for what I want, but that makes me no less terrified. I mean, come on, in 6 months I will have to start being a proper adult! How does that work?
I have started taking some tiny steps: Planned what degrees I would like to take next (if I decide to do more education at all), found some jobs to apply for, gone to careers fairs both at my university and at home in Norway, updated my CVs (English one and Norwegian one), not gone crazy yet, not begged to keep my summer job just one more summer yet, stressed out over my final exams five months ahead of time… I know they said life would really start at university, but you are still in a kind of padded, protecting bubble.
Back when I was 18 I remember wanting to brave the big, scary world. Back then I remember looking forward to being an adult. Now I am more scared then I used to be, scared of this life after university, this circus life most graduates end up in for a while. There are so many options now, so many roads with shiny, blinking Las Vegas-signs tempting me, and some with just a post it-note on the ground, but all of them read “PICK ME!” and all I want to say is “I want all, or neither, you are all amazing and all scary!”
I want that bravery I had at 18 back again.
Marie Mathisen is the Digital Acrobat for Career Circus Ltd, she is also in her last year studying a BA in English Literature at the University of Essex, and blogging about what to do with her life after University.