TOMORROW: The classic fourth-year existential crisis

TOMORROW: The classic fourth-year existential crisis

[Written by Perry Stewart – Online Editor]

I’m almost certain that a whole stack of people around the internet will have written about this already, but I’m entering my fourth and final year of university and I am filled with a dreadful sense of unease. It’s not that I’m not looking forward to returning and getting back into the groove of lectures. No, it’s the fact that I have to make proper adult choices soon and I’m in no way ready for that. I bought a giant plush shark from IKEA today with my own money, that is how much of an adult I am. So, when I was given the brief to talk about the concept of ‘tomorrow’, I decided I’d talk about how much I’m dreading it.

It began earlier this month when my sister suggested I apply for the civil service fast stream when it opens soon. This prompted a sensation which I can only describe as a desire to vacate this current reality and find one filled with only fairies, and rainbows…and socialism. I said “Maybe!” and left the conversation there.

This is a reality for most students in my situation I suppose. It’s all very well spending four years reading Roman plays and debating the ethics of theoretical stances but in the end it’s still incredibly scary to be entering a world and workplace as a young person these days. I vividly remember an employability lecture we had in archaeology about a year ago where they told us about all kinds of memberships and certificates that are desirable in the sector and it honestly made my eyes bleed – wasn’t my degree enough? Now I need even more boxes ticked?

And then there’s the immediate choice about further education. Postgraduate degree or work experience? They say a masters makes you more valuable to employers, but how does that play out when I watched my sister get almost thirty rejections before she was recently hired – granted, by an excellent company who was worth waiting for – but the process looked soul crushing and scarily competitive. The option to even do a masters is a privilege in itself, what about all the people who don’t have that choice?

The reality is: the job market sucks, competition is intense, and the only thing going for me is my weirdly expansive general knowledge and some really well-crafted tweets – it’s my magnum opus. I recently tweeted that I thought I would do really well in medieval times and I still hold that, because even living in a shack in the woods under the shadow of feudalism would be more fun than looking at graduate schemes.

In all honesty, I’ll probably be fine. I’m lucky enough to be able to do a masters if I want to, I have wonderfully supportive family and friends, and enough experience from summer jobs and volunteering that I’ll surely be able to weasel my way into something. None of it stops the feeling that you’re being pushed down a hill at high speed though, and that’s really hard. I have cherished my time at university, and the concept of graduating is terrifying but it’s a challenge that I think I need right now. Plus, I need to get through 120 credits of study including a dissertation I’ve already neglected reading for… so. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. And to all my other fourth years out there, I love you… you’ll be fine.

And if not, I hear bit-coin is a great investment right now.

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