About a year ago, I got the opportunity to write an article for The Arena regarding my thoughts and feelings about graduating in 2021. The article was about the dreaded question of “what's next?” and how I personally felt that this question resonated a little differently with those who graduated in 2021.
Throughout this article, I admitted to having no plan for life post-university and how there should be no shame surrounding this. I recently reread the post on The Arena’s website and it led me to reflect on the things I have achieved since I wrote that article, and since graduating in June 2021.
In the article, I stated that when a lecturer asked what my plans were, I, embarrassingly, said that I had no plan, and how this made me feel like a disappointment. Looking back, the conversation I had with my lecturer and how I was feeling at the time is still so clear in my head, but, for me, taking a year out was definitely the right decision to make and I am so glad that I took that time for myself.
I studied Photography for four years and throughout my course, I discovered that photography wasn’t my main area of interest. I wasn’t sure what creative direction I wanted to head in after graduating. So, instead of jumping straight into a creative role that I wasn’t 100% passionate about, I made the conscious decision to take a year or two out, get my barista training (this was something I had wanted for a while) and experiment, network and explore as much as I could before “settling down” in my first creative role.
I am so glad I made this decision, as not only am I happy in my barista job, I have also been dipping my fingers into multiple different creative pies and I’ve been loving it! Since graduating in June 2021, I have had the opportunity to exhibit in Glasgow, start my own small business selling handmade notebooks, prints and cards, produce a few of my own projects which I am passionate about (and didn’t have time to pursue during my studies), and co-found the thing I am most proud of, Point of You. I truly feel like this was an important transitional period in my life, as not only did I achieve the goals I had planned, it also allowed me to have a clearer idea of what I want to work towards.
With social media, it is so easy to see my old classmates thriving in their photography careers, and I am so proud of them, but it sometimes leaves me wondering if that was the path I should have taken. However, deep down, I know that I made the best decision for me. Finding the courage to not follow the same path as my peers was scary, but I am proud of everything I have achieved in the last 12 months, and I know future Laura will be grateful that I took this time to do a little soul searching.
So, where am I now? I am content with where I am in life right now, so I don't have many big plans. I am going back to university in September to get my masters, which I am looking forward to! And even though I still am unsure as to what creative role I ultimately would like to work in; I feel more settled in myself, and in the creative world and I have a much clearer view of what I am working towards.
As graduation season approaches, I just want to highlight to the class of 2022 that it is okay to not have a plan, or a job lined up or internships organised, you are in no rush. Remember to go at your own pace, and avoid comparing yourself to others - it is not a race!
I ended the article for The Arena on a nice note, so I am going include the same ending here, as it is still relevant:
To the Class of 2022, my main advice for you all is to take a step back, take a little time off and some time for you, because it is well deserved! Jobs, competitions, and everything else aren’t going anywhere, everything will still be here when you feel ready to come back.