Today makes it exactly a year since I finished school and started my first job as a Nurse. And what a year it has been! I have learnt so much in the space of this year and there are so many things I have learnt that I wish I knew earlier. So today, on my jobversary (lol), I will be sharing 5 key lessons I have learnt about life after graduation.
Your career is a journey and not a destination
This has got to be one of the biggest and most difficult lessons I have learnt during the course of the year. You know that thing where people ask you what you want to become in future, and you tell them something like Pilot, or Medical doctor, or Lawyer, and your hope is that you go to school, graduate and then you become that thing. That’s not the way it works o. lol. Your career is much more than a title, it is a journey. It is not something you become immediately after you graduate. And though the realization of this could be really upsetting, it is something you have to come to terms with. Understanding that your career is a journey helps you understand and appreciate the many hills, valleys, curves and turns in the process. It helps you develop patience. Patience with yourself, and with the process. It also helps you understand that it is okay to want to change career directions. Your priorities may change, your experiences may also give you a new perspective. It is all a part of the process. I guess that’s where the word “career path” comes from. It is a path. It is a journey. It is a process.
Imposter syndrome is real
I struggled with this a lot when I first started working. I wrote a bit more about this HERE. There will be times you go to work and just feel like you don’t deserve to be there, or that your skills are not good enough. You might feel like you are a fraud. That someone will walk in at any time, point at you, and say “You! what do you think you are doing here”…kinda like in the movies. This is especially true if this is your first job, a new job, or if this is your first professional job where you get to use and apply the knowledge you were taught in school. I just want you to know, you are not alone. A lot of people experience this too. It’s okay. Remember it’s a learning process. When I look back on the things that scared me when I first started working, the things I was unsure about, the very things that made me feel like an imposter, I smile. It’s amazing how much my confidence has grown. And that is something that will eventually happen. Trust me on this one. As long as you work on improving yourself and mastering your craft, you will also look back and smile. So walk into that office, room, job, with your head up, shoulders raised and like you deserve it all, cause you have worked hard for this! Faith it till you make it!!!
Money is never enough
See hehn, this one was a shocking discovery for me too o. If you are like me, you probably already started calculating the money you would start earning once you are done school, and how you will be flexing on another level. lol. Immediately I got my employment letter, I already calculated my potential salary, how much I would be saving etc. First thing that burst my bubble was tax. #IYKYK. When my first paycheck came like this hehn, I was shooked. Who is Fed tax, CPP and EI and why are they taking all my hard earned money???? On a serious note though, the prospect of earning more money can be really exciting for a graduate, but with more money comes more responsibilities. I don’t know where the responsibilities come from o, I sha know that they come. Lol. So don’t expect that your monthly budget/spending pre-graduation will stay the same. Your taste will start leveling up to your bank account. You might also be newly responsible for taking care of your own rent, bills etc. So start developing a sense of financial responsibility NOW. Pay attention to how you spend now that you have little so that when you have more, you will not be inept with it.
Your mental health is a priority
I learnt this one the hard way too, so I know this cannot be emphasized enough. I remember finishing school and entering into a period of depression. ME o, A whole me. I just wasn’t happy. Maybe it was because post graduation life was not what I expected, or maybe it was a coincidence. I don’t know. All I know is that I pushed myself too hard, didn’t pay attention to my mental health, and I tanked. I wrote about it HERE. Make yourself and your mental health a priority. One statement that always resonates with me is that you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you are empty yourself, there is nothing you can give, so ensure you replenish yourself before you start pouring out to others. Understand how best you operate. Be realistic with your expectations. REST. Yes, don’t feel guilty if you need to take a break. Take a break! No one is chasing you anywhere. If you have to take some time off after school before you launch into your career journey, do it unapologetically! With your full chest, lol. Don’t allow anyone guilt-trip you for it. Build your support system. Be intentional about your tribe i.e the people you have around you. Have a mental health play list. I joke about this but if you check my Spotify account, I have a playlist for almost every mood. I have a confidence booster playlist, an emotional playlist (for days I need motivation to cry??), a worship playlist, nursing playlist etc. In short, develop a self care plan. You need this to deal with the life ahead of you. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
FEAR is your biggest enemy
Yo! I am still struggling with this o. Fear is the number one enemy. Even your village people can’t match up with this one, lol (God has taken care of your village people, Can I get an AMEN! ??). A lot of times, fear is what stops you from taking that opportunity, from doing that thing, from bringing that idea to life. Fear is why you haven’t applied for that job, or quit that job. Fear is what brings those innumerable excuses to your mind. Fear is why you procrastinate. In short, blame fear for everything! Once you conquer fear, or more realistically, once you learn to do it afraid, the sky is your starting point!
In conclusion (a.k.a Bonus point?), Adulting is hard y’all! It is definitely not a pot of beans (or jollof). Let no IG picture or Facebook flex deceive you. Adulting is hard. I remember how I couldn’t wait to be 23 when I was younger, and now that I am 23, I miss being 16. lol. School is sort of like a shield, or maybe ‘filter’ is the right word here. Post-graduation life is life without that school filter. There are no academic advisors to tell you which electives to take, or which course works best for you. You are responsible for your own decisions now, and these decisions could make or mar you. That is the unfiltered reality. So, get your priorities right. Set them now, don’t wait till that diploma reaches your hand. Have a strategy (no matter how rough), and your own group of advisers (mentors), people you can trust to help you through this adulting journey.
And there you have it, 5 (or maybe 6?) things I wish someone told me about life after school. Are there any ones you can relate to? Any other lessons you have learnt and you would like to share? Drop a comment, you know I like hearing your thoughts (winks).
Thank you for reading.