You’ve just completed your degree, hooray! Somewhere between the trauma of finals and the excitement of being invited to graduate, you may have found yourself asking “what now?” This was definitely the case for me soon after being ‘approved’ to graduate.
After years of late nights, stress and a lacklustre social life, it was all over. I had dreamt of this day from my very first semester, yet I couldn’t help but feel like the sparkle had dulled. The stress and anxiety was quickly replaced with a feeling of unyielding emptiness. The feeling was similar to one of buyer’s remorse. I felt as if I had saved up my pocket money for a new toy, only to realise that once the novelty had worn off, I was no happier than before.
In fact, I felt even unhappier realising that graduating was no longer my motivation, nor would it fulfil or validate me as I had imagined. Between working at my part-time job and trawling through job advertisements, I found myself with frankly too much spare time and an overwhelming feeling of purposelessness. Sound familiar? Here are some strategies to survive this awkward limbo period…
Stop feeling so guilty about all your free time! It is undoubtedly an unfamiliar feeling after completing a law degree, but try to enjoy yourself. Take the time to relax and take care of yourself. In my first week off, I couldn’t sit down for fear of turning into a sloth. I scrubbed my apartment clean and found all sorts of odd jobs that “needed” doing. I wish that someone had forced a piña colada into my hand and bought me a hammock. Seriously, put your feet up and enjoy some fiction or binge-watch episodes of that show that’s been on your Netflix list for ages. You deserve it.
A hammock may not cut it for all of us. If you’re still not feeling relaxed, try disconnecting for a few days. Turn off your phone, unplug your Wi-Fi and enjoy a healthy dose of solitude. Research has shown that periods of solitude can assist you to think deeply, refocus and ultimately enhance your social relationships. Take the time to enjoy the sounds of nature and reboot your headspace.
So maybe those vending machine meals and all-nighters have you feeling a little out of shape. Or maybe you simply overindulged in post-exam celebrations. Either way, now is the perfect time to get yourself fit and healthy. With more free time on your hands, you have no excuses. You can hit the pavement solo or with a friend, or make use of that gym membership you’ve been paying for all year.
We all know that exercise plays a major part in releasing the ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brains, but research suggests those who engage in physical activity tend to sleep better and establish more productive routines. So, take the time to focus on your health and set yourself up for success.
Make a List
When was the last time you visited your city’s art gallery? Sit down and brainstorm a list of everything you feel that you have missed out on over the past few years. Get adventurous! Go and see a film alone or bake with your grandmother. Use this time to enjoy the activities you missed out on doing regularly during your degree.
Plan a Holiday
If you are anything like me, you will have saved very little during your time at university. Between rent, food, textbooks and electricity bills, a part-time wage doesn’t go far. Use your free time to plan out your dream holiday. Grab a map and go travel window-shopping. If you feel inspired, you can create a travel budget and itinerary. This will not only keep you busy but also give you the motivation to start saving for the real deal.
After a few weeks of indulgence and self-care, you will be ready to take on the ‘real world.’ By taking some time out and setting new goals, you will have the best chance of fending off the blues. Not only will you be able to find your Zen, you may also re-emerge as a more productive and motivated you. Enjoy life after law school!
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