Navigating the Fever Dream of Graduate Life in a Pandemic

It goes without saying that this year was the equivalent to an unexpected club over the back of the head. The entire year has felt like the first ten minutes of a Doctor Who episode and I think we can all agree, nine months on, that it’s about time David Tennant dropped out of the sky and sorted this mess out. 

Lockdown forced us to turn our lens inward and examine ourselves in uncomfortable detail, away from the distractions that the hustle and bustle of our previous lives supplied. Personally, I spent March trying to force optimism on myself and my loved ones (and perfecting my dream house on Sims 4); I spent April panic writing my dissertation; I spent May working on a tan; and I spent June running laps around the common until I thought my legs would fall off. I was in denial, then grieving the loss of the opportunity to tie all my loose ends at university – no graduation, no ‘lasts’, no goodbyes. Then July came, along with the question I’d been avoiding for years: what am I going to do with my life? I turned 21, which felt alien and grown up, as though the second I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, I was thrust into the realm of responsibility and accountability. In August, the weather was uncomfortably hot, yet I felt like Bambi on ice, hiding out in my hometown, adding tasks to my to-do list that I’d already done just so I could tick them off and feel like I had achieved something. 

So many of us have endured this, suffered and thrived to varying degrees. This pandemic has stolen things from all of us, but making the transition from university and its protective little bubble to the increasingly harsh outside world has been particularly tough. It’s hard to put the life lessons that we’ve learnt over the past three years intro practice when the world we’ve been anticipating doesn’t exist anymore. What can we do? Improvise, adapt, throw ourselves into projects, take three naps a day, bake banana bread, host zoom quizzes, swear at Joe Wickes or Chloe Ting whilst trying not to collapse during a set of mountain climbers? Find what keeps you afloat and embrace it.

As of September, and a very snap decision to uproot my life, I live in a city where red constellations hang low above the skyline, emanating it’s perpetual development and expansion. It’s the third place I’ve called home and it feels like the perfect place to keep drafting myself; developing, expanding. Walk the tightrope of my twenties, to attempt to maintain a balance between self-acceptance and self-improvement. 

Long story short, I feel better now, and to all my fellow bambis skidding around on the ice, you’ll find your footing too. Being a graduate is a notoriously confusing time. Enduring this notoriously confusing time in what honestly feels like an endless fever dream has been a momentous challenge and will one day for all of us be one of our greatest achievements. 

Image courtesy of Daryan Shamkhali

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