A year ago on this date I graduated from King’s College London with a degree in English Literature. And so the culmination of the last three years, and many more even before that, flashed before my eyes in a haze as I, clad in a Whistles dress way smarter than anything else I own, stomped across the stage at the Barbican and accepted a diploma.
The day itself was perfect and I had a wonderful time, but the act of actually graduating and finally completing my education was, for want of a better word from someone who spent three years studying words, weird. Anticlimactic, even. Suddenly you’re done and you’re off into the world and sort of expected to know what you want to do which is pretty difficult at the age of 21 (I was 22 after a Gap Year, but not the kind with elephants in Thailand). If you, like me, deal badly with change (that’s putting it mildly), then such a big change as exiting formal education is pretty tough, particularly if you, like me, had no solid plans ahead other than to ‘try and write a bit and work in fashion’. You and almost every other girl in Topshop on Oxford Street, mate.
Always an intern, never a bride. That’s how the saying goes, right? Post uni I fell into freelance life, so not strictly an intern. As many freelance writers will tell you, working for yourself is amazing. When you have work. When you don’t…not so much. Cue intermittent weeks of me not getting dressed, getting obsessed with going for a daily walk, and torturing my nearest and dearest with being the most depressing person at any dinner table. Sorry guys. Work was sporadic, ‘freelance’ became code for ‘unemployed’, and the writing I did do often didn’t warrant – how can I say this – payment. Exposure for my blog in exchange for my words seemed valid but I am here to tell you that it is not. Pay. Your. Writers. Pay everyone, to be honest.
In the end, however, I learnt to quit moaning, start hustling, only rely on red wine for solace 3 nights of the week, and stop comparing my work to the work of fellow grads in entirely different industries. And that is almost as liberating as when I quit wearing bras.
What have I learnt this year, other than the thing about exposure not actually being a real thing, because you can plug your own blog and one paltry mention at the end of an article doesn’t equate to minimum wage? I mean aside from teaching me that I do not need to wear a bra, freelance life in the wake of graduating has taught me a lot about my writing and has also had the huge impact of really confirming that this what I want to do. So that’s a pretty big thing, and something I remind myself of during the many, many times when I feel I’ve achieved nothing in the last few months. That, and I talk about my breasts almost too often.
And after all that, I’m heading back into education to start a Master’s course. So having complained for three years that I’m a worker and that I’m done with studying, here we go again. I’ll see you in a year for yet another graduation reflections post.
Outfit: Skirt, Topshop; Tee, Idea Books Ltd; Boots, Kurt Geiger; Scarf (worn as a belt), Alexander McQueen