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Four years at university, four long years of academia that now leave me with what feels like limitless possibilities as to what comes next. It feels strange to be honest, even when I handed in my dissertation, I felt nothing that would lead me to believe that I was stressed, or slightly worried as to what my grade might be. Perhaps I am confident that the work I’ve put in will warrant a good grade, or maybe it’s the realisation that I no longer have that bubble — otherwise known as university — that covers me from what I consider to be major decisions in life that I’ve not yet had to make.

Friends of mine have all taken their own paths up until this point, and would always ask me what it was like to pursue a postgraduate degree so soon after I’d finished an undergraduate course at the same uni. Mostly, my reply would echo the same buzz words that I would un-ironically spill in my own head when thinking about why I chose to continue my studies; emphasising that the course was ‘challenging’ and ‘insightful’ was important in that it convinced even myself that I made the right call. I should state at this point that this piece is somewhat different to all my other entries; this one’s a lot more honest, hopefully giving you an idea on what you might be feeling at the end of an MA in a field of your choosing. Of course we all feel something different, that’s part of what makes us separate, with our own expectations and goals to consider; but the general consensus between me and my other course mates is too similar to ignore.

I feel content in my current mental state, which is weird to me considering I thought I would be a lot more fulfilled once I had handed in my final dissertation. During the final days of my undergraduate, I felt a deeper connection with my work; the reason as to why that is stem from the fact that I was creating a magazine that I had made from scratch, and that I had worked within a creative environment alongside other students; peers who all were in the same boat as me and could relate to my woes of not living up to the standards that I knew I was capable of. Whereas during my dissertation, I felt isolated (aside from the occasional conversation with my supervisor Massimo) and would only ever state my feelings to the handful of people who would occupy the library from time-to-time.

Monthly playlists on my Spotify broke up each month into different mental transitions as I moved from each section of my dissertation.

The months of August and September had some of the most diverse selections of songs that I’ve ever put together compared to other months. You could say that this is an audio representation of how scattered my brain was at the time, but hey, it led to some great music choices that I’m still listening to today (shout out to Joji, Childish Gambino and JPEGMAFIA). Playlists are helpful during this time, as are podcasts as they act as company that isn’t really there, but you trick yourself to believe otherwise (The Joe Rogan Experience, 47 Minutes with Joey Bada$$ and No Jumper, are three great podcasts to check out #plug).

Audio helps drown out any potential procrastination sessions, which is actually something I learnt the hard way. I would watch so many videos on topics that I didn’t really think to search before, but for some reason seemed insightful at the time. It isn’t all bad though, I now know a lot about the anatomy of parrots and how many years it will take for the sun to fully engulf the earth in flames. Countless Hot Ones and Complex interviews later and that YouTube rabbit hole tab was closed. The first floor of the library was where I would set up base-camp most days, although to the people who would lock their accounts on my favourite Mac spot I say this: there is a special part in hell reserved just for you (insert fire and devil emoji #millennial). One thing I noticed when in the library is that people do this really weird thing where they pick up their phone and simply look at the top of their social media feeds for any notifications before locking the phone and picking it up a minute later to do the same thing.

I often wonder how much happier I would be if I deleted all my social media, but at this time I remembered that my dissertation question was based on Instagram so I didn’t want to fall out with it just yet. 

The final days leading up to the hand-in were somewhat hectic, but not something I was new to. Weathering the storm of your work is simple if you have an idea of what kind of conclusions you can draw, which is something I confirmed from the moment I finished conducting the research part of the dissertation. I finished my dissertation a day before the initial hand-in, this was a day before my birthday (September 15th). I would joke that handing it in would be like giving myself the best present I could ask for, then I realised that I was turning 24 and that presents are interchangeable and temporary, whereas sharing a space with friends and family was a lot more meaningful. So I handed in my dissertation on the day of the deadline; proofreading multiple times to make sure that it was up to scratch. I handed in and did the only thing I knew how to celebrate such an achievement: got drunk on anything I could find and dropped it down low in any club that was playing tunes from the 80s.

So where does this leave me now? Well, you could say that I’m between jobs right now, or nursing a breakup with an ex of four years who required a lot of care and attention. Right now I feel free to pursue creative-based jobs, hopefully one’s that are within a completely different city with new and interesting people. A friend recommended Bristol which does sound refreshing, although as someone fresh out of uni, I can’t help but feel that a trip away is needed to recharge my batteries and to line me up for what comes next.

In short, it is important to know that any pre-conceived thoughts/feelings you might have towards the end of your study will not reflect reality.

Prepare for the unexpected and understand that it’s perfectly fine to question why you did it in the first place; this is what sets you out from everyone else and is what makes you, you. Now, someone please pass me an application for a PhD…

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