The TimeHop app. can be funny, nostalgic, embarrassing or, in my case this weekend, scary. On Saturday just gone, it was 2 years since I graduated from university. In some ways, it feels like a million years ago, like the idea of being a student is a distant memory from a past life while in others way, I still feel like at some point or other, I'll be going back after this massively extended Summer break to start another year of hungover lectures, finishing essays at 5am and spending more time in the library than at home. Truth is though, this isn't a break between years of university, and as I don't plan return to education, especially not in the near future, I guess you could say I'm a graduate. Yes, that's right, I am a graduate. Somebody awarded ME a degree. Crazy stuff, eh?
Like most creative industries, fashion relies for heavily on gullible young people willing to work their asses off for little or not pay and exploitive employers trying to pass it all off as invaluable experience. Because 'invaluable' and 'unpaid' are apparently interchangeable terms. I've done a few internships alongside uni or work, some paid, some not, but all of which I've enjoyed and learned from. However, I'm now 24, and I'm in no position financially to give up a permanent full time job to pursue unpaid temporary work and sadly fashion industry really doesn't cater to the likes of me, aspiring and hard working but realistic. It often weighs on my mind, had I not gone to uni, but instead spent that time making the most of being young, living the home and willing to work for free, I could be somewhere very different now. Part of me thinks 'yes, I should've done this, imagine what I could've been doing now' while another part thinks 'hell no, I'm worth more than being free labour, I'd rather an honest day's pay for an honest day's work '. Either way, I didn't do that, instead I choose to go to uni and in some ways, I regret it.
I've worked for the same retail brand since my first year in university. 18th November 2009 to me exact. At 24, it's quite rare to have been with a company for nearly 6 years. For the most part, I like my job, I've met a whole host of amazing, talented and hard working people, made some great life-long friends, learned a lot (career wise as well as just general life skills) and have just finished their management training programme. Having studied for a degree in Fashion Business, my job does pull on certain aspects of my degree although it's not a graduate job. However, having graduated two years now, I often wonder what'll be next for me. I love fashion and love retail, but I could've skipped the whole degree thing and would probably be much further ahead by now.
Another thing, a lot of people leave uni with a bunch of life long friends and loads of invaluable experiences that adult life just cannot give them in the same way that student life can. Me? I have a few friends from uni that I catch up with periodically, but none of them are close friends of mine above and beyond our time at uni. As for the majority of the life experiences I got under my belt for those 4 years of my life? They came from my social life, not from uni. During my time at university, especially during my final year, I had became so utterly sick off it all, and my mental health wasn't great. I was only continuing on with it all because it was so near to the finish line but retrospectively I now see how much it was all getting to me and how it would've been much healthier for my education and my mental health to just quit (or at least postpone) while I was ahead.
While I'm very proud of my degree and all the hard work that I put into getting it, it still haunts me a little that that period of my life wasn't spend as well as it could've been, to benefit me as a person or my career. I wouldn't say I wish I hadn't gone, cause perhaps it was going that made me realise how that I'd been better not having gone...