Before I start, I want to thank everyone who read my previous post. The response has prompted me to break my number one writing rule, write as if no one will read it, so thank you for that as well. Now onto the main course…
I have to say that I’m not a fan of top tip articles firstly; because I rarely gain anything from them; secondly, they require little effort to write; and finally, I feel as if I’m the last person qualified to give any sort of advice. Therefore I would appreciate it if you viewed this as a critique of my life in the past year rather than expert tips. So without further ado, here is my note to my fellow graduates:
My fellow graduates,
It seems like years ago since I graduated, mainly because I feel as if I’ve had five years of experience shoved into one year. I should probably find a way to not feel this old but that can wait until another day. Having graduated almost a year ago, I have decided to share some of my experiences in the hope that it may provide some insight into what you’ll be facing. In the interest of keeping this post as short as possible, I’ll just launch right into it.
1. It’s even more important to have companions after you graduate
The initial graduate life is a lonely life, if your aim is to work. A companion, preferably a recent grad, is vital because they will understand what you’re going through. I spent seven months looking for a job and the vast majority of that was spent alone. There were a variety of reasons, number one being that contrary to popular opinion, I’m naturally shy and guarded so I tend to withdraw when things don’t go to plan. However, I also felt that the older saints and students just didn’t get my situation because they hadn’t gone through it, or they’d experienced it too long ago. When I finally found companions who could relate, it was such a relief. When I do this again, after grad school, I’ll exercise to fight my natural inclination to keep my struggles to myself. It’s embarrassing to not get a job and in this economy it’s likely that you’ll struggle. The best way to overcome the anger, frustration and depression is by being with like-minded saints.
2. The world does not owe you anything
This seems like an obvious thing but even for the most logical of us out there, there comes a point when you want to punch a window because you realize that the world won’t play by your rules. Sticking to the plan, that is; going to school and getting good grades, doesn’t equal a job within six months. Even having experience doesn’t necessarily help, especially in Europe, just because everyone’s resume looks pretty much like yours and you have more experienced people willing to take a pay cut in order to feed their families. The sooner you realize that the only person you can trust is the Lord, the easier you’ll find it to cope.
3. The life of a graduate is very uncertain
What I miss most about education is the structure. I knew what the next few years would look like, I knew where I was going and how to reach my goals. Things were defined and, barring a few mishaps, there weren’t any abnormal fluctuations. The graduate life is just a crazy ride. As a Christian, probably more so. I was talking to a brother who graduated last year as well and we both agreed that the graduate life is in itself a form of training. I would even go as far as to say that in these economic conditions, the graduate life is a more intense training than the first year of the FTT. Why? Because you’re out there in the world, you feel alone and you’re without your safety net. You suddenly realize that every decision you make can drastically alter your life. This can lead to you ignoring vital decisions for weeks because the thought of making a mistake paralyzes you with fear. But this is a great time to be gained by the Lord. In my experience, the Lord allowed me to fall down the deepest blackest hole and then yanked me out. Just as I was about to give up, He appeared and glued me together with Himself. I can barely plan for today, let alone next week, but I just appreciate that He is in control!
4. Morning time with the Lord makes a huge difference
I don’t always read the Morning Revival but I try to make some time with the Lord. I either read the Bible or as many pages of a ministry book on the train to work. Those 35 minutes on the dirty London Underground trains seem to go so quickly but they are key to my day. I walk into work with the ministry on my mind, a song in my heart and prayer on my lips. I’m ready for the day and watch out anyone who is in my way. I attribute my success at work to my time with the Lord. Just by praying and taking Him in whenever I can, I have achieved much more than I was meant to at work.
5. Nothing can compare to the church life
When I sit at my desk at work, I wish I were with the saints. This is not rhetoric but the truth. I want to be with all the saints, not just the students that I’m friendly with. The home meeting in Central London is something I try not to miss just because it’s my home and I can be built up with the saints. It’s tough being out there in the world as a young Christian and if we don’t take care of our church life, it’s very easy to be blown away by the world. But making it to at least one home meeting a week allows you to sit, slow down and breathe in God fully. For the next few hours nothing else matters. You can recharge your spiritual batteries for the week and soak in God.
Fortunately for me I get to go through the graduate process again, albeit I’ll be a little older and hopefully wiser. While I’m sure my experiences will be different, I’ll make sure to have these five points on my heart so that I don’t go through the same experiences.