Some practical ways to get through your existential life crisis when graduating

November 29, 2016
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Finishing uni is a time filled with champagne, black hats, corny inspirational quotes and mother’s tears. It’s an exciting time where we wave goodbye to a very warm, very comfortable cocoon (albeit reluctantly) and get thrusted out into this big, bad world we’ve all been hearing about. And while we know the world is our goddamn oyster and we can be anything we want etc, I’ll be the first to admit I’m anxious about finishing uni.

Because if we’re honest, this is when shit begins to get real.

Mid-life crisis, hey. I say those 50-year-olds don’t know what they’re talking about. The REAL existential life crisis begins when you’re about to graduate. If you’re one of the few who are yet to shake hands with the ultimate party pooper, then lucky you. But I’ll paint you a brief picture. This feeling is the exact opposite of all Jack Johnson songs.

Unlike driving where we’re graced with Google maps, life doesn’t have a directory or a “how to” manual. Quite frankly, I don’t have a clue in the world of where I’m meant to go next. My options are yo-yoing between moving to the Mediterranean and falling in love with an Italian or winging it as a freelancer in the city.

But one thought that gives me some comfort is that we’re all in this together (cue High School Musical soundtrack). Here’re some practical ways to get through your existential life crisis when graduating…

Look after yourself

Our sleep, food and exercise habits will inevitably affect our overall mood and stress levels. Life’s too short to be anything but happy, so take the time to check in with yourself and see if deep down you’re feeling good. If you’re not, reach out to someone who loves you for some help – we all need it every now and then.

Learn a new skill

You’ve probably heard the popular phrase that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. During your existential life crisis when you’re questioning everything from the validity of peanut butter and jam to God, it’s tempting to chill in your bed and not do much. Very tempting. But surprisingly, it’s not very beneficial. As humans we are continually growing and finishing university doesn’t mean that your acquisition of knowledge should stop.

Read stories of people whose life paths were not all roses and lollipops

There’s nothing more motivating than reading up about the life journies of people who almost royally stuffed things up (or, they did) and they somehow turned it all around and ended up writing a book or becoming the Nobel Peace Prize recipient. I live for this stuff. Read biographies, go crazy on Google, and I’ll just leave this quote here.

At 23, JK Rowling was broke. Tina Fey was working at the Y.M.C.A. Oprah had just gotten fired from her first job as a TV reporter and Walt Disney had declared bankruptcy.

I think the reason why this is so powerful is because it reminds us that in contrast to what society tells us, there isn’t one right career trajectory for all of us. In fact, there’re a hundred billion ways to walk. You may land your dream job at 23, or you may have 10 babies before you’re 30. Or, you may move to the Caribbean and drink coconuts for the rest of eternity (my third life option). The most important things are finding out what makes you happy, being a good person and forgetting about other people’s expectations and pressure. We only get one life, so we may as well live it as we choose.


Every year we are learning more about the profound benefits of meditation. It can change your life and equip you with the tools to calm down during stressful times. It can also increase productivity and can help clarify your perspective in life (about how the world won’t end when uni does).

And some final things to ponder on…

You’ve just graduated! You got a degree you clever little thing! Let’s go and celebrate and spend time with people who make us feel good, shall we? And let’s be nice to each other while we’re there. It’s so easy and it makes a hell of a lot of difference in the big scheme of things. 

Avril Treasure

Avril studies Journalism at Notre Dame in Sydney. In her spare time she enjoys playing cards with her grandfather, drinking one too many margaritas and pondering hypothetical questions.