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Lady Pat. R. Honising – Coping with Graduation

"After three plus years in a city like this, I can only imagine how you must be feeling having been ripped straight from the soft 'comfort' blankets of college life and flung into the outside world."

Dear Agony Aunt,

I’ll confess, this letter is a tiny bit fraudulent. I’ve noticed how much of a great job you’ve been doing offering your hard-earned advice to the student population, and I was just reaching out to see if you could give the graduate community some love too. I graduated officially a few weeks ago and to tell you the truth I’m lost. Coming back to Oxford to collect my very expensive certificate and throw my mortar board up in the air until my mum managed to get a good action shot was the last little scrap of Oxford life that I was holding on to – now I’m out in the real world wishing that being a PT dweller was still a viable and respected pastime. Please, Lady Pat, give a graduate who would do anything to be back in the Dreaming Spires some help to move on.

All the best,
An In-denial Anon.

Dear Anon,

Oh honey, that’s rough. After three plus years in a city like this, I can only imagine how you must be feeling having been ripped straight from the soft “comfort” blankets of college life and flung into the outside world. Luckily for your Auntie Pat, daddy’s millions cushioned the blow a bit with a modest five-bedroom, three-bathroom in Surrey for a graduation gift, but I realise we can’t all be as fortunate and humble as me. With a few words of encouragement from me you’ll be sorted right out, as there’s absolutely nothing like a pat on the back and a gratuitous “you’ll be fine!” to shield you from the tribulations of adulthood. 

First of all, it wouldn’t be advice from me if we didn’t engage in a little bit of self-reflection. So you’ve graduated, and by the sounds of your letter, you aren’t planning on becoming a permanent resident of OX1 again any time soon. You may not have realised it, but this is the first step, (whether it was a passive decision or based off of a look at Zoopla and its unsubsidised-by-college living costs) but you’re out of Oxford. This means you’ve made that first step to begin the rest of your life! It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing a soul sucking corporate grad scheme or putting in night shifts at your Local to be able to fund that delayed gap year to Thailand, you’re doing something new with your time, and these little victories should be applauded.

So you’ve physically moved on, but I do understand my dear that this isn’t even half the battle. Picture this – you’ve just got home from a full day of work, which you are still adjusting to after your three-contact-hour weeks. You open Facebook to see that your friends who did four year degrees are still being tagged in Oxfesses left, right, and centre – and on top of that you’ve received a pity invite to the fifth week JCR Bop. It’s like all you once knew exists in a different time zone – what’s fifth week to them, to you is seven days of waiting until payday to fund a very average house share… and it all comes crashing down. Sorry love, I don’t mean to exacerbate, but to help we’ve got to face these problems head on. It’s time to be the bigger (and also more miserable) person and do the right thing, leave the Facebook groups, unlike the Oxfess/Oxlove, and unfriend the club reps and union hacks who “just wanted to see how you were doing!”. Treat it like a really amicable but painful breakup, out of sight, out of mind. 

Of course, this is not to say that the minute you leave Oxford following your graduation you can’t step foot back in; you’re never too old or too irrelevant to do a victory lap of the Bridge smoking area! Just take it easy, focus on your exciting prospects, and maybe also stop writing in to the Cherwell Agony Aunt, and you’ll never look back. 

Lots of love,

(Not your) Aunt P. xoxoxo

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