Experiences of a Psychology Graduate

7th Jan, 22

Experiences of a Psychology Graduate

I am writing this after completing, and finally graduating from, a long and arduous three-year degree at the university of Central Lancashire. It was stressful, it was exhausting, it was infuriating at times, but most importantly, it has completely changed my life for the better.

Four years ago, I was lost. Treading water, and perilously close time and time again to going under. I had no direction, no ambition, and I was drastically struggling to find meaning in life. During this period, I always felt as though the world was against me, and it left me feeling powerless. If everything was against me, what chance did I have? There was comfort in this, as it allowed me to shirk responsibility, and blame everything but myself for the outcomes I encountered. At the time I thought it felt freeing. I could abdicate any accountability over life because it didn’t matter. Little did I know that this was sending me into a spiral of declining mental health. As humans we all crave a purpose, something that gets us out of bed in the morning. It took me a long time to realise that this is something we need to look for, and really work for.

The first year was tough. Having been out of formal education for quite a few years, it took a lot of adjusting to, and I’m not ashamed to say there were several meetings with lecturers about packing it all in. I wasn’t used to the challenge, and in the beginning, I resented the critical feedback and demoralising marks I was getting. I believed I had enough in me to do the degree, but I wasn’t willing to demonstrate this. I began to realise that my shortcomings were down to a lack of humility.

Everybody starts from the bottom when taking on something new. If you are not willing to be a fool, you will never be a master.

One of the most eye-opening discoveries I made during my studying was the idea that challenging ourselves brings out the best in us. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wished away their time, hoping to wake up older and wiser one day. Or resent the hours practicing a craft or hobby, instead wishing we could just reach that expert level without the hours it takes to get there. The truth is, the journey is what makes us. The challenge is what encourages us to grow. What do we do then, when we are faced with such a difficult road ahead? We arm ourselves for that challenge.

Yes, the world is a tough, scary place, but we are designed to face that head on. We are born with the ability not only to confront the most difficult aspects of life, but to rise above them and transcend them into something incredible. It is difficult. It is certainly not the easy path, but then why should it be? We’re built for struggle, and struggle brings out the best in us.

This does not mean that every endeavour we attempt will succeed. We can adopt this mindset and still be humbled and broken by the pitfalls that life will throw at us. There will always be obstacles bigger than us, and challenges that overwhelm us, but this is true no matter which path we choose. We pick our poison. Life is happening to us either way, stasis is not an option. We decide how we go forward, or we fall back. This may sound pessimistic but in truth it is the opposite. One of the surprising things I found once I had adopted this mindset was that it was actually liberating, rather than crushing. It puts things back in my control, rather than assuming myself to be at the mercy of this world. I can stumble and fail in my attempts, but that can only make me sidestep that same mistake the next time, rather than blindly hitting the same hurdles, wishing they weren’t there. We learn more in failure than in victory, but only if we recognise it for what it is. It is the ability to pick ourselves up that defines us, so we must risk the fall. Life is unfair. That wasn’t a mistaken belief I had; it was entirely accurate. The only thing we can control is what we do about that.

Written by James Heaton UCLAN Psychology Graduate

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