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Conquering My Graduation Fears

4 Jul 2014

The only things in life you can be sure of are said to be death and taxes. For students, throw in "constant worrying" to the mix, especially when you get to your final year. No going back, no resits, no more procrastination - a combination that will spark fear into the most stalwart slacker.

Graduation Blog Image

There are many different worries and fears you can develop. For example, there is arithmophobia - the fear of numbers.

It can manifest itself in particular numbers, or all numbers for more unfortunate sufferers. It can be incredibly limiting – numbers are everywhere, a part of daily life.

I don’t have arithmophobia, but when I felt a sudden lurch in my stomach upon hearing 2015 recently, I did start to wonder.

For me, it seems it is not the number itself but what it represents.


I am about to go into Fourth Year at the University of Edinburgh, meaning that 2015 is when I graduate. It’s when I get my first full-time graduate job. Or not. It’s when I buy a car. Or not. It’s when my dreams come true. Or not.

You see the problem.

I may not have arithmophobia, but there are a few other fears that seem to be emerging for me.


Fear of missing out

I’ve always known the year I would graduate, but now that it’s almost here, I’m suddenly overwhelmed to take part in as many societies as possible, sit in the library at odd times of day and spark a university romance.

To try and combat these feelings getting in the way of my all-important final year, I’m looking back at all the experiences I’ve had, and seeing if I can tie in any of these desires into what I need to achieve this year.

Sitting in the library is never a bad thing, especially in 4th year.


Fear of failure

I can go days without thinking about my final year, about graduation, about the aforementioned impending doom, but then this gives me another worry – am I worried enough?

Are other people far more organised than me, and I am in fact one of the slackers? Are there grad schemes to be applying to, CV tips to know, people to be ‘reaching out’ to, that I’m too lazy to have even considered?

Will all this make me a failure?

I find that to help ease this fear, simplification is key. I update my CV as soon as something has changed, so that anything I've done is all there, in black and white (with accents of red). I've made a list of anything I would like to have done by this time next year. This helps narrow down what I need to research so that I don't get information overload. It's a simple list, but it provides a guiding thought to prevent the fear of failure turning into full blown panic. 


Fear of not knowing

The pressure I feel is practically tangible at times. There is an incredibly large to-do list hanging over your head, the contents of which are partially obscured.

My evenings are spent clarifying this to-do list, which has caused me to go into planning overdrive.

I have been downloading everything I can on writing a dissertation, graduate schemes, YouTube tutorials, lists of things I absolutely must do before I graduate. 

I even have a giant, colour coded, wipe clean wall calendar.

It's clearly taken over slightly, but I think this may be one fear that I think I’ll embrace. Even though it’s time consuming, seeing everything laid out in front of you is rather calming.

Where once I was in a dark forest, at least now I have a highlighter covered map to get me through it.


This time next year, it will be 2015 and I will have graduated. I'm determined not only to conquer my fears, but to use them to my advantage to inspire me to work harder and do better. I want all the worrying, all the fear, to have truly paid off.

Above all, I can’t help but feel excited for all the possibilities ahead. Who knows - according to Back to the Future 2, we might even have hover boards to look forward to.


Do you have any advice for getting through final year pressure? Tell us in the comments below! 

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