Grads of the UK is an Instagram project and series of articles run by graduates, for graduates. We are documenting what being a millennial in 2017 is really like, with honest stories about life after university.
Every week we hand over our Instagram account to a new grad and share their unique story here on GradTouch. This week, drama graduate Bethany Givvons-Collinge is taking over.
You can read Bethany's story below, and see more daily insights into her life since uni by following @gradsoftheuk on Instagram.
My uni life was a busy, but thoroughly enjoyable, blur.
On my drama course at the University of Huddersfield I was surrounded by like-minded creatives; we crafted stories and made art every day. I adored it.
I have loved performing for as long as I can remember, but as graduation rolled around I became increasingly apprehensive. It was slowly dawning on me how tough the acting world, post-education, was going to be. My rose-tinted bubble had popped and I was left feeling as though I was being pushed out of a plane without a parachute.
I planned to get a couple of part-time jobs and go to as many auditions as possible. But just a month or so after I finished my course, I was offered a full-time job at the traffic management company my dad worked for.
There was a certain pressure to take it – which graduate would turn down a stable job with a decent salary for something as unsure as acting? So I accepted the job. It wouldn’t be for long though. I’d stay for six months to get some money behind me and then I’d get straight back to ‘making it’ as an actress.
That was a year and a half ago and I’m still with the same company, as a CAD (Computer-aided design) Technician.
Now, when I scroll through social media I feel nothing but FOMO (fear of missing out). Everyone I know seems to be travelling, working abroad or on their way to making their performance dreams a reality. Meanwhile, I’m stuck in a draughty porta-cabin on an industrial estate, feeling my own dreams move further into the distance.
I’ve tried applying for jobs with fewer hours, but seem to get nowhere due to a lack of experience. I have spent the last 6 months feeling like a failure - at my lowest since my mum died when I was in my final year of A-Levels.
During a catch-up with a friend recently, I decided to bring up my worries, desperate for someone to talk to. She’s a freelance photographer and has just opened her own studio. To me, she’s living the creative dream – actively pursuing her passion and making a living from her art. But she didn’t react the way I expected when I brought up my concerns.
“You look like you’re having so much fun though! Your Instagram makes me so jealous!” She told me.
My Instagram is pretty similar to that of any twenty-something: selfies, photos from nights out, throwbacks to shows I’ve been in and lots of pictures of my dogs. You wouldn’t know I’d spent the past six months living under a dark cloud, struggling to force myself out of bed.
And then it clicked. Of course I’m plagued by the worry that everyone else is ‘making it’ without me
My friend who is pursuing acting isn’t going to post about struggling to make rent this month, or about all the jobs she didn’t get before the one she landed. No one wants to appear like they’re failing. We sugar-coat our lives, exposing only what makes us look like we’re succeeding.
At 23-years-old, with no mortgage and dependents, now is the perfect time to take a risk and run head-first after my dreams. But my fear of failure has made me my own saboteur.
With careers in the arts in particular, I think there’s always that little niggle of doubt that tells you what you’re doing isn’t valid. I am so terrified of failing and giving people a chance to say “I told you so,” that I’m stopping myself before I’ve even had the chance to try.
As this Grads of the UK project proves, everyone’s experience of life after uni is different.
Though it’ll be near-impossible, I’ve resolved to try and stop judging myself based on what it appears other people are doing. More importantly, I want to stop holding myself back from actively pursuing my goals for fear of people seeing me fail.
I’m sure many arts grads experience this fear of failure and I don’t know what the magical cure for it is, but I’m setting myself smaller, less risky targets. In an attempt to shake myself out of my rut, I’ve booked a trip to America – alone.
There’s part of me hoping that by making my dream of travelling America come to fruition, it’ll help reignite my confidence and restore faith in myself. I’m hoping that doing something that really scares me personally by travelling alone, I’ll return with more courage to do other things that scare me – like saying: “I want to be an actress and I’m going to throw everything I can at making it happen”.
Funding the trip means I’m working harder and longer hours. I’ve taken a part-time job alongside the full-time one to help pay for it. But something feels different. I feel like I have something meaningful to look forward to, a goal to work towards.
I’m a long way from achieving my dreams, but I feel as though I’m readying myself to take my next baby steps towards them. For me, 2017 is all about loosening the hold this fear of failure has on me and turning it into a catalyst to spur me forward. It’s about learning to care less about how other people see me going for it as an actress and potentially falling on my face in the process. And it’s about focusing less on the inadequacy that other people’s apparent success on social media makes me feel, and focusing on my own goals and happiness.
Bethany is running the @gradsoftheuk Instagram until Friday 17th February.