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Adapting to the 9-5 lifestyle

In this guest post, Holly has shared her thoughts on the 9-5 lifestyle and how to adapt to it after university.

It’s not easy to go from a 9 hour week to working 37+ hours, and no equivalent of skipping lectures. You shouldn’t ever feel alone if you’re struggling, as it is so difficult to change your lifestyle from a student to an employee and something we all have to do.

Here’s what Holly has shared about her experience so far!

People used to tell me that my university years would be the ‘best years of my life’. I didn’t listen. They also used to tell me that I was taking my student years for granted. I didn’t listen to that, either.

It’s now a year since I graduated from uni and began working full-time. And, much to their satisfaction, I admit that they were right. Whole-heartedly. I did take it for granted and I didn’t realise just how much fun I was having whilst I was there.

I was lucky to meet some of my best friends at uni. Friends that will no doubt last a lifetime. I also made some of the best memories doing some of the craziest things. Which again, will stay with me forever.

But what I really loved, and now miss, about uni was the lifestyle it gave me. 9am lecture? No thanks, I’ll just skip it and stay in bed. Finishing at 2 and heading straight to the pub with friends? That was a common occurrence. And working alongside my best friends every single day? Yes please.

See, whilst I was at uni, I didn’t think about that lifestyle ever changing. I was in the mindset that it would always be like that, in one way or another. As I stayed living at home whilst going to uni, I didn’t think that after I graduated, things would really change that much.

Holly's theatre thoughts - image shows woman graduating

But then I started work. I now work 9-5 in a full-time office job. And to say that adapting to my new lifestyle has been challenging would be an understatement! Because everything changes when you leave uni and start working. Your routine, your friendship circle, your social life, and your motivations. Having to deal with such a significant amount of change all at once is hard.

The first thing I’ve struggled with is finding that sense of achievement. When you’re at uni, you have so many assignments to hand in and you’re given back so many grades. And each time you pass a module, you get that feeling like you’ve accomplished something. You constantly feel like you’re learning something new and reaching the next level.

But when you’re at work, the results aren’t that obvious. You’re not given a pass or fail for the work that you do. Instead, you have to find gratification yourself and know when you’ve done a good job.

And dealing with that is somewhat complicated. Because all throughout your education, you’re working towards something. You work hard for your GCSEs so that you can go to sixth form. Then you want to ace your A Levels so you can get into uni. Then at uni, all you’re focused on is graduating with a good grade.

But what happens after that? When you don’t have any clear milestones to work towards? It can be tricky to find the motivation to keep going and to spark that ambition once again. And to me, it’s been really important to actively seek that out. Because having something to work towards spurs me on and keeps me motivated.

Then beyond that, being separated from your friends and not seeing them every day, is a struggle. You’re used to having them by your side through everything – the ups, the downs, the successes, and the disappointments. Then suddenly, you have to navigate a lot of those things on your own.

image shows a young woman smiling and holding her hair

Because with a 9-5 job, working Monday-Friday, it becomes a lot trickier to see one another. And social events have to be planned wayyyyy in advance, rather than just the night before (spontaneous plans were definitely the best kind of plans!)

Acquiring that new social life is tricky and is certainly a shock to the system. Whilst at uni, you’d have Student Night on a Tuesday, sports night on a Wednesday, and drinks with the girls on a Saturday. You were at the pub more than you were at home, and you’d always have something fun to look forward to.

It’s not that when you start work, all of that stops. It doesn’t – it just becomes harder to plan those events and coordinate everyone’s social diaries! It can often leave you feeling a bit alone, and certainly a bit bored with the routine of your new working life.

But I can safely say that the thing I’ve struggled with the most is thinking that I’m the only one that’s feeling like this. And the only one dealing with this emotional rollercoaster called growing up and adulting.

Now I know that that’s not the case. Everyone our age is going through the same thing. Everyone has those days where even going back to the library and studying sounds inviting!

Everyone’s in the same boat and you’re definitely not on your own. So don’t think that there’s nobody to talk to. Or that you shouldn’t be feeling the way you do. Because I’m here to reassure you that it’s totally normal!

Graduating from uni feels amazing and having that feeling like you’ve aced something is unbeatable. It’s the rollercoaster that comes after it that’s tricky and a challenge. But hey, what’s life if it doesn’t throw you a few curveballs every now and again?

Starting working life can be exciting and, whilst we’ll always miss our student years, we’ve still got some pretty exciting things to look forward to. And becoming a career-boss is certainly one of those things!i

It’s totally normal to feel hard done by for not realising how difficult growing up really is! Let’s keep this conversation going – let me know how you’ve coped with adapting to full-time work in the comments.

Thank you so much to Holly for sharing her thoughts on the change to the 9-5 lifestyle. If you’re feeling this way too, you’re definitely not alone.

If you’d like to check out Holly’s blog, you can find it here.

Head over to my homepage to find more advice and reflections on what it’s really like to be a graduate.

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