I was mired in post-university blues. Then I returned to an old hobby - doodling

Everyone wants a bit of time to relax after their undergrad. But here’s how to hold on to your purpose

Priyong Sabastini
Published : 21 May 2023, 01:58 PM
Updated : 21 May 2023, 01:58 PM

The ‘post-university blues’ is one of the most natural and common phenomena ever experienced by studentkind. 

Ignore it as much as you want; it eventually creeps up on every young adult transitioning into adulthood. Yet, when we finally reach that phase ourselves, it feels like the most overwhelmingly dull and inescapable slump of our lives. Unfortunately, we are the only people who can help us out of this situation. We must decide for ourselves what to do next, which is undoubtedly the hardest decision to make. 

Like any significant life decision, a certain waiting period is usually par for the course. That being said, waiting is a very slippery slope, where we can go from taking a well-deserved post-undergrad break to complete overindulgence.

So, how do we handle this ambiguous transitional time? 

As someone currently going through these trials and tribulations, I suggest relaxing with a purpose. 

For the last 1.5 years of my undergraduate life, I overworked and, in the process, began to forget the parts of myself that existed beyond work and university little by little. 

Before I started undergrad, I was very passionate about making art. I’m no Pablo Picasso in the making, but drawing kept my mind clear. However, with studies and socialisation draining my energy, large-scale art projects on cartridge paper became too challenging to consider. So I moulded my hobby to something more bite-sized and manageable – doodling. 

I started small, doing pen sketches off the internet for fun. It seemed very ordinary until one day when a friend asked to keep one of my pieces. I was surprised. I never thought my doodles were worth a second glance, really. But this minor hobby became very special when I began to use my friends for inspiration. 

I could draw characters that resembled them, things that reminded me of our friendship, illustrate their interests or doodle something to show how they defined my life. 

Amid the chaos of undergrad, this hobby never had a chance to properly blossom. But, after graduation, when I was deep in a slump of doing nothing and wondering why my life was in limbo, I realised I had two choices. I could continue my bottomless pit of self-induced misery or rediscover myself by doing something I loved. 

So, once again, I took up my pen and started to doodle. My first project was a series of character drawings from anime and cartoons to commemorate my three best friends who inspired me to be the best version of myself throughout university. 

There were a million activities I could have focused on to get me out of my negative headspace. Still, I chose to doodle because it reminded me that I was more than my degree. I am more than my ability to read dense academic literature, decipher its meaning, and churn out paper after paper. 

Doodling reminded me of myself. It helped me rediscover myself and remember the things I liked doing. And it helped pull me out of my rut by bringing in some much-needed perspective. 

Finishing university might be the start of the worries of adult life. But it is essential to remember who you are beyond your academics. Reigniting old passions in the time you have is always a good idea.

Before we dive deep into a major life event like joining the workforce or continuing higher studies, it is essential to understand who we are, double-check our priorities, and internalise our aspirations. Doodling has helped me to marinate in the actual process of thinking about the future and eased me into researching what I can realistically do.

It will always be tempting to delay difficult turning points in our lives, but we have to make decisions sooner or later. And, to my surprise, doodling has given me the insight and courage to take on that challenge. 

This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.