You were all ready to be university’s boss. Things started out well – but then, the unthinkable happened and now you’re back at square one. Whether you were forced to drop out or quit, you’re most likely feeling a bit confused and fragile. But before you hide under your blankets and vow never to talk to anyone ever again, hear this: You are not the first person for whom their studies haven’t gone to plan – and you definitely won’t be the last. And while you may feel completely blindsided by your new circumstances, you’re not a failure for being here. In fact, many well-known entrepreneurs, business owners and happy employees didn’t graduate college and still carved out a fulfilling life path.
Here are ten things you can do to rebound faster and get your life back on track:
That’s right: in and out, in and out. If you start to feel panicky, bring yourself back to the present moment. While it might sound too simple and plain silly, times of unrest and change are perfect moments to practice mindfulness. Being mindful, or being aware of your thoughts in the present, keeps you centered, calms you and stops that monkey mind from running in a thousand directions at once.
2. Take stock of what you’ve learned
Even if you didn’t graduate, your time at university gave you a bunch of skills. Think back to when you started and how clueless you probably felt. And now? Well, you’ve learned to live away from home. Break the ice by talking to strangers. Plan your time. Research and find information. Cook for yourself. Navigate a new city. And so many other things. These are all achievements to feel great about!
3. Hit the road
Get out that passport – the world is waiting. Traveling lets you escape regular life, removes you from your family and friends’ questions about what happened to your studies and allows you to experience other cultures, foods, landscapes and ways of life. But where should you go? Find inspiration in blogs, on social media, by talking to friends, scribbling ideas on a piece of paper or simply spinning a globe and stopping it randomly. There is truly no greater reset button than a few weeks (or months!) away.
4. Learn a language
Studying at university takes commitment and time. While right now it wasn’t possible for you to dedicate yourself to your university studies, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of committing to something else. Learning a language is a great way to use the time you now have for the better, while also planning for your future. By taking a class, you’ll meet new people, give yourself purpose, rediscover discipline and learn an incredible new skill that can be applied to future study and employment. An even more super-charged step is to combine language learning and travel by taking a course overseas. As for which language to study: Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, German, and French are all excellent options.
5. Learn anything!
Photography, cooking, coding, graphic design, sewing, carpentry, painting, rock climbing, surfing, music, the list goes on. Take a class in something – anything! – to pick up your spirits, regain confidence and challenge yourself with something new. Who knows? You might discover a new passion in the process.
6. Dust off an old hobby
In the crush of secondary school and university, our hobbies are often set aside in favor of assignments and exam preparation. This is completely understandable, however, a life without interests outside of study and work can be dull. You now have time to fill. Revisiting an old hobby can be a great way to use your time to relax, regroup and dream up possibilities for the future.
7. Start a small business
All this class-taking and hobby-revisiting will likely get your creativity flowing! Why not harness that energy and combine it with a dash of entrepreneurial skill? Wham! You’re the proud new owner of a brand new small business idea! Whether your idea involves freelancing, selling handmade goods, event planning or something entirely different, there are hundreds of blogs and online communities out there that can help you define your angle and outline the steps to find customers. It won’t necessarily be quick, but with time and dedication you could find yourself working part or even full-time for yourself!
Find purpose and feel proud of yourself by volunteering your time to a worthy cause. Because there’s no shortage of charities and aid organizations needing support, choosing which to volunteer for is your first task. Start by considering what you feel passionate about. It could be animal rights, the environment, education, ending poverty or finding a cure for a disease. Volunteers can find opportunities in their own city, country or across the seas. Some postings even call for long-term commitment, meaning you could find yourself living and volunteering in another country for several weeks or months.
9. Find a part-time job
Earning money increases feelings of independence, which in turn increases self-esteem. Polish off your CV (be sure to include the skills you gathered at university, any volunteer positions you’ve held or societies you belonged to) and go get ‘em. Depending on the type of work you’re looking for, you can apply via recruitment agencies or in person. Bonus tip: When looking for a position in hospitality or retail, most managers appreciate the effort it takes to walk in the store and introduce yourself.
10. Talk to a career counselor
If you start to feel like you’d like to return to university, consider visiting a career counselor first. They’ll help define your future goal and decide on a course of study that you’ll enjoy. It’s never too late to start over!