Where’s My Post-Grad Life Handbook?


Anaam Ikram Career ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Suitcase full to the brim. Boxes packed, taped and shipped off. Closets empty and shelves bare. The room looked so empty and somehow seemed smaller; maybe because my luggage was lying in the centre and was covering the floor. The next person who comes to make this room their home for four years will never even know I was here.

My presence was packed away in bags to be sent back to my ‘real’ home, where my family lives: Bahrain. A place I’ve called home for around 12 years now. A place where my high school memories will always come to life as soon as I set foot there – even though high school seems light years away. A tiny island (barely visible on the map) connected to Saudi Arabia by the Causeway Bridge. We moved to Bahrain from Saudi Arabia when I was 13, and since then, it has been my home. Now, after four years at university, I was moving back home for good.

I had always been a little skeptical about moving back home, but then I would think to myself “it’s my home, why wouldn’t I want to move back?” The idea was exciting and I actually looked forward to spending time at home with my family, who I knew (and hoped) had missed me dearly while I was away. The semester-break trips back home had never really cut it for them. I was ready for this new adventure in my life. Though at first, I didn’t settle in properly since I was to travel back to the UAE soon after, for my graduation ceremony. It was once I returned after the graduation celebrations, that I realised what it really meant to be back home.

Initially, wherever I’d go, I’d have to make my brother take me: I didn’t have a license for the first few months after moving back. Having it now means I need him as my co-pilot since I’m not an experienced driver yet. This meant I could only go out when he was available. Leaving the house was also accompanied with an interrogation. I wasn’t used to being investigated like a criminal, but most of all, I didn’t know why I was being treated this suspiciously in the first place. I am an adult. I’m fairly responsible. And just like that, I was a high-schooler all over again. The truth is, I had been away from home for so long I had forgotten what it was like to live with my parents again.
It wasn’t out of the ordinary that I had a curfew or that I had to contribute to household chores; these were things I dealt with in the dorms too. It was different at home. My parents needed to know my whereabouts all the time, so they wouldn’t worry. It was strange: having to be worried about. I felt like I was in a funk. A frustrating funk I could not get out of. I realised I needed to get myself out of the misery I had put myself in, from not having my friends around constantly for a fun night out or a cosy, gossip-filled night in. I decided I needed to make a change.

Being unemployed, of course, didn’t help either – nothing distracting you or keeping you busy. Yes, it absolutely drives you to the brink of insanity – but having all this free time gave me some time and space to work on myself. Going to the gym, filtering out people from my life, and weekly catch ups with one of my greatest friends from school (who moved back too), helping out at home and spending time with family made me realise how lucky I am to have these people who are here for me, even after all this time.
I got time to work on myself physically and somewhat spiritually. I learned to be patient and appreciate the caring [yet still incredibly inquisitive] nature of my parents. I learned to use this time productively to work on my writing (so I don’t get rusty) and find work in Bahrain so I don’t waste daylight hours struggling to find something to fill the empty time slots.


Yes, being at home can be annoying because the freedom that you used to get, while away at university, suddenly shrinks. That is another hard change to get used to, but unfortunately, much like most of our life, post-graduate life does not come with a guideline or handbook. You kind of just see where things go as they happen for you. People around you seem to be doing better, excelling even, while you sit at home and wonder when it’s going to be your turn. That’s probably one of the worst things to do, compare yourself to everyone around you. Post-grad life wakes us up from the delusion that life works in a linear way. So, those of you stuck in a ‘rut’ like I used to think I was, our life path is different from everyone around us and our time will come, but it requires both patience and persistence.

We have been gifted this time to really work on ourselves and perhaps even pick up things we’ve been meaning to do but never really got around to: learn a new language or instrument, finally learn how to cook, hit the gym, learn how to salsa, spend an hour meditating or at the salon/spa; things we genuinely will and enjoy [satisfying things that you don’t need a salary for]. Appreciate this small window of time to grow as a person and look forward to the little things in life (like sleeping in till 10am!).

They may be small accomplishments now, but you’ll see their true value as time passes – I know I have. So, sit back and take it one day at a time. Work towards what you want to achieve but take this as a blessing rather than a setback and everything will start to fall into place!