My name is Hollie-Anne, Iʼm 23, in my last year of a degree and I am fucking terrified. Heading back to university last month to start my third and final year felt good. After a summer of working and interning, I was ready to sharpen my Hello Kitty pencils and get back into good old education.

After several years on the course, including a re-sit year, I feel confident this year would go OK. Iʼd seen friends make it through and graduate this summer and now they were working for the likes of LʼOreal. Yup, I could do this.

But Oh My God I am having a bloody breakdown.

Keep Calm & Finish Your Thesis

Thereʼs something about knowing youʼve got seven months left of a degree that scares the shit out of you. Iʼve never been the most academic girl in the world and like to think my freelancing makes up for the fact Iʼll end up with a high 2:2. But Iʼm now waking up panicking in the night at the thought of not getting a 2:1. Iʼm imagining being the last in the queue at graduation because I got the lowest mark. Iʼm picturing giving up on my dreams.

Iʼm not going to lie, Iʼm welling up with tears as I write this but Iʼm writing this because I think there are thousands of other young women in my position.

Iʼll be 24 when I graduate, the age my mum was when she gave birth to me. When I was little, 24 was the age when Iʼd be properly grown up and be a size 10 and have my own flat and a career as an author. Iʼm now lucky if I get my ass into size 18 jeans and bag a bit of freelance work.

Ideally, come June, Iʼll move into a flat share in London with one of my best friends and be working as a community manager/in an ace social media role. But what if no-one wants me? What if I canʼt afford rent and have to get a “normal” job? Again, what if I have to give up on my dreams?

I donʼt have the answers here. Iʼm not writing an article on how to keep calm and carry on but what I am saying to all young women in a similar boat is – OH MY GOD, I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL! And sometimes thatʼs all it takes to put a smile back on our faces.

Women in their early 20s have far more pressure on them than our mumʼs generation did. Weʼre going after jobs where we have to intern unpaid for a year before we can consider applying, weʼre struggling to pay rent and weʼre battling holding down university/careers with trying to juggle a relationship or dating. Itʼs hard, I know itʼs hard.

So as part of my plan to stop myself waking up in the middle of the night sobbing about working in Aldi, Iʼm going to try and cut myself some slack, and so should you.

I now vow once a week to write down all the ace things an employer might see in me (writing for Team Tea, enthusiasm, creativity…) and Iʼm also going to do something that makes me feel confident about the future. Perhaps a bubble bath calms you? Or playing Boggle with your BFF? Perhaps cross stitch is your thing or maybe screaming “FUCK YOU, DISSERTATION!” will make you feel better?

For every woman (and fella) currently going through their third year and wondering what the hell is going to happen post University, I want you to know something. You are ace. Youʼll be fine. I promise.

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