Post-school depression

School is quite possibly one of the most important time periods in one’s life. Most notably because you have many different stages in school, from kindergarten to college. And it’s a time of both highs and lows which more or less determines the field you’ll be working in once you’re done. I say more or less because in this day and age, people can change working areas much easier than in the past and the profile of your school has diminished in importance.

While on the loveable World Wide Web, I’ve noticed that some people claim to have lost their happiness and or sense of direction once school was over. And even if they didn’t, they still long for the days when they were students. Of course, some responsible (read BORING) adults might say that it’s merely because, while in school, you have very little responsibility and very little to care about, apart from exams, dating partners, latest music trends etc. Those same adults fail to see, in my book, that there might be more to it than that. And I’m going to try and give you 5 reasons as to why people miss school:

1. Their field of work is not what they were told it was

You know what I mean. When you wanted to become a software developer, all you had in mind was how you’re going to revolutionize the programming industry and be the next Bill Gates, only to find yourself trying to work through decades old code (no, I ACTUALLY mean decades, not a mistake there…believe me, I know) to figure out what in the world is causing that ridiculous bug the client wants solved yesterday. It kind of depresses you to see all the hard work you’ve put in to get your diploma and/or grades, only to end up doing pointless and meaningless work.

2. The sense of accomplishment and purpose is all but gone

When you’re in school, you know WHY you are in school. You know WHY you do it. It’s so you can get a diploma at the end of it so you can then have an easier time in getting a job so you can provide for yourself and your family. So any and all hardships you endure are for a greater purpose, which you KNOW and actually want to achieve.

But once school is over and you get a job, you’ll more often than not find that the work you put in…has no real purpose whatsoever. It doesn’t really matter how many times you hear the phrase “’cause the customer said so, man”, you won’t find motivation in doing what you do if you can’t associate it to a higher purpose. And it won’t matter how many tasks you mark as done in JIRA either.

3. Coworkers will never be your friends

Sure, some people end up in a place where their coworkers are actually decent people. I am working in such a place right now, where, given the fact that we aren’t a big corporation, you get to bond with people much more than in a large company. But for most others, going to work is essentially them having to spend 8 hours doing something they vaguely enjoy while being surrounded by people with whom they don’t really have much in common. It’s very rare that you actually end up in a team of people that have similar interests. In school, whether you were with 1, 2 or 10 friends, you had similar interests and similar tastes and you could behave more naturally, since the people you were surrounded by had similar life values and/or hobbies. Your work relatinoships tend to be way more forced and unnatural.

And no amount of forced company values and/or team buildings will help solve that issue.

4. You don’t get to spend as much time with your actual friends

An extension of the previous one, but you get what I mean. If by some miracle you actually work in the same company as your school friends, then consider yourself lucky, but the chances for that are very slim. And while I and so many others still keep in touch with old friends, it’s still not the same as hanging with them and facing challenges together.

5. Lack of predictability and closure

School is predictable. You go to class, write down what the teacher says (or record or whatever), then go home and prepare for the next day by doing homework. And save for the odd pop quiz, it’s pretty much the same, year in, year out. And sometimes, predictability is good, because it allows us to be prepared for what is coming.

When you graduate, things tend to get unpredictable really fast. Because while your job may seem secure now, you never know when the company you’re working for hits a crisis, or when it needs to downsize, or when your boss might become an outright prick and fire you. And this might cause some people to work with the blade of the sword right upside their head, which inevitably leads to stress and a lack of a will to live.

Also, work never ends. There is a beginning, but there seems to be no end to the project you’re working at. And for some, me included, closure is important. It’s a very good feeling to see the project I’ve been working on go live and get used by people. But save for one, and even that one for a small company, which is being used by 5 or 6 people, if it still exists…

So yeah, these are my thoughts about why this post school depression might appear. I don’t think I’ve suffered from this, at least not that bad. I don’t think people actually miss school. People usually miss the idea of school. The idea of working alongside their friends in order to surpass seemingly insurmountable challenges. And the idea of celebrating that success once the challenges are over.

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