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Graduating with a master’s degree did not bring the expected train of emotions but it did remove all structure from her life, Padmini Manivannan experiences.

Graduating with a master’s degree did not bring the expected train of emotions but it did remove all structure from her life, Padmini Manivannan experiences.

It might be a little ironic that I write about finishing graduate school just as the new academic year starts. But everyone is at different stages in life and I guess we enrich each other with our combined experiences.

I always thought graduating with a master’s degree would bring about big emotions in me. Curiously, it didn’t. My professor said, “It is a big moment in your life.” I thought this train of emotions would hit me soon enough. But my little moment of gleeful elation came a week later when he sneaked me a TU Delft graduate hat from the secretary’s room because I didn’t receive it in my graduation package along with the diploma and goody bag. Curious. I guess I have managed to seamlessly connect one moment in life with the next, one phase blending in with the next while appreciating the little things in between.  

It is a wholly different feeling when all structure is removed from your life and you are left to your own devices. Now that I look back, my entire life has had a structure and a plan. I knew what I was doing and what I wanted to do next. Everything had its time and place. And then suddenly, mystifyingly, it didn’t. I know the logical next step is looking for an engaging job, but while I look for it, I suddenly have all this time that has not been pre-structured for me. A good friend once told me, “Don’t try to avoid the hole that comes after a period of intense work, embrace it.” And I sort of understand what he meant when he said ‘hole’. It is a slippery slope that you can fall into and you never know where it is going it lead you, but it is going somewhere. Like your personal Alohomora from Harry Potter; opening a door and not exactly knowing where it will lead. Like a period of nothingness but also an opportunity to explore everything. Engaging in the presenthood of the in-betweens that you don’t yet know what to do with.

I also realised that it probably isn’t going to be one big train of feelings that will hit you but more of something in pieces. It is a good opportunity to sort out your thoughts. I am faced with a flurry of emotions, now that I have time to process it. I try to sift through them carefully, picking up the ones that I hope would provide some meaning, possibly a mirror to my current self. You can let ideas stew and take shape and become a cohesive whole. In my case, especially after getting off the structured course, I feel the need for that academic stimulation and seek things that provide that.

So while I embrace this period, I read more and write some more, paint and draw nooks of Delft and catch up with some interesting people, enjoying my little moments of happiness in this period of in-betweens.

Padmini Manivannan recently graduated from the Master Signals and Systems at TU Delft and hails from Chennai, India. She loves doodling in her free time.

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