I have two hangovers. One from too many drinks last night. The other from the rollercoaster of hope and expectation I’ve been riding on since the day I put on my first tiny school uniform. After seventeen years of studying, I guess you could say I’m a disillusioned, burnt out. Lost at the prospect of making my way through the world without the next year planned out with highlighters.
I have just graduated from a Bachelor of Journalism, but I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do now. I currently fill my time by walking the soul-crushing pathway of unemployment, experiencing rejection from potential jobs and hot guys at bars, watering my plants, having too-long showers, and feeling a kind of existential dread that questions the very core of who I am which can only be inspired by unemployment. Obviously this is not my ideal way of living, but without a work timetable or assessment schedule to give my life structure, I find myself struggling to live a responsible, productive adult life. It’s ironic because this is the point that everything has been leading up to.
In primary school, I looked forward to high school. In high school, I couldn’t wait to go to university. In university, I anticipated making it in the real world and having a career. But as I passed through each of these stages, I didn’t experience a growing sense of assuredness about my future prospects. And now that I’m at the end of my education, I feel like a vegan in a butchers shop. Confused, uncertain, a little scared, a little disgusted. This is what it’s all been leading up to?!
But this is where it becomes problematic when I compare myself to others and their achievements, which I do every day with the help of social media. Social media only shows the good times, not the moments of uncertainty or sadness or failure. I know this in my brain, yet I can’t help comparing myself to others. Now I find myself in a period of limbo, between my degree and my career. Floating on the coffee-stained wave of hospitality and Centrelink dependency and cheap hummus. Not exactly a highlight in my life.
But this period of inertia has taught me a valuable lesson. That becoming an adult doesn’t just happen. For most people in life, it takes struggle, persistence, and dedication to be in a place you want to be. My house won’t magically transform from a sharehouse with beer bottles and strange stains on the carpet to a townhouse with a puppy and a flower garden. I won’t go straight from a university graduate to a successful freelance journalist. My bank account can’t go from empty to full by magic. My life won’t be the life I want unless I make an effort to change it.
Maybe I should be patting myself on the back for making it this far. After all, the younger version of myself couldn’t wait to get to this stage. The “real world”, as they call it. I suppose what matters isn’t the fact that I’m unemployed, with a qualification that I don’t quite know how to put to use, but that I have a degree and that I’m trying to find a job.
If only they had classes on patience at university.