Winter is coming.
And so is the onslaught of deadlines that mark the last year of university.
I have found myself thinking almost daily about the prospect of life after this chapter is (hopefully) completed. I can envision cool events like my friends’ weddings or results days for my cousins who I picture growing up to be fine, fresh and fabulous feminists following their dreams. I know I’ll be picking up copies of my coursemates’ books in Waterstones and my GoodReads account will be have 1000+ titles in the Read category. I can even imagine how the newspapers will look when Jeremy Corbyn miraculously finds himself prime minister and saviour to the non-racist, work-driven, humanist British people.
The hardest thing for me to picture is who I’ll be in five years’ time. If my nose will be even more broken. Whether I’ll wind up doing a Masters. Where I’ll end up working. If I’ll have enough money to live in my own flat. Whether I’ll be an investigative journalist or on stage not feeling like I need to puke anymore. If I’ll be happy.
When uni finishes, there’s no step-by-step manual. When uni finishes, there’s just freedom. Having spent the majority of our years so far locked up in compulsory education, the idea of being free to own yourself and develop your own career is pretty damned sweet (and disorientating too).
We’ve received advice as to where we can go next and how we can get there in our work placement module sessions. The impression I got from the two-hour sessions that plagued us for a term is that, ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’ is literally the basis to success in the future. Oh and also that our jobs are being taken by technology, not immigrants. The amount of times I heard about our future careers being automated is unreal- the picture painted for us English Lit students was kind of dystopian, like The Hunger Games and 1984 mixed together. Being constantly told that your role in the future is likely to be redundancy and that your chosen field is laughable can be quite demoralising but for some, including weirdly myself, it’s the ultimate motivational push.
Work placement sessions were useful but also brought to the surface an overwhelming sense of being super small in proportion to the wide world waiting at the end of the degree. We were given some internet links and had chats about how we can market ourselves efficiently as candidates that the industry would appreciate. The internet helps- LinkedIn was plugged religiously as the tool to take us right to the top and we spent ages having to fix up our profiles. The art of selling oneself has never really been my forte but I put in extra effort to practice my creative writing skills and dressed up my mediocre self as a fantastic person on paper and screen. So I guess that’s one weapon to attack the future with.
I gathered that bridging the gap between graduation and employment is in our hands and our hands only- I’m both excited as well as scared shitless about this. There’s an assurance in that you don’t feel as though you’re being filed off into an office department for the next twenty years, yet the sheer amount of possibilities waiting out there makes it so that, for the indecisive amongst us, your eyes can’t quite focus on one path. Plus, the recent referendum and Brexit shitstorm have broadened the horizon to new shores. I’ve been considering all sorts of ventures just because I can, things that I enjoy- journalism, screenwriting, freelance singing, travelling, teaching etc. A degree won’t be enough to get me anywhere in the aforementioned careers but you bet your ass I will be taking on as many internships and experiences as I can handle in order to get me to where I need to be.
I accepted a while ago that I’m likely to be surviving as a tormented bohemian, working a job to support the dream, and I’m more resigned to this than ever before. The point is, I’m not going to give up on the things I love and the infantile dreams I’ve grown up with. I want to write and so that’s what I’m going to do.
If I have to be the generic bargirl stealing extra tips with spontaneous jazz vocals on jam night then so be it. I would rather tend to sticky soles on black pumps and alcohol drenched clothes than peel myself out of a facade, detesting my reflection. I figure that as long as I can sustain myself, it would be a massive waste of time to just settle for a life as opposed to actually be engaged in living one.
So for now I’m burying my head in the reading list for the upcoming year, sending my CV off to every place I can find and collecting up snapshots for the moodboard of my future.
I hope you’re ready for me, world.