After completing a full-time, year long post graduate degree I felt that I needed a break. But I also felt that the break shouldn’t last very long, that I should attempt to be a real adult by getting a job. When people asked me what I did I would say, ‘I’ve just finished my Masters,’ which seemed to be an effective way of deflecting any initial judgements that I wasn’t doing anything. Having this conversational shield was vital as I was completely powerless to the question, and the only thing I’d be able to muster would be a vague line about looking for opportunities or something.
As the months go by, my tried and tested line of, ‘I’ve just finished my Masters’ starts to lose its legitimacy and relevance. I have a flash forward to ten years time when I’m telling someone in a pub that ‘I’ve recently come out of a post graduate degree,’ in the same manner, and with the same intentions that I might use ‘I’ve just come out of a relationship’ as an excuse to stop dating someone. My fear is that people will start to clock on to the fact that I haven’t adapted to reality, that I’m not a real adult.
Now, when people ask me what I do I tell them that I’m a Job Applicant. I’ve renounced any aspect of my personality to apply for jobs full time, because that’s what it takes. I spend hours typing and retyping my education and employment history into the boxes of application forms, trying to emphasise how it’s always been my dream to work in admin, to be a library assistant, to sell deerstalker hat pens at the Sherlock Holmes museum. Absurd as it sounds, at the end of the day I feel like I’ve achieved something, somewhat content that I can tick that admin assistant job off my application to do list. As I reach for yet another chocolate digestive, I try and shake away the gnawing feeling that it all means nothing, that what I’ve spent the whole day doing will amount to nothing, and all I’ll have to show for it are the crumbs on my jumper.
October Part 2
I’ve worked out that there’s a science to applying for jobs, which I refer to as ‘Schrodinger’s App.’ This theory states that when one sends off a job application into the ether, it is both successful and unsuccessful at the same time. The attachment, unopened, is full of hope that you might get an interview, but opening it invites the possibility that it’s an unsuccessful application. The only real option is to not open the attachment, to keep the hope alive – either way, you don’t get the job.
I managed to get a part-time job leafleting for a local charity book shop. I don’t have a uniform or anything so I just look like a bloke in tartan trousers going from door to door, poking people’s letter flaps. It pays below minimum wage, but I still do it because I feel like I’m in no position to turn it down, and apparently having employment gaps in your CV is like having the plague to prospective employers.
Miraculously, the other day I got an interview for a job I actually want, so I’ve been spending the week preparing for it. The thing is, I can’t help but apply Schrodinger’s App theory to this situation, and as much as I’m clinging on to hope that I’ll get the job, there is the possibility that I won’t, and all my prep would have amounted to nothing. These thoughts are coupled with the anxiety that time is running out, and as I rapidly approach my 30s, I can’t afford to lose a single day in the struggle to get a job and be a real adult. So, in taking all of this into account, my new daily routine involves hopping back and forth through time – preparing for the interview, then looking and applying for other jobs as a contingency plan, and walking around south west London for eight hours poking letter flaps so I can afford to buy more chocolate digestives to fuel this cycle. I admit that the idea of this routine has more plot holes than Terminator Genisys, but it seems like the only way that I can prepare for my judgment day – when I stand before someone I’ve just met and they ask me what I do.