Released into the Wild
Two and a half months ago I graduated from Glasgow University with first class honours in English Literature. If you asked me six months ago how optimistic I was about my prospects, I’d have said with a mediocre amount of integrity: “fairly.” Since graduating, however, I’ve had to reconcile myself to a few realities that in an ideal world, I’d have been able to avoid.
The first of these was when I moved back in with my mum. In my head I told myself that this phase would last at most a month, and I’m still here. The main reason for this is that when applying for jobs it takes several weeks for applications to process, then, if the application is successful, another week or so to get to interview, add another week onto that to hear the result, and at that stage I might know whether or not I’ve made it to the second round of interviews. Then the process starts again, and quickly appears interminable.
The second was when I signed up for Job Seekers. I did this to avoid spending any more of my savings and to avoid borrowing from my mother, another reality I thought I’d be able to avoid and that really didn’t last long. The Job Centre is a tedious place, there’s no other way to describe it. In filling out the online application I had to type in the word ‘Graduate’ because the drop-down box didn’t list that option, and then I attended an interview where I was told the importance of going through all the processes that I’ve already been going through in an attempt to find work. I was then informed that I’d have to come back every two weeks to ‘sign on’, and that after six months my efforts would be reviewed. This forecast was given like a sentence in a court of law:
“I find the defendant, unemployed.”
I tried to point out that I fully intend to have a job within six months, at which point my judge said “Oh yes, of course,” as if she’d forgotten that unemployed was not my ideal state, and that I’m not just applying like crazy because they’re poking me with the patronising stick.
At this stage I can say with confidence that my prospects are still fairly good, but fairly good looks very different on this side of the graduation fence. For a start I feel like I’ve been pushed out of the sanctuary into the wild, and instead of racing forth into the wilderness like a tiger discovering its natural habitat for the first time, I’ve been skirting the perimeter fence attempting to find the safest possible path forward. When it comes to the food chain I’m definitely a frightened rabbit right now.
When the reality hit home that I’ve been well and truly institutionalized, it was a sad moment. Visions of the cuckoo’s nest floated before my eyes and I gazed out of Plato’s cave blinking in the sunlight… or maybe that was because I’d been at University in Glasgow and then moved back to the sunny south coast of England. Either way, now I have the not-small task of setting myself up as an institution in my own right, of becoming my own safety net and security, and these things take time to bring about.