I read a really interesting article the other day about joblessness for Generation Y and it made me feel a little less pathetic about my whole existence. All my life I thought I’ve done everything right. I did all the exams I was told to do and got pretty good grades if you don’t include my inability to use a protractor– although I can say it in German, it’s winkelmesser. I took a language for my GCSE and opted for full course ICT because apparently it’s useful to know MS Excel. My mother always brings up how my Year 7 English teacher said that if I didn’t study literature at university it would be ‘a travesty’. I’m not sure how someone can tell that about a person at age eleven, but there you go. So I took both English subjects at A Level, stayed at my school’s sixth form instead of going to a proper college, because the adults told me too. Alarm bells started to ring when I got an A* in my Media Studies coursework that maybe English wasn’t -the one for me-, but the adults said differently so my UCAS application was filled out with books instead of television. Every university I applied to accepted me, this was a good thing, right? I was wanted? So off to university I went and three years later I got my degree. Yay.
Only I graduated in July 2013, and it’s now March 2014. I’m living with my parents and I’ve had more job rejections than I could possibly count (although I’ve had even more companies just completely ignore me). Every good grade I’ve ever gotten, every extracurricular activity I took because ‘it’ll pay off in the future’, every time I listened to the grownups about why it was important for me to know how to times something by N; all of it apparently meant nothing. What you need now, they’re saying, is experience. When I’m hunched over my computer scouring through job websites and see ‘entry level’ or ‘graduate role’, my heart begins to flutter. Click on the link, open the page, two years experience. Where between starting school as a little tiny child, my GCSEs, A Levels, and a degree was I supposed to find the time to get a job? This isn’t Hogwarts, I don’t have a Time-Turner. Although I am starting to regret not buying one when I saw them in a gift shop in Oxford.
I know that I’m not adding anything to the discussion here, and that there are probably six thousand other blog entries from people just like me. But it is a little daunting to think about the future, when every choice I’ve made so far was apparently the wrong one. A lot of people who graduated with me are in the same situation, but they’re hiding behind the productivity of working in retail during the day and gorging themselves on job websites by night. Something which seems significantly less depressing than being rejected from the Costa Coffee that knows your order before you even open your mouth. I’d take a job over an iced soy latte any day. A lot of people made the smart move of studying to be a teacher after university, but it’s definitely not the life for me. I didn’t even like children when I was one of them, I can’t imagine spending my entire life surrounded by them. Admittedly Waterloo Road does make it seem exciting, but in the same way that Legally Blonde makes me wish I studied law whenever I watch it. Which is a lot.
Whenever people ask me what I do for a living, I say I’m a struggling artist. It means I get to avoid that little sympathetic half smile they give you when you answer with ‘actually, I’m unemployed right now’. I’m never going to run off to Paris, live in a squat, and create expressionist paintings for a living. But I do want to create. Seeing that finished product that I helped to devise is something I need to feel validated. It’s why I could never work in admin, and why all the large variety of jobs I’ve applied for involve the right side of my brain. Until I write the world’s next great novel, I’m hoping I’ll maybe get to run somebody’s Twitter account for a living. But like I said, the media actually addressing the problems Millennials are facing is a little comforting. I still can’t help feeling like a waste of space, or that I’m never going to amount to anything, but at least I’ll be alongside other pessimistic and disillusioned twentysomethings whilst I do it. I just have to stop taking it all so personally, that every rejection email is an attack on my life choices. But not too much, of course. A good dose of self deprecation is all part of a healthy balanced diet.
Hopefully I’ll get a job soon and be able to move out and start being a real life grownup. But until that happens, I have a lot more whiney unemployed blogposts left in me yet. You can’t escape me that easily.