One day in 2013.
Today was a Monday. Quite the none starter.
Being quite a fresh MFA graduate, I still feel like an enclosed caterpillar of education waiting for the right time to burst free from my chrysalis into a beautiful life as a flourishing butterfly, where all hopes and dreams come true. (Yeah,right!)
Meanwhile my chrysalis is becoming an increasingly more hostile place. One with high rent, bills to pay, and a (greedy) mouth to feed.
This is not what they put on the brochures.
University flyers are littered with success stories- gushing tales of pride, extensive career options and sickly sweet snaps of wide eyed, fluorescent smiled youths with ill fitting square hats. Square hats that you aren’t even allowed to throw in the air.
So what comes of the square hatted folk?
Is the mortar board hat a symbol which defines a definitive skill set that sets you above and beyond from the general wash of society, or a homage to the idiomatic expression ‘square peg, round hole’ which will hang over you as you make the leap from education into the big bad world but will never quite fit in.
It’s a proper tough time.
I threw myself into my MFA straight from BA in a bid to keep the learning cogs ticking over. My gosh I was nervous, inexperienced and a little naive but above all that, I was hardworking and driven – and still am – by my passion for Dance.
I never really understood the thirst for the stereotypical student life (nor the copious amounts of alcohol) and I was never a regular at any of the ‘student night’ knees-ups. I always expected that because I only went wild on a handful of occasions during my studies, that this was a sure fire way to ensure I was a top-marks, stand out, one-of-a-kind student with more to give then any one else.
Yet there I was, sharing graduation day with people who had surfed through their degrees with ease. Got a steady overall result, and had a blast knocking back shot after shot of their student loans.
So ‘where is she going with this?’ I hear you cry.
I think what I am simply trying to say is that life is tough after education.
I stumbled from degree to degree and am now still stumbling (some days tumbling) towards what seems like a rocky road to proper real life adulthood.
I am also trying to say that in this life, you can never resent those people who can get ahead without putting much thought into it; that’s just how it works. The spells of hard times and good times will come through waves throughout life; and I guess for me, a life without my education would have been like tackling the surf without a board – even more tricky and uncertain.
So how do you nurture who you are whilst making a career out of something that seems out of grasp at times?! (If only I knew the answer!)
It seems then when bursting onto the scenes as a newly educated, fresh from the knowledge pit, eager-to-work human being your first thoughts might well be :-
a. Why hasn’t anyone called/emailed me and offered me a job yet? (As if by magic!)
b. Why does it seem that everyone is getting ahead and I’m on a carousel of set backs and knock downs? (Not something I would recommend at the funfair.)
c. Why doesn’t anyone realise that I’m an amazing candidate, with plenty of experience who would work so so SO SO hard? (The national CV template for all graduates.)
So I guess what I am experiencing here is a typical rearing of two pretty unhelpful heads. Miss Naive and Miss Unrealistic. Two very tricky alter ego’s that can rear their silly little heads during tough transitional times. Believe me, I’ve met them and they can throw you totally off kilter!
But don’t worry, you can equalise them with a dash of Miss Headstrong and a healthy helping of Miss Reality check and just a few meetings with Miss Self-Appreciation. (Or Mr, or Mrs, or Prof – whoever they are!)
It just seems very important not to lose focus or look for flaws in the paths that you have chosen to follow because this part of life; ie breaking free from the chrysalis of comfort and cracking into the vast wilderness of the wider world, is essentially the foundation for the rest of your life. (However, there is always room for change and deviation from this path, it ain’t no one way street!) No matter how long and hard you compare your life path to that of an(other), thier life will never be yours, so it is simply a waste of time to do so.
The path is yours. Y O U R S. And there’s only so far you can go without some kind of opportunity appearing in your sights. And sometimes you have to look that little bit harder, seeing with your whole heart, soul and being. I mean yes the eyes have their uses but this requires insight as well as out-sight.
What I propose to do myself is to remain optimistic (as I flick the last tear of failure from the my cheek) and stay focused (you can do it, you can do it) and also to fill as much of my time soaking up the research, experience and wisdom of those around me – all whilst trying to keep up with my rent and other expenses. Hopefully without having to continuously (and very gratefully) dip into the bank of Mum & Dad.
The general consensus here (however annoying and mundane) is that there is no magic formulae to find your desired career and it rarely happens that you can have it placed directly into the palm of your hand. It’s a learning curve. An adjustment. And all of the tests and these experiences will hold positive significance in later life. One of those ‘Hey, remember when I just couldn’t get a job for ages and I felt proper crap about it? Yes? Oh how we laughed’ sorts of tales, perhaps.*
*Or like me, you might read your old scrawlings, 4 years on and realise you had totally forgotten ever feeling that way but wholeheartedly appreciate that those hurdles made you even stronger and more determined and you are still very much smiling, perhaps even wider than ever before.