exploring art and writing

The end of university is nigh…and just in the nick of time.

In Life, Stressed on May 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

My ‘normal’ life has been on hold for three years. Reading novels, buying music, seeing family, earning money; I tried all of these things whilst at university in Cardiff and all of them proved to be extremely difficult to achieve. Of course, this is partly university’s fault (yes, notice the blaming word) and partly my own. Mostly my own, actually, apart from the family thing which can’t be helped.

Really none of these things were university’s fault, I just increasingly fell prey to both temptation and work as my time here in Cardiff went on. What I’m clumsily trying to get across is the confused relationship you develop with your university institution throughout your time as a ward there, this being the typical three years in my case. And what a journey it’s been! In that time I’ve been to Florence and Venice, Osnabrueck, Paris, Dubai, Glasgow and my personal favourite, the South-West of England. All of these places, bar Dubai, I have been to with fellow art students who have simultaneously been wading through the mess that is The Institution with me. Not that I don’t love the mess; perhaps not so keen on the institution though. University – maybe I should refer to it as art school instead? – has certainly ripped away the naivety I previously fell prey to, and for that I must thank it.

It is both fascinating and frustrating, then, that I find myself alongside the mass of graduates who after only a few weeks of leaving university are letting the positive aspects of our experience cascade slowly out of immediate memory. I look at myself each wonderfully existential moment and find myself becoming slovenly, lethargic, uninspired and bored, and therefore boring. I have this niggling feeling every now and then that I was in fact defined by my education; after all, I’ve hopped from one education institution to the next since I was four. I’ve never had a gap year. I’ve never had a full-time job outside of the summer months. I have never ever ever paid taxes. Now it seems I’m undergoing a morbidly disappointing (involuntary) gap year, I’m desperate for that full time job that companies just don’t want to let me have, and the government is getting repeatedly confused about whether or not I am paying those pressing taxes. At least that’s one predictability that we can rely on: the inundatory, impressively unreliable bureaucracy that exists from one institution to another; ‘hey, who cares if you can’t pay the rent? Let’s send you a form, make you ring us up to ask why the hell we sent you this form, then lets send it to you again because we got confused. Or because we just didn’t really give a damn’. Either way is equally delightful.

I can’t help but think about that Bill Bailey song about the ’emo’ working in Starbucks. I consider it in what I like to think is an ironic way; it would be tragic indeed if I used beverage utensils to make myself bleed, no matter how much perseverance and determination it conveyed…no, rather it seems to encapsulate this state of ‘post-uni blues’ and desperation within it’s tragi-rock comedy bubble. Plus I’ve just applied for a job in Starbucks so, you know, it hits right where it hurts. ‘I Bleed on your panini’ indeed.

I suppose what I’m attempting to make clear is that it is very easy to wallow in self-pity when unemployed. I’m beginning to sympathise with people who I’ll admit I never thought I would; I’m learning new and insightful depths of empathy and it’s quite painful. But of course all of this is very melodramatic of me because I have, as the local girls would put it, a pretty lush life here in Cardiff. Probably the best sort of life you could have, actually. So until I get a job I’ll just keep working at the job-hunting, the reading and the exercising, and try to keep myself out of emotional trouble. After all, my life can only get better because eventually I have to find a job, right? And then I can buy myself a video camera and I will realise once again that life is in fact very, very interesting.

  1. I wholeheartedly concur!!

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