University ends and adult life begins simultaneously. It’s like the 3, 4 or 5 years you spend at uni is simply you climbing up the ladder of a really tall diving board and getting to the very top. Your parents, your family and your lecturers all say “well done, look how far you’ve come” as they stand at the bottom and wait for you to jump from an astonishing height into the diving pool below. Some of your peers and even some of your close friends will take the leap, land with a 10 from the judges and make their way gracefully out of the water. Sometimes you’ll hit the water, only to remember you never learned to swim.
Fast-forward to today and I’m still drowning while I try to reach the top of the pool. The judges have packed up and went home, sick of waiting for me to resurface. They have other competitions to judge, the next year of students who have almost reached the top rung of the ladder.
Now forget the pretentious analogy you’ve just read and I’ll explain the reality of the situation. University is a lengthy process of learning, relearning, pretending to learn things so you don’t have to actually learn them and coincidentally having to relearn them due to your laziness the first time round. I know it’s not like this for everyone, some students are dedicated and have a thirst for knowledge but I’ve never been one of those people. I’m the kind of person who will do absolutely anything before doing the thing they’re actually supposed to be doing. I’m the person who turns up to a graded presentation with one page of notes that only contains one sentence; “look up stuff for tomorrow’s presentation”. I wing it through life and it’s never completely failed me. I generally tend to do pretty well for somebody who leaves the last class of a 6 week block not even knowing what the title of the class was. I always thought winging it could never let me down but to my horror, the teachers in high school were -somewhat- right! I couldn’t begin to count how many times I heard a variation of the sentence; “you can’t leave your project until the night before when you go to uni/you can’t pass an exam without revising when you go to uni”. My 14 year old self still wants to hold on to the fact that they were wrong. Yes, they were wrong about uni but they were right about life. What they should have said is; “maybe you can pass an exam without revising and maybe you can write an essay the night before but once you graduate you’ll realise that doing the bare minimum will make it very hard for you to get a job in your field”.
I don’t want to get another job in the service industry, scraping peas and beans out of the carpet from the aftermath of serving lunch to an unapologetic family with a messy toddler. I get it, toddlers are messy but please try and prevent the area surrounding your table from looking like the garden peas apocalypse. I don’t even want to get a job in an office where I can turn up with unbrushed hair knowing the customers on the other end of the phone-line can only hear my sweeter than tea with 10 sugars, customer service voice. Janis, the 45 year old mother of 4 probably called up to find out why her wifi cuts off every time she’s in her living room “but it’s fine when I’m in my bedroom” she says. I’ll tell her with a verbal smile that she could “move the box to a more neutral location”. Janis can hear the falseness of my feigned concern but hopefully she can’t hear the contempt that I feel towards my worthless job and how I wasted several years of my life learning how to be a professional in a career that I’ll never have.
This, ladies and gentlemen is how it feels to be in ‘The Void’. It’s like Hell, or ‘the Upside Down’ for the Stranger Things fans out there. I know a lot about fictional TV series trivia these days because I like to watch series after series to avoid my responsibilities.
‘The Void’ is a playful little name I’ve come up with to personify the period of time that follows the high of graduating. You dress up for the ceremony, hold your degree in your hands, knowing you’re finally ‘qualified’ to be something. Then you come home and prepare your apron and shirt for another day at the restaurant you work in. You remember how scared you are to apply for a job in your field because even though you have a literal qualification, you still feel too inexperienced for the career you studied for.