Frustration. It’s a board game I played when I was a kid. You can’t move your little plastic piece anywhere until you roll a 6. Sounds easy, but as rounds go by and you’re still stuck where you are, the name of the game really kicks in. You know you WANT to move forward, you have strategies and plans and ideas, and you know you’re going to kick some ass once you get going – but until you get that magic 6, you can’t.
That’s how I feel. I’m a (very) recent graduate – my MA finished less than a week ago, and my student card still hasn’t expired (thank God) . And I was brought up believing that you do well at school = you get a good job, and are generally rewarded for your biro, sweat and tears. So, I did my homework every night. I religiously revised for my GCSE’s and A Levels (even General Studies). I visited Universities and weighed up my choices with care, balancing academic reputation with finding somewhere that was ‘me’. And on paper at least, it paid off.
I’ve worked hard. My tan this summer was filtered through library windows, and I have letters after my name (the MA is, admittedly, pending). I’ve been all kinds of casual staff, from casually serving dinner to the Welsh rugby team to casually handing out McDonalds leaflets. I am suitably extracurricular: I organised, I Got Involved. I even hosted a radio show – something that gives me the ‘edge’ I heard employers are looking for. I even ticked that Holy Grail of graduate boxes, work experience, pretty darn well.
My CV is a thing of beauty. But these days the effort in / results out equation is significantly skewed. Like that board game, you can have everything ready… but until you get that magic 6, you can’t. Go. Anywhere.
Don’t get me wrong – I am by no means bitter. In fact, considering the situation so many of my generation find ourselves in, I’m remarkably upbeat. But I can’t help feeling that, somewhere along the line, my efforts should be worth something. They don’t call us Generation Angry for nothing.
So many people (hi, Dad) have asked me: what are you doing next? Where do you want to be in five years’ time? The question isn’t the problem. I know exactly where I want to be, and I’m in no doubt that the rest of my generation knows too. It’s not the destination that troubles us: it’s the getting there.
So this is me getting there: this is What I Did Next.