Sitting down with my friend, we’ll call him Tim (I call him Tuan though because that’s his real name) I asked him how he’d been finding life since finishing college. We’ve both been done now for almost exactly one year this month, both working, both trying to navigate this murky wasteland that is adult life. In another life I would be waste deep in spawn with a divorce looming.
“I’m kinda unsure what to be doing with myself,” he says. I mean, fair point. We’ve spent the last however many years in a definite structure: eat, sleep, attend some form of educational institution, repeat. And then you get a piece of paper and bam! You’re on your own kid. Enjoy! Not to put any young whippersnappers off, but life after college (in my experience) is a bit confusing. I am the first to say that I am limited by my own experience and the last person you should listen to. But Rory, (the site’s ‘head honcho’, as he infuriatingly insists on being referred to.) asked me to write this so gosh darn it, I have to write something.
The two biggest questions that have plagued me in the past year are: “what are you going to be when you grow up?” and “when are you going to move out?”. There’s a tendency to want it all right away, if only for a sense of security. This point about moving out is not new, but trying to move out and find room enough to lay a hat and a few friends without needing to sell vital organs in the process is tricky. Your basic hole in the ground covered by tarp is €650 starting off and the landlord is a bastard who may occasionally come to piss on your tarp. So I, like the majority of people in their early to mid twenties (and conceivably older) am still in the family homestead. This has led to some fairly interesting results, mostly the fact that my parents have come to understand the vital importance of knocking. Nothing like an awkward conversation (or three), around the dinner table because your mother walked in on your boyfriends bare ass post-thrust, to have an infantilising effect on you. You lose a part of your independence. You haven’t paid bills, budgeted food, or even cooked it for the week. Well maybe you have, I haven’t. While living at home has definite perks, you can’t be a real grown up if your mother still texts you to see when you’re coming home on a night out.
Working as well has been, to say the least, odd. For sheer financial reasons, you may find yourself taking whatever job will have you for the most money. The result of this may be a severe form of self-loathing as your paycheck comes from the 9th circle of hell where Graham from your team won’t stop hazing you. You have to navigate around other people’s personalities and office politics are insane. What I have learned basically is that all offices are strange places. There was one that wouldn’t let you talk out loud; If someone made a sound it practically echoed. But that was a step up from the 9th circle of hell, if you can believe it or not. It didn’t have a Graham anyway, although there was boss who told me I looked like an angel. I contemplated bringing the almighty wrath of heaven upon him. But this ties into my second nagging query; “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
I had always thought this was a fantasy game. “I want to be a ninja spy who plays guitar at night”. That’s all very well and good, but do you have a masters in that, and what’s your relevant experience? When you grow up in a generation who are told you can be anything and do anything, there’s an enormous amount of pressure to actually do it. Otherwise, you’re not living your life right. It doesn’t even have to be the ninja guitarist, it can be something as simple as wanting to bake, or write or practice law. The reality will never live up to the dream; the reality being you may not get to do the thing you’ve always wanted, no matter how practical and rational that that career choice was. Or maybe you made the wrong choice for college in the first place because you were eighteen and what the hell did you know? You didn’t realise one day you had to wake up and actually answer the darn question, once and for all. Out in the big, wide world, you are your own master. If you fuck up, that sir, is on you.
But after having said all this, the year out of college hasn’t been so bad. You just have to give yourself a break. You will not have anything figured out by the time you are twenty-two and if you do, please give me your number so I can call you incessantly for you to teach me your ways. Tim/Tuan actually ends our conversation by saying that despite the confusion he feels, he’s happier than he was in college. I’m about 60/40. But that’s because Mam just came into my room and said we’re having Shepherd Pie for dinner, (which is blech). At least she knocked.