• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

The graduate breaking point

When I graduated in June I told myself I could have until the rest of the year to figure out my life and keep applying to jobs while working in a part-time position for a non-profit organisation.

Seven months later I am ready to crack and from asking around, it seems we all are.

When did Britain's young people become overly obsessed with reaching a landmark by a certain age? Some of us already feel guilty that in our made-up world of social obstacles we are behind.

A good chunk of my friends and fellow graduates are working unpaid because we have been told that working unpaid in the media and creative industries we so desperately want to be a part of is the key to a job. But not earning a salary? Well, that's being behind in the game.

I admire these friends though, at least they are committed to doing what they want to do. I have seen some already peel away to work in well paid jobs but sacrifice their soul to do so. Cleverly though, their boring jobs help them climb over the obstacles.

Earn a certain salary, meet the person you're going to marry, get engaged (age 26 preferably), be promoted, have an amazing wedding in a venue no one else in your gaggle of friends have found (age 27), buy the house of your dreams (29), have children (30), have more children, put money aside for a nest egg, go on package holidays, do DIY on the next perfect house, entertain neighbours and friends with a spread of cocktail sausages and hummus dips, do work for charity, look after your ageing parents, set up your own funeral plan at the Co-Op, put your children through university, retire, the big sleep.

And that's it.

Over 15 years after those Trainspotting posters started appearing on everyone's walls, we are still following its instructions: choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family.

It sounds awful. I come close to having panic attacks when I look around and realise that's what lies ahead of me. For goodness sake, I only have six and a half childless years left according to the life plan!

Yet we secretly want to know that that's the safe trajectory we will all take. It's safe and cosy even if I know I'll end up looking behind me and thinking of what could have been.

So I'm stuck between wanting to be put in a box with a label and running far, far away from predictability to do something I want to do which I can live off and cope with knowing that my life will never reach the obstacles on society's life map.

I'm clinging on to the shreds of blissful naivety that carried me through to the end of 2012. I don't want to grow up and become conventional, in a box with a label. But will I ever set up the businesses I dream of, publish the novel that hides in a drawer, or write that film script?

Who knows? I guess I have to prepare for being uncomfortable first and live with that.

To everyone who is going through the same thing, know that you're not the only one who is losing their mind. To those who might be living with a recent graduate who is coming close to have this sort of breakdown, please be patient. And if you are a parent who has followed the life path to a tee, don't say anything at all.  

Contextual targeting label: 
Careers and Jobs

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

136455