The struggle of getting a job is a well-known problem, and it is the plight of millennials seemingly now more than ever. But what happens when you get the job? Or perhaps not the job, whatever that might be, but a job. One that will pay the bills and one that you are proud of.
The office is an environment that I never thought I would find myself in. Working as a travel agent, daily I face a niggling feeling that I am compromising my more creative inclinations.
Aside from this, I can only seem to contemplate full-time work as a concept rather than a reality. Several times a day I think, surely this can’t be it? Two days of the week are yours and nothing else? No wonder depression and loneliness are the enormous social dilemmas that they are! This is surely to blame! Dial Downing Street at once! I keep waiting to stumble upon a news headline announcing the end of a long experiment with the full working week and the introduction of Wednesday as a halfway break. Sadly the majority of us soldier on, stationary within this structure.
Time becomes both friend and foe. On a minute to minute basis, it can pass painstakingly slowly, but in the long term, it’s sand through your fingers. This has triggered a new and suffocating kind of anxiety. Glued to my desk, my eyes frequently return to the clock and I can’t help but round up the minutes. Thirty-six minutes past becomes basically quarter to, which is practically on the hour. Even though my work is often stimulating, clock-watching has become a real occupation in itself. My day revolves around the proximity to lunch, followed by the hours until it’s finally time to go home. On a weekly scale, it’s a slow climb to the mid-week peak that is Wednesday, followed by a rapid downhill slope into the weekend. Weekends pass in a flash, even if they are without plans and before you know it, you’re back into the week again. So it goes on, and suddenly it’s been a month. Then two. I haven’t yet been in my job four months.
"Two days of the week are yours and nothing else?"
As I’m sure many find, this is not a construct that is conducive to mental health, especially if you have been born with naturally itchy feet like mine. Typically, I shy away from group environments. As a result, my conversations with new colleagues are still tinged with a gentle awkwardness, as I fumble my way cringingly through small talk, constantly aching to direct the topic away from me. My week is usually a monochrome palette of dark days and bright ones. Monday and Tuesday, I am mostly warming up, until Wednesday typically brings a confidence and self-assurance that thankfully travels with me into the office space. Before I know it I am starting conversations, replying with an upbeat response that belays my newfound comfort until this precious feeling swiftly regresses on the tide of another dark day.
I remember hearing once that anything that brings you instant gratification probably isn’t good for you, but I am someone who is unaccustomed to the long haul. I have always been most comfortable in temporally sensitive relationships; poignant encounters with strangers, ‘festival friendships’ and one night stands for example. Now, I am learning to savour the slow process. My romantic relationship and the bonds I am slowly forging with my colleagues attest to a certain kind of longevity that is foreign to me, but ultimately truly rewarding. The marathon runner is slowly coming to the fore, as opposed to the anxious and fickle sprinter. Sometimes, the desire to leg it and try something else is overpowering. But I’ve now realised it takes a certain kind of bravery to decide to really stick with something. Those freelance dreams will come true eventually, but for now, it’s goodbye overdraft, destination green. (Eventually).
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