The signs were there all along. They are literally everywhere you turn. Obviously there aren’t billboards and posters that say, ‘Hoe, don’t do it’ – the signs were much subtler than that.
“Adulthood is tiring,” they all said, but you’d shrug it off. “You’re young, you still have time,” they would whisper, but it would fall on deaf ears.
Entering the full time work force is no walk in the park. It’s not even a light stroll down the street. It’s just standing up from your desk for the first time in eight hours to take the short walk to the kitchette to fill up your water bottle. One day you’re tagging memes in class, and the next you’re wearing earth coloured clothing and stomping through a shared office walkway furiously holding a salad.
Time has changed and if you run at the same pace for your whole life, you’re already a step behind the rest of the pack. If at any moment you stand still, even for just a second, it feels like hundreds of people storm past you, and you’re left in a heap of dusty air, like Wil-E-Coyote. We live in a world where our hard work and success defines us. It’s undeniable. It’s praised, and it should be, but what happens at the end of the movie to the only-slightly-attractive fourth male lead? You either get your own sitcom or you find yourself leading D-grade local theatre productions.
I recently graduated, without a full-time job in my field. The second that was over there was this shift in my universe. Suddenly I had become an adult, just add water. Without a student ID, I paid full price for everything and people started smiling at me less. Maybe it was real, maybe it was just me, but there was an immense pressure to be at a certain point in my life. If I wasn’t there, I was a failure.
Sixteen years worth of praise from teachers was all that kept me going throughout the entire year that it took me to find a job. Every ‘We regret to inform you…’ or ‘Unfortunately’ or ‘Fuck off Western Sydney scum’ that came in my inbox took a year off my life. Sitting at home all day, applying to hundreds of jobs a week and barely getting a reply was soul crushing. It was like the media industry was an MMA fighter and I was their lumpy, red punching bag with faded branding.
I saw entry level jobs that somehow required 18 years’ worth of similar experience. I saw inexperienced people getting jobs through connections that I didn’t have. I saw my dreams getting further and further out of reach. I hated waiting in a random lobby for an interview, sitting adjacent to a skinny girl, named Lili-with-an-‘I’, who probably gets 400+ likes on Instagram with a photo of her foot. She looked like she could post a photo of her ashy elbow and somehow get signed with Vaseline.
It drained me. I was crushed every single day. It was one of my biggest slumps in my life and I felt like I couldn’t talk about it because getting a full time job after university, in my world, was a given. You’re just expected to take that next step.
"It was like the media industry was an MMA fighter and I was their lumpy, red punching bag with faded branding."
I was at home eating dried apricots when I got the call. I had finally scored a job in something I had studied for. It was like everything had fallen into place, like Buddha himself had sent me this job to make up for every time I gave my seat to an older person on public transport. I’ve been in my job for about a month now. It’s not what I expected. I’m tired all the time, but I’m moving. I’m taking steps forward and I feel grand. I’m earning money and sleeping regularly and reading more, to pass time on the hour long commute, and I’m finding more of myself. I’m starting to realise that there aren’t any rules to this. I’m chipping away at the mould I set for myself.
I’m the youngest in my office, which I joke about all the time, but it has kept me on my toes. The lovely people I work with have taught me that there’s no right or wrong way to be an adult. You can be a kick-arse 27-year-old smashing out a Hemingway thesis. You can be 30 and still attend beginner hip hop classes. Or you can be me, a slightly anxious and naïve 21-year-old who thought that I had to set my path instantly, lest I fall behind the mark.
So, before I sign off, I thought I would give both some practical and emotional advice for recent graduates who are also going through the perils of searching for a full-time gig:
1) Make a LinkedIn account and make connections.
This is your professional Facebook. The way you trawl for exes' new partners on FB is how you should be using LinkedIn to search for your dream job. Also, sign up to Seek, their site shows you when an employer has viewed your application. Just like Facebook shows you when your crush has ‘seen’ your message.
2) It’s always a competition, so find ways to set yourself apart.
Jazz up your 'Times New Roman, size 12 font' mess of a resume with something different. Make yourself a website, make your future boss laugh, show them that you’re someone they’ll want around in the office.
3) Don’t be afraid of a little unpaid work.
Set aside some time to volunteer, it does wonders to your resume.
4) Get personal and list five of your hobbies and interests.
Maybe you and your employer both like Competitive Antiquing?
5) Start now.
If you’re in your second or third year and want a job right after graduation, start working in a relevant job casually, part time or as above, for free!
6) Don’t feel like it’s a race.
Which is stupid coming from me since half this article was a competitive metaphor, but it does pay to take some time off. Save up and travel, even if it’s just to Melbourne. Take deep breaths and slow down every once in a while. We will all find our passion soon enough. Plus, you’re in your 20s, despite what Ru Paul says, it’s okay to fuck it up sometimes. Get I can an amen up in here?
You guys: Amen!
Alright, now let the music play!
Author’s Note: Thank you TSH readers for listening to my nonsense and giggling at my poorly written jokes this past year. I’ll be consciously uncoupling from Twenty Something Humans, but feel free to follow my Instagram @markusmuch.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Mark for a wonderful year of honest, humble and heart warming content. We’re so happy and proud that you landed your dream job! Go get ‘em!