It is a transitional space. A space that divides two places in which you feel safe, settled and on track. It’s hard to feel settled in the transitional space; no soft furnishings, nowhere to rest on your laurels. The safe space that I left was Education. It was not safe for it’s ease or the joy that it brought me, it was safe because I had purpose, structure, something to say that I was doing when asked by a slightly judgemental adult at a Christmas do.
“And what do you do Georgina?”
“Oh, I’m so glad you asked Brian, I’m at University studying History and Journalism”
“Oh lovely, great” Brian reaches for a sausage roll. “And what will you do afterwards? What will you be when you grow up?” Brian laughs and I can see the sausage roll in his mouth. I am disgusted by Brian and irritated by his question.
What will I do? I will fester in the transitional space. Lost in time. A space that mimics the feeling of when you wake in the middle of the night. It’s pitch black and to avoid waking up fully, you don’t turn on the lights, you walk tentatively, arms outstretched, in the hope that you’re moving in the right direction. In the hope that you won’t walk into something hard. Inevitable really though, with so many obstacles. Obstacles in the dark and obstacles in life. So I’ve graduated, class of covid-19 which I’m trying desperately to ignore and now I have been pushed into darkness, with no scope of the direction that I am facing. Where do I want to go? What do I want to be? Why have I racked up so much debt and why do I have next to no money? I’ve amassed awful spending habits and a broken body clock. I’ve learnt about what I’m interested in yet I have no tools to apply those interests to a career or a profession. Job applications are overwhelming because they always ask for ‘at least 2 years experience’ and I have to lie my way through the application process to mask my lazy student excuse of ‘well I had deadlines and bits n bobs and a night at Bunker so yes – limited experience but what I lack in experience I make up for in a willingness to people please and work hard.’
Part of me likes the unknown of this transitional space. It feels like opportunity. No matter the direction that I take it will be a direction, a step away from the comfort that an educational institution brings. A step toward something – something great? A good decision, a bad decision? Who knows. Who knows how long it will take, how many times I will try to get out and end up creeping back in, because the next step wasn’t quite what I expected. Suddenly, I don’t feel like my life is on track. Scary at first, but, quickly I am realising that I never built the track in the first place. I never sat down and crafted the route because I was told to tie my laces, put on my tie and sit through endless lessons, exams and lectures. All that lies in front of me now is open space. I’m in the driving seat and I dictate the way the track twists and turns. Sure, there’s bound to be obstacles; rejection, poor decision making, wrong turns, lack of opportunity, indecisiveness, laziness, financial pressures, societal pressures etcetera – but I’m ready for the mistakes. I’m 23, I have dreams that reach to the moon and back, and I have no rocket in which to travel. Not yet anyway. I have however, decided that I will not feel the pressure of this goal orientated society to make something of myself quickly. It is unfortunately, for want of a better phrase, a marathon and not a sprint. In a job you hate? That’s ok, find a new one and then quit. Sitting on your parents sofa and eating out of the contents of their fridge? Home is where the heart is so put your feet up, rest, recuperate, prepare for battle.
There is no shame to be felt in feeling lost, in feeling like your purpose has dissipated along with the deadlines and the late night corner shop runs. We are a generation lost inside of our phones, in the augmented reality of Instagram perfection. There is no shortcut, nor is there a time frame to the amount of time that you will spend in the transitional space. It is short and it is vast. I am trying to use this time as an opportunity to assess what it is that is important to me. How I define success, accomplishment, joy. It will look different for all of us and the grass is not always greener on the other side. Be patient, be diligent, invest in your future because no one else will. Value yourself and know that just because you are not at this moment reaching your full potential – your full potential is not diminished. Don’t be afraid to look people like Brian in the eye and say: “I’m not really sure yet Brian, everything’s up in the air and I’m feeling a little lost and directionless but quite enjoying it. Hows the sausage roll? Good?”
You are in charge of your future, whenever and whatever that future may be. There is no rush. Even when things around you feel like they are ticking, counting down to excellence. Excellence however, is a journey not a destination. As is happiness, success and a trip to Tesco. It doesn’t matter where you end up, it’s all in the process of getting there.
Fuck Brian. It’s hard in the transitional space. But, you are not alone. Even those people that came out of university and walked straight into a job, may be working 12 hour days and feeling undervalued and bored shitless. Take your time and don’t feel rushed by intrigued accquaintances or seemingly successful peers. You are on your own track and it’s hard enough having to settle for jobs that are available and achievable without comparing yourself to the track next door. It’s ok to not know what’s next, the lights are off and you’re feeling your way through, have faith that just like finding your way to the toilet in a deliriously sleepy state, you will find your way to your next safe space. Whatever that may be.