As far back as I can remember, September has alway signified a new start more than New Year’s Day. Every single September, since I was four years old going to kindergarten, I’ve started a new year of school, with new classmates, new subjects to learn and, of course, new clothes.
This September, I’m not going back to school, and it’s freaking me out. A lot. I went to Walmart last week to buy some items for the house and upon nearly being tackled by the mother of a college student in the storage aisle, realized that I was no longer one of them. My life as a student is over. Or at least suspended.
This September, I still find myself in the midst of a few changes, the biggest one being that I moved again. On Wednesday the 31st of August, I waved goodbye to my College Street apartment and hello to my new place further west in Toronto.
With the help of a U-Haul van I named Byron, I moved all of my things over the course of the morning. By the end of it all, I was sweaty and my arms were sore. The next day I couldn’t lift anything higher than shoulder height, which was simultaneously hilarious and sad.
It’s been five days, and I haven’t unpacked everything. Not gonna lie, I’ve also just put off properly moving in because I don’t even have everything here. Most of my fall/winter wardrobe is still hanging out in Kingston, and since we’re heading into that time of year, somehow I need to get that down here ASAP.
But this is where I am: half-moved in, re-adjusting to a new neighbourhood, again, and trying to get one day off from work so I can bring the rest of my crap down.
Aside from my ~very glamorous~ magazine gig, I have an actual paying job at an ice cream shop. It’s pretty thankless work, as most positions in the service industry are, but it’s work, and that can be pretty hard to come by these days.
I’ve had a few jobs in the service industry, mostly in retail, and every time I served those who work the 9-5s, those with pensions and stable paycheques and long weekends off I would look at them in awe. Those who bask in everything the light touches. In my mind, that was always the best place to be, though I know those jobs aren’t without their own problems.
Before, I felt I had an excuse because I was still in school, but now having graduated, I immediately felt the pressure to land a proper, grown-up job. It’s not that easy, of course. I studied journalism in school. My nepotism game is weak, so it’s either get really lucky or make your own job.
After graduation, I immediately began comparing myself to the most successful graduates from my year. It was inevitable, because those are the only people you see anything from on Facebook, other than every freakin’ person who’s travelling to Iceland lately. I felt inadequate. I felt like a failure, like I didn’t prepare myself while I was in school for the time after it. I didn’t do enough internships. I didn’t network enough. These thoughts constantly swirled in my head and have made me apply to communications jobs with an alarming fervour.
This is the reality: life after graduation is hard. It’s hard to get a job (if you’re in arts anyway, I couldn’t tell you about the science or engineering fields). It’s even harder to get a job you really like. It’s hard to make friends when you live in a different city than where you went to school. It’s hard to find an apartment. And it’s hard to feel like you need to defend your current situation to anyone who asks, “What is it that you do?” (The truth is you don’t. You really don’t.)
Learning not to compare yourself to others is a lifelong task. The proverbial Jonses, in whatever form they plague you in, are always just visible in your peripheral. What needs to be realized is we’re all moving at different paces. We’re all a bunch of monkeys trying our best in this life.
This is only the fourth month I’ve been outside of school. As much as I would like to waltz into my dream job, it won’t happen. I haven’t been in the job-hunting game for long. You need to work hard and do your time working crappy jobs until you make it. The most reassuring thing to hear is that, at the end of it all, you will make it, but I can’t guarantee that for myself. I have no idea what’ll happen in the next year, even in the next few months, but until then I need to keep sending out desperate cover letters and working the service industry like a goddam pro.