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May 3, 2014

Great Expectations

Do you know what the problem with your early twenties is? Your expectations are far too high. You are not quite ready to relinquish the world as your oyster yet because you have only just savoured the sweet taste of life outside captivity. The bell barely tolls the end of your final college exam, and you are already out the door screaming “FREEDOM!” in the style of Mel Gibson. 

It is a natural reaction to 18 years of imprisonment, much like the ritualistic burning of the books and the feeling of almost smug invincibility. While you ought to aim for the top, beware of the disparity between your dreams and disillusionment. This blissful period exists only until the terrible truth dawns on you; that you are still a slave, only this time to the working world. And he is a cruel master.

So you expected your budding career to be the culmination of all your hard work, the validation of yourself as an individual? That may be true of the lucky few who gain a job in their chosen field immediately, but for the vast majority, we will have to endure some painful community service in the form of customer care. Be it the Radisson or Supermacs, there is very little joy to be derived from the in-betweeny jobs that are annoying at best, soulless at worst. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you suffer intense feelings of failure and inadequacy on a daily basis, you also have to endure such clientele gems as “Can I have a BLT without any lettuce or tomato?” The other day, I got a legitimate complaint because I had made a cup of coffee that was too hot. TOO HOT. That framed BA degree is being ousted from the mantelpiece sharpish lest it mock me any further.

Your attempts to find solace in your days off are rarely successful; you envisaged your weekends spent on crazy madcap adventures, not searching for a replacement toilet handle in B&Q. Which is why I am currently elbow deep in an Irish Times supplement on how doing a Masters at a university will ensure you are the master of the universe. I am encircling the list of 2,573 postgraduate courses with a black circle in the hope that one day I will be trawling through the jobs section with a red circle. It’s a vicious circle!

And so we come to the closing sentiments of this one person’s cautionary tale of early adulthood. I do apologise if I have dampened the spirits of any optimistic college students. Do be advised that these are merely the ramblings of an embittered graduate exploring the ridiculous but true phenomenon of the quarter-life crisis. I have not travelled far enough down this road to determine whether this sort of behaviour leads to Eleanor Roosevelt or Eleanor Abernathy. In the meantime, one can only pray for the safety and wellbeing of the next rude customer that crosses my path. Stay tuned.