Well… what hasn’t happened in five months? In no particular order:
- Graduated (see figure 1)
- Worked (for a split second) in a solicitor’s office
- Got a publishing internship (but a few days after complaining this outcome was about as likely as my becoming an astronaut, as it happens)
- Got some freelance work out of the above internship (still broke though, nothing changes)
- Went to Denmark with one of my best friends (see figure 2)
- Moved house, to a different county – hello Yorkshire, and all your hills
- Planted a small crop of potatoes on an allotment thanks to my mother’s partner
- Started learning to row (pictures inevitably forthcoming)
- Applied for PhD research at the University of York
- Got accepted for PhD research at the University of York
Yeah… Apparently I’m still not ready for the real world and shan’t be for another three or so years.
You’re simply bursting to hear about the vicissitudes of the obscure author of this obscure blog’s life path are you not? Then let me indulge you.
As I mentioned, I had a little bit of work in a solicitor’s office over Christmas and January – that I was using to save some pennies for my up-coming unpaid internship in the big city – a job that I managed to land through no effort on my part but through the generosity of my aunt and uncle and their friend, the solicitor in question. This poor woman… I was utterly useless – consistently killing the shredder, arguing with the scanner, creating amateur (though very neat) spreadsheets, and being forever flustered by the telephone – I can’t begin to comprehend why she wished me to continue working there. In reality, the only reason anything got done was because she had a very patient long-standing employee who was willing to clean up after me. No joke, he is long overdue for a significant a pay-rise…
In any case, my lack of administrative virtuosity and associated feelings of shame and self-loathing at my uselessness, along with more than a little boredom (not that I’m not grateful for the work, I can’t stress how appreciative I am, but my word it was dull) made me question the trajectory of my life and chosen career. Before I even got to London I was asking, would not the world of the publishing industry be just the same for an entry-level bodkin such as myself? Am I willing to graft and slog away for a job in an industry I’m primarily considering due to a combination of familial and societal pressures to GET A REAL JOB, being relatively good at spotting spelling mistakes, and not knowing what else to do with English Literature degrees? Becoming an editorial assistant won’t make any great dents in the behemoth that is my student debt, so that’s not a plus either.
I’ll not lie, I’m dreading it.
Perhaps, sitting in front of that day’s multitude of finance spreadsheets and plastic bags overflowing with receipts, I was thinking too fast and it all was going to be fine. Would I wait to find out? No, no I would not. What, as it turns out, am I pretty good at, and what do I really enjoy? Moreover, what of those things, can I conceivably pursue as a fulfilling career?
So I began the search for a supervisor (a cringe-worthy process that deserves its own dedicated blog post), wrote a research proposal, and sent off an official application to York.
Fast forward through some embarrassing – only on my part, of course – but very helpful emails and phone calls, I’ve managed to secure an incredibly talented academic to
supervise me throughout my research and can go into my internship feeling as though a weight has lifted. My application is, even at this early stage, looking quite positive, thus the pressure to furiously network and charm my way through February to a paid job in a publishing house is somewhat relieved and I feel I am free to just enjoy myself.
Which I do! Very much so, in fact. I shan’t elaborate any further for now for fear of rambling on, but suffice it to say I learnt a lot, worked hard, discovered that kindles are actually alright, and was very lucky to be offered a little bit of freelance work once I finished the month in the office.
Fast forward again through a couple of months, a house-move, and a holiday, and I finally hear officially from York whether or not I’ll be joining them in September… Even though this, in then end, was more a formality than anything else, not knowing for certain caused more than one fretful night, so when I at last received confirmation of an unconditional offer I spent the next two days erupting in fits of laughter (which ended up being the silver lining in a very tiresome week of babysitting my darling hairy sister [the cocker spaniel, Merry], who decided to eat something suspicious-looking by Saltaire canal that gave her some obscene diarrhoea. If it was up for debate before, my plan to not have children is now non-negotiable…). And what’s more, I have been offered an en-suite room in the graduate college, so I’ll FINALLY be living on campus – third time lucky and all that.I could go on, but I’ll end with a three-part conclusion. First and foremost, it wouldn’t be kosher to not express my gratitude to everyone and everything, both positive and negative, that played a part in the crystallization of what had hitherto been a dream that I had not seriously entertained due to a) lack of faith in my abilities, and b) an apathetic attitude of ‘I’ll do it one day’. Secondly, the dog recovered but according to my mother decided she needed to be hand-fed her food piece by piece for a few days after going back home. Princess. And finally, as much as I don’t know what will happen over the next three years (there is the very real possibility I will despise PhD life and will swear off academia as vehemently as I’ve sworn off high-heeled shoes [why so painful?]), with the prospect of blood, sweat, and tears in a big library over a glorified essay that may potentially be my bread and butter on the horizon, I feel content in the knowledge that I’m doing what I want to do, not what I’ve been pressured into.