An arts graduate with an extreme anxiety in regards to personal finance, it was always a given that I’d walk out of my degree and into an utterly irrelevant job. In fact, it was always the plan – as I told my mother on the phone a few weeks ago, leaning against a railing that overlooked a subterranean dual carriageway in central Stirling, I am a long way off being a writer, an artist, a completely self-sufficient human being. In a hierarchy of needs, creativity cannot be achieved without first satisfying the need for a sense of financial stability; perhaps in some, but certainly not in me. The plan was to make some money by whatever means, and then I could make some art.
So I got a job, and then I got good at it. Really good at it. I was given a small promotion and then offered a transfer. I took both. I like what I do – it’s enough and I’m looking forward to heading north, but as I dug around in my room tonight, looking for the gear that I’m going to take out to a photo shoot in the morning, I realized that …shit, I haven’t actually done anything in months. This is the first time, perhaps since I finished my degree in early June, that I’ve even made serious effort to do anything of the sort.
I mean, how easy it is to forget about it all when you’ve just clocked nine hours at the till and your hands smell permanently of diluted sanitizer. I was going to make books, but now all I make is coffee.
And this sad revelation comes on the back of the sudden discovery that I’m being consciously underpaid for the role that I’ve been asked to take on, the injustice of which stung hard and prompted an inflation of my self-worth to dangerous proportions. “What the hell am I even doing in a place like this?!” I thought to myself as I seethed over the food that I was preparing in the back today. I can take pretty photographs. I can string words together in a coherent and fashionable manner. I can understand the intricacies of our postmodern society and how we got here, so I can do better than…
… than what? Than a full-time job straight out of university? Than the opportunity to move elsewhere and walk straight into work? Than a job that I actually really dig regardless of whether my current boss – who I’ll be leaving in three weeks, mind – wants to pay me appropriately for it or not?
But I can do better than coming home and crawling into bed to watch episodes of Fargo until my eyes dry up. I can do better than leaving my camera to gather dust under my bed. I can do better than to just contemplate resisting the complacency that I am so critical of others but give in to in equal measure, if not more.
I can do better, but I don’t. Where can I find the boundless inspiration and motivation that I had in the final months of my degree? I’m literally living the dream, following the plan to a tee, but for one hideously important thing.