I’ve technically graduated my MA programme. I always wanted to go to graduate school. I (wisely for my young age) chose to go in-state for college. I planned my track, my future. My eventual career. In part thanks to the trying circumstances of my time at UCL and in part due to the wider collapse of higher education (Google search: Adjunct Professor, Living Wage, Student Debt Crisis)…that’s not my path anymore. I will never be a professor. I will never have a phd. I will have to work hard in a job with manual labour, and find ways to get by on far far less than anyone ever promised me when I was growing up.
It’s been an incredibly painful year while I’ve struggled to come to terms with all that first paragraph encapsulates. I’m still struggling with the fact that much of my job at the moment can be reduced to food running and toilet-cleaning, with a side of craft beer expertise. I have grown to hate the goddamn N26 bus in the early mornings. I’m covered in bruises from kegs and strangely proud of them. I can lift a full 50L keg unaided, without a back brace. I love my coworkers.
It’s a very different life from the one I pictured myself having at 27. I feel like an overgrown adolescent, especially since so many people assume that bar work is only for those in university or people who never went. The vast majority of my coworkers are college-educated.
The most painful thing this year has been scaling down expectations. I used to wish for a big house with a big yard, like the one I grew up in. I pictured being able to repaint it however I wanted, and living near a cultural centre or a place with lots of green areas. I pictured living in a house with a kitchen like this one, in Point Reyes, People’s Republic of California.
I have my elusive MA now, but none of the trappings I thought might come with it. I still drink wine regularly, and I have the pleasures of a life that my ancestors could never have dreamed of (like cocktails at the Night Jar in London!). But I still have only a tiny room in what is most likely a slightly illegal houseshare. I look at beautiful houses, or even apartments, with envy. I have to wake up early after the night shift and getting to sleep at about 4AM to let the plumber in because our shower was broken for two days. I have to budget for a fire alarm and a bath plug, which I will then promptly forget at Sainsbury’s in my dazed four-hours-of-sleep phase.
I work 9-5. In Boulder, Colorado. Whilst living in London. My shift starts at 17:00 GMT today, and I’ll be done around 1 AM. Then the two hour commute.
My expectations are lowered for my life, however painfully. I don’t see that big house anymore. I see a tiny one. I don’t see a car. Certainly not a new one. I don’t see fancy clothes and a prestigious job.
I hope for my yellow teapot. I have one now. My expectations are lowered sufficiently to make me happy and content with this. I feel more adult for having bought it at John Lewis.
Oh, and I’m getting married in 19 days. I’m going be a big adult. With a yellow teapot. Expectation accomplished.