The Familiar Wait
I’m the kind of person who crumbles to dust without routine or something to actively do. Holidays have always been problematic: last summer I completed a month-long internship in Cambridge ‘doing the 9-5′ during the week, studying at weekends. I did it because I loved it. I also did it for my own mental health - my lowest points when suffering from depression came during the months between January-September 2013, while waiting for the academic year to begin again. I had nothing to actively do, attempting to find employment, yet continually being unsuccessful. Waking up with no purpose felt degrading and for some reason each subsequent break from the academic year has since resembled that period of time - I’ve had to keep myself busy, stay vigilant.
The fear that began to creep up during the last few weeks of my degree is, then, imaginable. After exams, I had finally decided upon the sector I wanted to find a job in, so although I hadn’t had any direct experience in the sector specifically, I began to make countless applications, hoping for just one chance. Graduation came and went … my inbox was empty of any replies whatsoever. I didn’t even receive rejections, but must have instead been outright ignored. Applications continued, hours were spent, but to be honest it seemed I was applying to absent receiver after absent receiver. I’m painting a very bleak picture of graduate life, but I have to be truthful: the silence was unnerving, downright demoralising. However, just before I went to Barcelona, I received my first reply - an advertising agency in Soho, London wanted to interview me the day after my return from a holiday to Barcelona.
In Barcelona, talk often turned to our ‘future’ - my friends had direct plans for the summer and for some, beyond that … but I had none. Barcelona was my summer. Each time talk would turn to time beyond the holiday like this, I’d feel something scarily close to panic settle on my chest, had to stop myself from crying each time. I thought about the job interview I was going home to - the one response I had received, at the time my only hope - and it made me feel marginally better. I eventually discovered that I’d placed an awful lot of hope on the upcoming event.
With each step I took through London, travelling to the interview, I wondered if my dream of living there could actually be a possibility, and I ended up finishing the day extremely annoyed with myself for having fallen in love with the company as soon as I walked into the office. When I came home, desperate to work as soon as possible - desperate to have a purpose, I later realised - but sceptical of my success in the interview just had, I applied to jobs outside my targeted sector, attempting to cushion my fall in advance of my assured rejection. Securing an interview for one of these places, I travelled back down to London for the second time in a week to a company who I knew I would despise, a career I knew I would loathe, to an interview experience which I knew was going to be excruciating.
I didn’t have to go to that second interview. The ‘good news’ phone call I received on the way down to London actually made me cry. It was going to happen. It was all going to happen. Advertising. Now. London. 26th July, the moving date. 1st August, the start date.
The past week and a half has flown by. I’ve been busy organising temporary accommodation for August - I’m then moving in with two of my best guy friends from September onwards, so we’ve been sending potential places back and forth, planning which ones I am going to check out for us this month. I’ve been able to delete all of the tabs on my laptop that had details for potential job applications. I’ve deleted the files containing my past applications to companies who no longer matter. I’ve signed and sent off my contract. Purchased a select few items of clothing for my first job. Even dyed my hair a temporary peach colour … because I can now.
And yet, this time itself has also been unnerving, analogous to the way I usually feel at the end of summer, before returning to university. It’s limbo - a limbo once balanced, now tipping forward. You can almost feel yourself sliding to the future, you’re excited for it, for the moment beyond that will bring new experiences, new opportunities to make memories. And yet, in the here-and-now, all is stagnant. Take today: I have done nothing. Ok - I packed a couple of suitcases… but in reality, I have done nothing with my day today. Yet I’ve spent this evening making lists, making plans of what I am going to do with my first few days in London. Isn’t it strange, that I’ve spent the present day purely thinking about future days? … I look at my profiles on social media, my finger twitches towards the ‘location’ description, itching to change it to London - not yet Sarah, not yet.
I have drained Birmingham dry. I am done. There is nothing more here for me to do or see. I regress to a - I want to say younger? Sarah the longer I stay here, a Sarah I no longer properly identify with. I will always have a loyalty to the city, I will always be proud of my hometown, but it is no longer somewhere I fit.
I can’t wait to begin the London chronicles, however long they may be. I can’t wait to be doing the job I’ve possibly romanticised way too much (but bitch do I care? - nah). I can’t wait to earn a regular wage (even though most of this will go on my rent), to have my own money, however little, so that I can come home and treat my mother. I can’t wait to live, finally, in the same city as some of my best friends, and to make even more new friends. I can’t wait to actually experience the moments I am currently looking at this second on my list of things to do and places to see. The anticipation of exploring a city anew, for myself, making it a personal home, scouting out places that will become favourites, is exciting me so much - there’s nothing like it.
But at the moment, I’m waiting that old, familiar wait. One day to go.