If you’d have asked me a year ago, even six months ago, how I was that wouldn’t have been my answer. Far from it in fact. But I don’t think I’d really stopped to consider just how far I’d come until I came across the old text from my ‘About’ page, written ten months ago when I was first setting up this blog.
I’m Lizzy, 23 years old and living the graduate dream – I’m unemployed, single and living with my parents.
My dream career of publishing is on hold thanks to the double whammy of physical and mental illness (and a complete lack of confidence that I’d ever actually be able to break in to the hugely competitive industry with an irrelevant degree) so while I alternate unemployment with mind numbing admin work this will act as an outlet for my book related (and sometimes non book related) musings. Not so much a book review blog as a book based blog.
Right at the start is one big change (aside from, you know, being 24) – I now have an actual long term job. It’s not exactly a lucrative, challenging job offering me lots of career prospects but it’s actual employment. Employment that has a purpose, an output. With a level of responsibility that I have never experienced before. And enough income to actually be a tax payer, a contributing member of society. Almost (and I’ll say this very quietly because I don’t want to curse it), almost like a grown up.
And then once I’ve paid my income tax the rest of my earnings go on the rent for my little studio flat. Where aside from the occasions where it goes a few days without the washing-up being done and those nights when I can’t be bothered to cook so eat an apple and a packet of biscuits for dinner (ok, the apple is a lie) I live like a responsible adult. I go food shopping, I clean the kitchen floor (which is about a metre square but still) and sometimes I have vases of live flowers to look after.
Though I am still single. And nothing’s going to change on that front any time soon.
And now we’re going to take a short break while I teach you all a psychological concept. Something I learnt about back in the good ol’ days of A-Level Business Studies (read: absolutely horrendous and soul destroying days of A-Levels and I’ll do anything not to have to go back there, thank you): Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You can have no idea how much I hate myself for talking about this, I feel like such a hypocrite. When I first learnt about it I did nothing but moan (but then it was being taught in a 9am lesson so I was certainly within my rights to be moaning) and I’ve always mocked anything to do with psychological theories and profiling as complete crap but here I am anyway.
The basic idea is that you have a pyramid of needs and you have to satisfy each in turn before you can get to the next, the top being self-actualisation. Sound interesting? Not really. But you can read the Wikipedia article.
In my own personalised version I’ve always had the base covered – food, shelter, that’s been fine. If the second level was my health though I’ve been stuck on that for years. My one wish for that portion of my life was some sort of miracle cure. So obviously that isn’t what’s happened. Instead I’ve learnt a way around my health. Or at least fallen into a routine that works for me, for now.
Once that was settled I wanted some level of security and this job gives me that. Even though my contract might finish at the end of the year I’ve now got some solid experience to put on my CV and I’m fairly certain a few people who’d give me pretty glowing references. The prospect in terms of income and purpose isn’t anywhere near as bleak as when I went into this job.
So what is it I’m after now? What is my level 4, that one stage before I can achieve self-actualisation? Truthfully I don’t know. According to Maslow it should be esteem but I feel pretty good in that department actually. I’m confident in my friendships, my family and coming to actually quite like myself as a person. And that’s never really been the problem. I think what I’m most after is a little excitement, something a bit different.
Could the answer be that now’s the time to actually pursue that ‘dream career’ in publishing? No I don’t think it is. Through having a consistent job I’ve come to discover what it is I want from a job and I don’t think publishing would fit that criteria at all. I want something that I can see I’m actually making a contribution but go home at the end of the day and leave it behind. Nothing unnecessarily stressful and demanding, or that encroaches on my personal life and stops me enjoying my hobbies. Or in this situation, that one particular hobby.
It’s not that I’ve got stuck in a rut, that now I’ve found a job I want to hang onto it for dear life, it’s just that I never realised how much satisfaction you could get even from the most basic of jobs so long as you have some ownership of a task. And like I said right back at the beginning of this blog, one of my earliest posts, someone has to be doing the office jobs. And ten months on the thought that I might be one of them doesn’t fill me with terror anymore.
Or maybe it’s that this blog it’s doing its job just too well. It really has acted as an outlet for my bookish side so much so that I no longer feel the need to look for another one.
This has really been a very interesting exercise, looking back at my past through something I can use to tangibly compare ‘then’ and ‘now.’ The state of my life in 100 words or less. This time next year I wonder what those 100 words will be.