Saturday, April 9, 2016

Unproductive

The year was 2011. I spent my weekdays lying on the couch, playing on the internet, watching TV, eating junk food, and feeling all giddy as I daydreamed about seeing my boyfriend on the weekends. I wasn't working. I wasn't in school. I wasn't contributing to society. Life was good.

Okay, I shouldn't say it was perfectly good because I was honestly still depressed from college. I hadn't yet found anyone who would truly validate my feelings about what had happened, so I was still somewhat lonely and depressed as a result. But aside from that, I was doing fine. I made everyone think that I was actively looking for a job when I really wasn't because I didn't want to work. I was content to live with my parents and do zero work and contribute nothing to society and focus all of my energy on being all giddy and infatuated with my boyfriend. Life was good.

Then my 5-year class reunion rolled around. Now, I should mention that I've never been the competitive type. I didn't like being a "top student." I never really wanted to be in the National Honor Society and I hated that I had to get an award in front of the whole school for being in the top 10 of my class. I didn't care about anything like that. I wanted to make it as a Broadway star, not an academically successful student who goes to college and gets a "good" job. I never thought I'd be the type to be embarrassed about not having a job yet. As someone who wanted to be a Broadway star, I would think that having any job that did not involve being a Broadway star should be as equally embarrassing as having no job at all. But as the 5-year reunion approached, I began to feel uneasy about being unemployed. I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't even know what field I was going into. All I knew was that when I told people that I was "Looking for a job," it was a lie.

In preparation for the class reunion, I reminded myself that I had written a novel. Sure, it was June and I had finished the novel back in January, but no one had to know it. I would talk about my novel as if I had just finished it, as if that was what I had been spending all my time on rather than sitting on the couch watching TV and daydreaming about my boyfriend for those five months.

It wasn't that anyone said anything bad to me at the reunion. But I certainly was not as immune to the societal pressure as I thought I would be. (I say societal pressure rather than peer pressure because no one actually commented on the fact that I didn't have a job or pushed me in any way - it was the society I lived in that made me feel like something was wrong with me that I didn't have a job yet when everyone else did, especially when I graduated 8th in my class and got a medal for that in front of the whole school. There's a lot of pressure to live up to that title, even if I never wanted it). I got home from the reunion feeling like I NEEDED to do something with my life. The reunion just affirmed to me that I was actually a full year out of college - a little too long to feel comfortable being "just out of college" and that was why I didn't have a job and wasn't heading anywhere yet.

I talked to my parents about how I was feeling and how I had no idea what to go or where to go. The problem was that I had an undergrad degree in a field that I did NOT want to go into, and I didn't have much work experience. I NEVER WANTED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL, but I felt like I had no choice if I wanted to get a good job. I was dreading thinking about my future because I had this deep, dark feeling that if I wanted a job that wasn't minimum wage and that had normal hours, I was going to need another degree. I had always done work for my dad off and on, and I knew it was work I could do, work that didn't drain me, which was my number one priority. That was how I decided to go back to school and get a business degree - so that I could get a job. All the business jobs required business degrees. Most only required bachelor's, but my bachelor's was in psychology, and I didn't want to work in psychology. So I got my application in quickly and got accepted to grad school that coming September. I knew that for the next year and a half, life was gonna suck.

The truth is, I'm happy with where I am now. I'm glad that I have my own apartment and a steady, stable job. My dream is still to become a full-time writer, but for now, I love my coworkers and my job itself is actually not bad (it used to suck, but I got a much better-fit job in my department last September, and life has been much better since then). But I mean it seriously when I say that it was NOT worth going through what I went through to get here. I was just out of college. I was finally done with the fucking school system for good and ready to do what *I* wanted to do with my own life, which did NOT involve getting a job and being a productive member of society or doing any kind of work whatsoever, but involved lots of writing and daydreaming and just plain having fun. I was NEVER willing to sacrifice another year and a half of my life to the fucking school system, to have my priorities in someone else's order, to put my personal dreams on the back burner yet again. It was not worth it.

And what triggered me to get off the couch and do something "productive" with my life was that class reunion. It was seeing that everyone else was being productive and I wasn't. I was "supposed" to be productive because I was 8th in my class. Sometimes I wonder where I'd be if I'd never gone to that class reunion. I wonder if maybe I would not have sacrificed that year and a half of my life that I was never willing to sacrifice. I wonder if I'd still just be having fun instead of spending 40 hours a week being productive.

And that's what worries me about attending my upcoming 10-year reunion. I wanna go, but at the same time, I know that my entire life course got majorly screwed up as a result of going to my 5-year reunion. I went from doing no work at all to doing tons of work, all triggered by the social pressure I faced at that reunion. I had no life plans other than to keep sitting on the couch doing no work as long as I could, and the next thing I knew I was applying to grad school and then looking for a full-time job. I went from hiding from adulthood and all responsibility to actually acting like a responsible adult. It fucking sucked. And it makes me scared to go to another reunion because I don't ever want something like that to happen ever again.

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