This summer university campuses across the land will bear witness to final-year students tossing mortar boards into the air amid scenes of jubilation to celebrate their collective academic success. Many graduates will return home for good in search of work and find themselves facing up to the grim reality of unemployment, a term synonymous with notions of failure and despair, and about as far removed from the joy of a graduation ceremony as you can get.
I graduated in July 2010. I’d had three years suckling on the frosty teat of independence, living away from home with friends and ‘finding myself’ as is de rigueur for the arts student. My student house was shambolic; the washing up never seemed to get done, we’d stay up all hours philosophising about life and no one ever had any milk.
The halcyon days of going to bed at daybreak and irregular mealtimes were soon over. I moved back in with my parents after my graduation ceremony with high hopes of moving out imminently and reclaiming that independence. Except living at home was different now. There were grumblings about how I would have to “pay my way” and “earn a living”. I couldn’t dangle the unconditional-love-of-a-mother-to-her-child carrot in an attempt to sponge off Ma and Pa any longer as this “child” was now a 21-year-old man. The good life was over, but who was I to complain? I expected to find a job soon enough.
I kept reading in the papers how I was part of a “lost generation”, as if I’d sacrificed myself in World War One or something. What if I could never have a career? Continue reading