Recently it’s been freshers’ week for a lot of students in Manchester; it seemed impossible to get through town without being stuck behind groups of young people, huddled in packs like penguins trying to survive they first winter out on their own. This combined with me recently being asked to fill in the ‘Graduate Outcomes’ survey (a survey sent out to graduates 15 months after their studies), has had me thinking a lot about my life right now, and how far I’ve come.
The graduate survey focuses on a graduate’s career and how their degree helped them get to that point. I currently work as a baker, a career decided detached from my studies in English literature. The survey asks questions about how much you get paid, whether you are responsible for the management of others, what contract you’re on and what hours you work. Work is the key word, and even that is boiled down to wages, hours, titles and teams. It gave me no opportunity to talk about the cake I made which the customer loved so much she gave me a tip to specifically buy a glass of wine, or the cake I made for a little girl’s birthday that I was so proud of I’ve put it all over my social media, or all the times I’ve focused so hard that I felt like my eyes were burning and I’d not breathed properly in hours. And beside all of that, they was no where to talk about what I do outside of work, as if I was only deemed as valuable as the sum of my time sheets.
Where I am and who I am now compared to where I was in my fresher’s week is the sum of a lot more things than my career. I am valuable for all the things I do that aren’t linked to monetary gain; something easy to forget in this capitalist society. I am a baker for 35 hours a week. I am a creator, a cook, a friend, a writer, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister. I like eating noodles on the weekend and going to the cinema to watch scary movies, taking naps on Sunday afternoons and playing video games badly, I like to read more than I ever did while studying. I miss the friends I made in that week of University and all the friends I made along the way, I love the friends I have now. I miss writing essays sometimes and yearn for library days. I like to travel but hate to fly. I like the sound of rain on the roof and the whir of the traffic in the night. I am reflective and sensitive, a hopeless romantic, an empath and a worrier. I have grown into my body and my face, and love the reflection that I used to hate.
Sometimes I am happy and sometimes I am sad.
Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going but I feel stable in where I am.