One of the main problems of being a graduate type is that when you graduate and don't fall into your dream job (or indeed any job at all), it leads to a strangely existential crisis. You see, for years and years you were just 'a student'. Okay, not just a student, but the studying was essential to your understanding on yourself. Student discount, student politics, student feminism, student geek, student historian. They come with their own assumptions and values, which can often be negative but have positive connotations for the student themselves. My sister thinks students are lazy scum, but I rather like students.
So the crisis when you leave university and lose the label is something of a traumatic thing. Having been defined for so long by your full-time life, it's horrible having to be 'Second Accounts Assistant' or 'Retail Assistant' because quite simply it's not as snappy a title. Even those in their dream jobs are generally struggling a little, as many titles don't trip off the tongue. And 'job seeker' just doesn't sound good, even if it's not a negative thing in itself.
Tackling it is difficult. I take the self-deprecation route, myself, and go for 'Office Monkey' or 'Admin Bitch' depending on my mood. Or I lie at parties, which is morally wrong but I like to see what I can get away with. It was a moment of some distress when I got married and filled in a census in a twelve-month period and realised that I would, historically speaking, forever be tarred as 'Administration Clerk' for the rest of my life. Hell, I put down 'clerk' instead of 'assistant' just to sound a bit more historical. I wanted to put astronaut, but the council office were pretty insistent that was illegal. I wonder if on <i>Who Do You Think You Are 2150</i> some descendent will look at me and just think I was boring based on the records. I hope not.
My trick, these days, is to look at the other things in my life, and create a series of labels that aren't based around my job. Yes, I'm an office monkey, and that is a big part of my life. I'm also a writer. I'm a feminist. I'm a geek. I'm lots of things that are separate to me as a worker, and it's with that I keep my happiness and my sanity.
Another label I can take on for the next fortnight is 'traveller'. Having managed to get my laptop back, I'm on the road as of Friday, finally getting to go on honeymoon. As I only have a year left to be classed as a 'young person' (another label!) according to Interrail standards, I'm off around Europe for two weeks with Mr DG and probably too much beer. As such, this is another hiatus announcement, but things should settle down when I'm back. Probably.