An Existential Quandary
Having never managed to get round to reading Sartre’s Nausea, I recently checked the general meaning of existentialism with my younger, learned brother. He described it as thus:
..when you come to a point of questioning so much how the world got to this point that you almost consider it fractured and as a world unreal…
If this is the case, I feel I have been correct the many, many times that I have reached for the phrase and decided to apply it to my life. It’s seen me through sixth form, periods of involuntary social inertia and more pressingly, my career.
My long-term job?
My job that must be a career by now because I don’t try to leave it.
And really, this difficulty to categorise, to sum up the actuality of where my body has settled that my brain wills it on from, is the greatest, if not main reason for the constant invocation of a theory set down by a French man (he was French wasn’t he?) that I have never found the time to read.
How has my world stopped and sputtered at the gates marked Fruitless Endeavour? There was even a signpost that read ‘EXIT HERE TO AVOID BRAIN DEATH’ but I passed that by around the spring of 2009.
But, for all my complaints, I took a route and exhibit a pressing reluctance to leave. For this account to be completely true, I owe a clear, simply set out explanation of how it came to this. Before the light of ambition was snuffed out, before the glow of motivation died.
Before these things, there was a plan.
By 2010 the plan had started to unravel. But, the time before that, from 2004-2009, the plan had been 75% exercised. A degree had been started and finished, a good result had been achieved; I was able to say
I am a Law graduate
but I’m not quite sure how often I did. I definitely don’t now. In the August of 2007, I embarked on what should have been my final year of full time study under the strict regime of the Legal Practice Course, a practical framework so dry that the wood had chipped and onlookers suspected imminent forest fire.
£10,000 for the pleasure, which coupled with a 7.5% fixed interest rate (I thought I was being sensible to avoid the unpredictable meaning of ‘variable’) increased the fees to produce a ten year repayment plan that never seems to decrease.
The course was arguably insufferable – a constant tide of group exercises, dynamic problem solving and a library of books collected on the first day that could proudly break the back of a cart drawing horse. Or the boot of my father’s car.
However, the intensity of the approximately 10 month course was a constant drive to push on. The January blues of black mornings and frozen fingers was unaided by the never ending modules, though I had started to really enjoy the walk from Charing Cross Station to Tottenham Court Road. I even invented games to make avoiding crowds fun, like the one where I pretended they were zombies and I’d have to avoid colliding with them to ensure my non-zombie state. I was in my early twenties. Early, mid, what’s the difference now anyway. Then there was a death in the family that was so close and unexpected that the dirge of the LPC felt a million miles away, a luxury of angsty boredom that rightfully belonged to another life.
Finally, May – perhaps June rolled round, the study requirements ended and I traced my initial and surname in The Times, a tiny print amongst the hundreds perhaps thousands of eager and anticipatory post-graduates emerging just that summer, from just that college. Around the country – thousands is definitely the correct ball park figure – finished the identikit courses at a variety of (expensive) providers.
So, in the summer of 2008, I found myself with nearly a full set of equipment to complete the plan, The sole item I lacked was the ambitious confidence that had dwindled remarkably over the second half of the LPC, and that little matter of a training contract.
The training contract was the golden ticket – seemingly impossible to arrange, despite the rolling publication of the Training Contract Handbook, which I excitedly cracked the spine of during my second year at undergraduate level, before feeling overwhelmed by the pages and pages of tiny font firms that I would plan to apply to – the single, even double page spread firms were, as I had discovered at another point, out of my league. I made applications throughout the second, third and post-graduate years and received in return a shower of personalised emails with variations on the theme of how many applications they receive each year and how sorry they are that it wasn’t me that year.
I took their multiple apologies and turned them into Plan B – a much better plan, through which I would manage a Paralegal role (usually earning about £12-14,000 at the time), show the firm how useful I was and eventually win a heartfelt training contract.
I was ripping up a notebook and found that I had written the above into it. I think I wrote it about a year and a half ago when I was working in the worst job ever for about the third and a half year. This was the end of this section, with nothing following it. I may aim to carry on where it stops!