(This may make no sense – it was first written before Christmas, while doped up on cold and flu medication with a fever – but I still think it was a point worth making.)
When I was sixteen, taking AS-Levels at a sixth-form college in Stoke-on-Trent, I spent a lot of my afternoons waiting for classes to start in a tiny corridor that only languages students seemed to be able to find. Taking French and German, I knew this corridor very well indeed. In that little bit of time I had for myself, I’d sit there with my iPod nano (remember those?) plugged in, listening to whatever came up on shuffle. I was just getting into discovering things that weren’t My Chemical Romance or Green Day or Muse, and, in true hipster teenager style, I’d kind of fallen across The Smiths. Okay, I’d discovered them through a Muse cover of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, but I was soon digging my way through back catalogues. My German teacher, an ageing former goth, would frequently ask me what I was listening to. I’d tell him, and it was usually Muse, except for one occasion, when I announced I was listening to The Smiths. He looked at me, and shook his head in disbelief.
“You’re too young to listen to The Smiths.” He said.
I thought he was wrong. I understood The Smiths. Of course I did. I was seventeen. My whole life had changed over the course of five months. I’d changed schools, made new friends, lost old ones, and I’d just lost my grandmother. Add that to battling what I now know to be anxiety and depression, and I thought I knew it all.
Except I didn’t.
For years, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now was my jam. I knew how it felt. I was miserable, watching my friends get loved up, leaving me behind in the dust trails of their new-found lust. That’s a thing I genuinely wrote at that age. Cringeworthy. For years, (and perhaps it still is), my Valentine’s Day tweet would be ‘two lovers entwined pass me by, and heaven knows I’m miserable now’. Because I just got it. But this isn’t what I’m on about. It’s the line afterwards. For the uninitiated, it’s in the title.
When you’ve just graduated, the next obvious step is getting a job. You put your heart and soul into it. Maybe you’re lucky, and you get an offer straight away. Maybe you’re not. Maybe after a month, two months, six months, a year, you’ve still found nothing. And you get desperate. You take what you can. And sometimes it doesn’t work out.
Sometimes you find yourself sitting at your desk, wishing for it to be 6:30, so that you can go home. And then you go home, and you’re knackered, so you can’t be bothered to go out. Maybe you’ve moved towns and know nobody in the new one. Maybe the weekends are lonely, and the weeks are exhaustingly long. Suddenly, you find yourself wishing you’d just got a retail job in your uni town, scraping pennies at the end of the month, but at least you’d have a decent social life. But then again, you didn’t get a degree to work a zero-hours contract in Sports Direct. You went in to try to better your prospects. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by giving up a well-paid job just so you could have a life.
Or would you? I’m of the strong belief that we only live once. Once you die, that’s it. No more, no second chances. I don’t want to find myself on my deathbed, wishing that at twenty-two, I packed that job in earlier. I want to look back and know that for the most part, I was happy, and I hope that I’ll have no regrets.
Why am I worried about this? I don’t want to give away too many details; I’m probably identifiable enough as it is on here. All I can say is that I’ve realised that my job is not as stable as it seemed. If I were living with my parents, it’d be no big deal if I got sacked. I’d just find another job. I mean, I wouldn’t be paying rent – their insistence, not mine – and living costs would be lower than where I currently live. Here, though, it’s different. I’ve got rent to pay, and it’s not cheap. My paycheck more than covers it, thankfully, but if I lost my job on Monday, I wouldn’t be able to stay here until my contract finished. If I take on a longer placement here, and lose my job, I’ll forfeit the deposit, which is no small sum. It’s worrying.
But then again, I’m lucky enough to have found a job. Some of my friends are still unemployed, after months and months of searching and very few responses, none of them positive. I know I shouldn’t turn my nose up at such a fantastic opportunity, but it’s all getting me down. I had a sort of appraisal recently, and my boss asked me how happy I was in my personal life. I told him a barefaced lie. I told him I was relatively happy. I’m not. I’m worn out.
Maybe Col was right. Maybe I was far too young to appreciate The Smiths.