Derailed; that’s how I felt after my graduation.
I now had a 2:1 degree in Media Art and English that I didn’t know what to do with.
I had fallen victim to the myth that going to university to get a degree was a guarantee of success, that it would somehow become a golden key with which to unlock a treasure trove of job opportunities.
What had my degree actually taught me?
It had nurtured my interest in photography. It let me play around with video-editing and film-making. I had dabbled in creative writing and written more essays than I ever wanted to write again.
Had it actually provided me with any solid skills?
No, it hadn’t.
My degree proved that I enjoyed the creative process, but it had failed to direct me to a clear career path. Like so many graduates before and since, I ended up back in my hometown, living with my parents, with no clue about what I would do next.
So what did I do?
I got a job running the cloakroom in a nightclub, as a temporary measure until I found a full-time job.
It was as grim as it sounds; looking after people’s coats while they danced and drank the night away.
The end of the night was worse; handing coats back to crowds of drunk people.
One night one of the bartenders failed to show up, so I was asked to take his place; it was a horrible experience. Trying to listen to what people wanted to order, calculating totals in my head, my shoes sticking to the floor behind the bar, clumsily pouring pints of beer, measuring shots of spirits as if I knew what I was doing, looking hopelessly at the swarms of people all rushing towards the bar, not knowing who to serve next.
That night couldn’t end soon enough. What I learned from this experience: nightclubs look grubby and depressing when all the lights are switched on.
Footnote: the nightclub is long gone, and has been replaced by a Wetherspoons. People generally agree that this is an improvement.