Wikipedia – the source of all essential and fact-based knowledge – informed me that many people of my age are considered a PETER PAN GENERATION. Danaaaa. So, self-explanatory really; we play casual flute to a young Victorian audience, then frolic about with a couple mermaids wielding a knife the size of a chipolata, and we’re adorable.
Well… half true. Actually, for us of the Peter Pan generation, jobs are of minimal availability, housing costs mean we will forever rent or live with our parents, and serious life commitments are generally avoided like swine flu. This results in an embedded ‘Ah well, I’m too young anyway’ belief that can develop into a permanent mantra. Early marriage is a no, as are lots of children – and why invest too much of ourselves into a job we’re not happy in, winding up cynical and annoyed at where we’ve ended up? Nah, life is much more fun if you just… drift. No big decisions = no big mistakes. To Neverland!
I’m going to precede this seemingly ungrateful spew by saying I survived unemployment hell , moved away and got a job - THANK GOD. It’s temporary but it is within the realms of existence: good thing. And it’s about time because, age-wise, I’m the oldest I’ve ever been.
So on the first day, I stepped onto my first commuter train and felt real life starting. It was good. I also heard my old duvet-based lifestyle of the Gods shrieking as it melted and steamed, like a cartoon in that goop stuff from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It was terrible. It is now bound to an exquisite Heaven, where alcohol is the most Bargainy of Booze and microwaves ping for all eternity. Oh, how useful I felt as a student, attending a single afternoon seminar, or downing five Sambuca shots, poker-faced (well. Spraying… two); but alas (…Mickey Finns), those achievements are no longer the measure of my self-worth. This is the working world, and if, like me, you picked a degree without overly considering vocation because you thought ‘academia’ would be ‘versatile’ (LOL), you might find yourself in an office with a seventeen-year-old. A seventeen-year-old, spawnofLordSugar, motherf***ing business DON. Your value is no longer dictated by your age or your education, but by your professionalism, skills and experience. Yeah. EXPERIENCE.
It’s all EXPERIENCE up in here. Guys…EXPERIENCE.
Back in the day, this was a magical word. It used to mean ‘Out of Body Experience’; ‘The Jimmy Hendrix Experience’. ‘Sexual Experience’. It’s now a prick, and won’t show up to the party when needed. Qualification is done – it now sprawls out on the sofa feeling needlessly smug. Grammatical Skill, always life and soul of the party – duh. But when all-holy Experience arrives, schmoozing, squeezing shoulders, topping up the Babycham; that’s when everyone relaxes and performs at their best. Oh look – even ‘Owns a Car’ is here, shuffling in late as an afterthought, belching. Wow, it’s so happy in this made-up party, of like, stuff on a CV – it’s just really, really happy. Thanks, Experience.
So that was a forced analogy. But Experience is pretty forced, to the point where job advertisements often SHOUT IN CAPITALS HOW MUCH THEY WANT IT. I want to be work-savvy, and wise. But as the world makes growing up seem scarier, with its CAPITAL DEMANDS and exclusive access, the less I want to be a grown-up.
Not everyone my age feels like a kid, but in countless ways, I do. This ‘working world’ is a parallel universe – one that was continuously moving whilst I wrote essays and chewed my sleeve. A world in which I’m now squashed among suit-clad citizens pouring from the commuter trains and marching briskly to their allotted stations, like ants into tall, concrete picnic baskets. I find myself mulling over memories of building a snowboy (last year), or accidentally squeezing my Ribena carton (yesterday), and when the boss leaves the office I want to shout ‘WHOEVER DOESN’T STAND ON THEIR CHAIR EATS BOGEYS!’ because I’m starting from the bottom, and having to make something of myself from scratch. Just like from Primary to Secondary, Secondary to College, College to University; every time you master your surroundings it changes, and before you know it you’re the clueless child again.
But despite the probable life-long emotional scarring, it’s not all that bad. I’m quite content in the assumption that the happiest working people still feel like kids too, putting their Career Masks on and thinking ‘I don’t know what the hell I just said’ after a big meeting with the Chairman. Maybe it’s not a grown-up job that turns you into an old git, but settling for mediocrity. Child-like adrenaline drives you forward, towards better things – just like when kids push harder on the swings to get higher, and when they jump off and stack it, just do it again. So that makes me feel better. In fact, it’s kids that should be piling into offices – they have a better attitude and get spinny chairs and everything. And we can pay them raisins. So… I can leave now, right?
*And that guy’s real name is ‘Party Guy’. Filth.