Although I've tried to keep a lighthearted tone on here, the truth is that over the past month, unemployment and no social life had started to really get to me. Yes, it's nice to have Abundant Spare Time, but when you're broke, in a small town and you see people your age maybe once a month, you feel your sanity draining away.
Maybe I'm being a little unfair. It's not like I have no income at all, as I've been doing a respite care job every so often - that I really enjoy - but that's not a living wage. I just thought that by this stage, a year after graduation, I'd be at least half on my way to getting somewhere.
So I'd been all set to move to Birmingham this weekend, due to knowing lovely people who'd be able to offer me a room there. The idea was that by living in a city, it'd be easier to find a job. In the end - after not really finding any suitable jobs in the area - I reassessed my priorities and the fact there were other people who needed to take that room, and I took a risk: I pulled out.
Why did I do that? Well, in my despair, I'd been messing around one day, looking up jobs in Berlin (where I've dreamt of living since I was 18). I stumbled upon what was pretty much my dream job. At this point, they've acknowledged my application and expressed the desire for an interview, but I am trying to just take the rest as it comes.
I hadn't seriously entertained the idea of moving to Germany for at least one more year yet, but before long I was clinging so tightly to the idea that I couldn't give it up and couldn't imagine doing anything else. I felt it was finally time to go after what my heart really desired. Some might call it stubborn, or naive; I call it realistic. My combination of experiences, especially over the last year, has given me this new and vital perspective that doesn't allow for going around in circles. I needed to do something for myself, take initiative, after the various dung that life has thrown at me this year, not to mention the difficult lessons that I myself have learnt.
Or, perhaps I wasn't just "messing about" when I looked up jobs in Berlin. Since I returned from Canada, I've been busting my butt trying to get work or even experience in the UK - and this not even always in positions that are directly related to my degree. I'm unsure what all those careers advisors meant when they said that employers are thirsty for language graduates, because there is nothing out there unless you want to be a teacher (respect to those who are, though) or you already have a degree in Business and happen to know a couple of languages on the side.
This all led me to finally accepting something I have long suspected: that living in the UK is not really an option for me if I want to really use my skills to the max and follow my dreams. It's a frustrating reality but it's quite exciting at the same time. I have lived abroad enough times now to know that hell no, it's not a walk in the park, but it's what makes me feel alive and useful. Which is what matters, right?
Also, this year's European election result was a major wake-up call; I can no longer take EU mobility for granted, now that my country's place in it all is going to be shaky over the next few years. I was initially angry about it, then I quickly realised how important it was for me to establish a base for myself in Europe, the sooner the better.
Anyway, I've had to learn to treat job applications as a fun exercise. You need a positive attitude for that, and that hasn't been quite as difficult seeing as the positions I've seen advertised around Germany are closer to anything I want than I have found in the UK. I'm also trying to apply the outcome (or the foundation?) of a positive attitude: self-respect. I am becoming less obsessed with checking my emails to see if anyone's got back to me. Most brutally, I have had to learn how to be patient, patient, patient. Being unemployed - especially while you are so far away from the aspects of life that are important to you, like friends and culture - is exasperating. But wallowing in it isn't going to change that. Yes, I do cry about once a week when I feel like I'm going be stuck here forever. The good thing, though, is that I no longer feel like that the majority of the time. Since I've embraced other options - the options truest to my values and passions - I've felt a new lease of life.
By putting this all out there I am being brave, because I may well fail. But the time has come for me to finally give it a real shot.