The perks of a Highly Ambitious Underdog

A post-graduate life can be unsteady in the beginning. The important thing to remember is that you're not alone. Below, an op-ed exploring the merits of all those rejection letters.

This is my life now. Or at least, this is the current slice that I’m staring down the nose of. Gone are the days (did these days even exist?) where I feel a need to post nice images and pretend that unemployment is fun and carefree. I have never felt this way. Since the infancy of my working life, I’ve always looked at jobs as an integrative act; a lifestyle. I work, bluntly, because it makes my life better. I want to make lives better, so I work. And also, like any good human with a will to survive, I like getting paid for my efforts. It isn’t the most important thing, but staying alive is and money, to a certain, albeit nebulous degree, allows for this to continue.

I am - at the moment I'm writing this - sans office 9-to-5, though I don’t feel discouraged in the least. I’ve touted my resume-sized satchel to job application after job application, tucking my textbook on quantum mechanics beneath whichever arm is least useful. Each interview has been breathlessly educational. Almost like dating, I’ve found myself devouring each interaction, floating over each as I seek the empty spaces I’m meant to - if I say the right things - fill. It’s rather exciting, this exchange of words, of ideas, of space and time. I hope I’m not alone in this breakdown of things. 

It’s rather exciting, this exchange of words, of ideas, of space and time. I hope I’m not alone in this breakdown of things.
— madison schill

Thing is, I do get the feeling that I’m rather confusing on paper. And though an individual’s essence on paper rarely matters in real life, in job interviews, it seems to act like the ultimate door of acceptance, favouring linear things like time, seniority (justifiably) and logical people. All things that on paper, I’m not. [Editor’s note: I’m happy about this.] 

“What precisely, is Metaphysics?”

This question greets me in about 97% of adult, job-related exchanges. I never really understood why these four university-saturated years of our lives defined so much of us, and why the fact that I spent those four years studying fundimental concepts related to human existence procured the same level of confusion in others. But to me, my degree made sense. I exited the runway, walking away from rooms packed with powerful, life-changing opportunities and felt a little...out of touch. I felt too self-important to be meaningfully selfless. I spent too much time questioning my worth; using a silly algorithm that factored height, weight and size, but nothing of connections, friendships, impact. It - this scary, philosophical, scientific degree - was grounding. It is grounding. And if I’m going to work in fashion, wouldn’t you agree that being grounded is smart? 

I spent too much time questioning my worth; using a silly algorithm that factored height, weight and size, but nothing of connections, friendships, impact.

Most people, when I try to explain my degree (I can’t, metaphysics is very nebulous because life is very nebulous!) might choose to laugh, look down and move on quickly. Some may widen their eyes and look unsure. You might feel this way, too - perhaps with a heavy helping of imposter syndrome for not knowing everything there is to know about your respective major. I’ve found that it - this process of understanding - works a lot like our approach to learning quantum mechanics, in that it's intimidating at first. You're too big a puzzle to solve, they may think, so perhaps you're not worth solving.

I think that’s wrong. I’m just like any other puzzle out there, I think. I just know that I’m complicated. 

Photos by Brandon Aviram
Grooming + Hair by Laura Noben

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