My commute to Magill takes almost one and a half hours each way – a three-hour round trip. Three years, six semesters, three hours, twice a week. That’s approximately 432 hours (or 18 days) spent with my arse squished against the driver’s seat of my car.
I would like to say I spent this portion of my life wisely, but for the most part, it was occupied by: laughing shamelessly at My Dad Wrote a Porno while stopped at traffic lights; discussing the evening’s dinner menu with my mum on speaker phone; finding short-lived inspiration through TED Talks (see: How to Tame Your Wandering Mind and other things that I Will Never Do); and enduring abominable pop hits on commercial radio (I will drive my car into said Castle on said Hill).
But of course, in between such futile attempts at distraction, everyone knows that long drives are the perfect place to think yourself into oblivion. The theme of this year’s obsessive thought pattern has been fixated on a scary reality I’ve been forced to acknowledge: graduation. Because, once you’ve thrown that overpriced square headpiece into the air and people ask, ‘What are you up to these days?’ you’re suddenly unable to rely on the default answer of ‘studying’. What the heck will I do with that parchment? What even is a ‘career’? How do I pick one? I don’t even know what I want for lunch.
The once comfortable, coddling arms of your tutors will push you out into a world of uncertainty, overwhelming choice and ultimately, unemployment.
By now it must seem that my view of the future is somewhat pessimistic. This outlook is strongly encouraged by a number of world issues; rapidly increasing greenhouse gases, microplastics, ongoing armed conflicts, large areas of burning forests, raids on journalists, et cetera.
But recently, upon the thousandth revisit of my personal inadequacies and fear of the post-graduation abyss, I heard a voice. As I stared vacantly at the grey sky looming above the southern expressway, still unable to come to any decisions regarding my life’s path, a slight break in the cloud cover allowed a tiny ray of sunshine to caress my pasty white forearm.
I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I like to think so.
The clouds continued to separate as I edged my window down. A cool breeze swept away the stuffy air inside my car and sent a wave of goosebumps over my skin. I turned the little grey knob clockwise.
… I’m young and I’m underpaid
I’m tired but I’m working, yeah
The bloke in a car to my right seemed to be tapping his steering wheel to the same beat. Was he hearing this too? His lips moved to summarise the exact sentiment of my final university semester:
I’m lost but I’m hopeful, baby.
Although I’d like to boast that this spiritual experience was delivered personally by the hand of God – and that the tradie sitting in the overtaking lane understood me on a strangely intimate level – we may have to acknowledge the power of the crackling radio in my purple Fiesta, a long-overdue hit of vitamin D, and the lyrical genius of our beloved Alanis Morissette.
Because, folks, that beautiful bitch is right:
What it all boils down to, is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet.
‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket, and the other one’s holding a whopper of a HECS debt.
But who the heck cares?
‘Cause everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine.
Words by Poppy Fitzpatrick
This piece was originally published in Edition 31.