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Ambitions...

Today is an 'other ramblings' kind of day. This post may well read like a diary entry rather than a blog. As many friends know, I am having a complete downer about academia and jobs, etc. From the outset I will stress that I never began a PhD programme with the assumption or intention that I would follow an academic career. I did it because an opportunity came up, because I am passionate about the topic, I enjoy researching and writing, and because I wanted to see if I could. And I did. So have and will countless others. Now what? Back to retail it was, and my soul is dying.

I am grateful for the job and given that my boss is giving me heaps of overtime, I'm luckier than others, and I'd work at anything rather than sign on. But receiving the tiniest bit over minimum wage after working so hard for the past decade makes things difficult. I'm in so much debt I can't see straight, and the fatigue is incredible. There is no will left to carry on. I constantly verse myself on how grateful I should be, but I don't quite believe that. Personally, everything has been struggle and pain. So very rarely has there been cause for celebration or contentment. Studying was my escapism and I enjoyed the satisfaction that came from achieving goals. Now there is nothing to strive for. The next step is publishing and applying for jobs. I have severe academic writers' block and the last thing I feel like doing is writing articulately about how great I am and what an asset I would be to a given institution's film department. It's true that I would be, but I'm just too tired and apathetic to let them know. And do I want to be an academic anyway? Many of the old guard cannot grasp the angst of how next month's bills will be paid, that there is no choice but to take on a menial job to survive, or that even though you don't have children, you may still have people depending on you for certain things. Plus I think education systems are fundamentally flawed across the board. For a start, literacy levels of undergraduates are frighteningly poor - how do they do so well in A levels when so many do not have so much as an adequate command of standard English? And sure let's award good marks because, bless them, they tried. It's a money game driven by bureaucracy, management and league tables when it should be about learning, understanding, and sharing knowledge.

Academia and retail are all I am trained for. The state of things means that it is difficult to gain experience in much else when you choose a certain path. I have volunteered with events and arts organizations, but there's only so much time you can devote when submitting a PhD in three years is a financial necessity, i.e. there is no family money for support. I felt fine about this and accepted what is ahead of me to attain what I want until I began working in the shop. Most customers are local, professionally unemployed and have nothing better to do than to come in and buy junk food, lottery tickets, scratchcards and cigarettes several times a day, often wearing what they've just slept in. Never have I been more aware of men's foul attitudes towards women in my native EB. And you know what, most of the women blatantly encourage it and appear to enjoy it. They are pretty wily too. I have every confidence they are much smarter than me on a practical level but clearly found child benefits more appealing than applying that intelligence to anything constructive. I have only ever wanted to work hard at things that interest me with a bonus that those things might just help or interest other people. The constant battering from the non-working working class who expect everything when all they contribute to society is litters of nasty brats is breaking my will to carry on. So today I have decided that my reason to keep pushing, to somehow force myself out into the world, is to have a new ambition: to get the frig out of retail by any means necessary or die trying. And that it's okay to take the odd rest... eventually.

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