Diary of an over-stressed masters student
by On Becoming Anna
After finishing my English Literature degree last year, I made the decision to continue in postgraduate study and complete a masters degree in 21st Century Literature. I absolutely loved my undergraduate course, have no experience in anything that’s not retail and quite frankly, am not ready to join the real world yet. Or at least I thought I wasn’t at the time.
The truth is, I have no idea what I want to do, or how to go about finding out what I want to do, and thought another year of being generally lazy, living with my best friends and my boyfriend, and occasionally reading and writing about sex would give me some time to get some experience and figure my life out. Obviously, in that delicious way life does, absolutely none of that is working out in the way I wanted to.
I have always been incredibly lucky to have the support, financially and emotionally, of my parents. Without them, my undergraduate degree would have been literally impossible, as with the lowest student loan, and the rent I had to pay in first year, I would have been £2000 in debt before I even set foot on the campus. But this year, as a newly 21 year old, I decided that I am a sassy and independent postgraduate with a £40,000 debt and that I didn’t want any financial help from my parents. They did their part, they paid me through uni, they did not bargain for a useless and incompetent graduate of the arts, who is basically just one giant hippy floating her way through life.
My younger sister, by the way, is only in her second year and basically has her entire life planned out already. At least they did it right the second time.
So anyway, me in my ignorant, self-important state, have decided to get two jobs to help me do those crazy fun things that you get to do in life, like eat and pay rent, and I finally feel like a real grown up adult. I never go out, all I ever seem to do is work or sleep, or complain about how much I work or how little I sleep, and I’m furious about the shit tip of my house and how everyone else still gets to go out and have fun whilst I am at home sleeping or working. All I want at the end of a day is a MASSIVE bottle of prosecco and I don’t really know when I became a middle aged mother who owns one of those wall stickers that says ‘Eat Laugh Love’.
I really thought I wanted to be an adult this year and take responsibility but it turns out being a grown up is fucking miserable and I hate it. I love my course, which is basically paying £10,000 for four hours a week of talking about words and stuff, which sounds horrid but I quite like it, but oh my God I am knackered and it’s only been four weeks. I swear I’ve aged about nineteen years in a month and I am losing the will to live. I don’t want to be surrounded by shitty students who live in utter grime, I don’t want to be woken up at 5 in the morning by someone vomiting into the bathroom upstairs (yes Jack and Joe, you knew you’d get an honorary mention (still love you)), I WANT TO GO TO BED AT A REASONABLE TIME AND WAKE UP TO USE A TOILET WITHOUT SKID MARKS IN AND ONLY GO OUT ON A FRIDAY NIGHT SO I HAVE A WHOLE ENTIRE TWO DAYS TO RECOVER FROM THE MONSTER HANGOVERS I HAVE SUDDENLY DEVELOPED SINCE I TURNED 35.
Sometimes I think the thing I’m most pissed off about is not the fact that everyone else is going out and being baby students, but the fact that I can’t. I literally do not have the time. I don’t have the energy to pretend like I’m not holding sick in my mouth at work anymore; I want to be well rested with a nice hairdo and good-looking lipstick before I begin a 9 hour shift, not still wearing last nights makeup because it means I can have an extra fifteen minutes in bed. But then I also think that this whole time I am mad about not wanting to be an adult, but without realising or meaning to, I have accidentally become one. I feel like a fully grown lady surrounded by drunk babies and all I want to do is start real life.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my course, and in the long run I know that this year will be really good for me. I am in no rush to live in the real world on my own and I know that a big girl job will be out there somewhere when the time is right for me,and a masters is just one extra thing that I have that not many other people do, but I do wish I maybe had five seconds to myself to chill out or to read something I actually want to read, or had money to not only pay the rent but to buy myself a really super cool leopard print fur coat, and didn’t have to scrape five day old carbonara off my John Lewis non-stick pans. I wish I had thought this year out more in my head, and how everything was going to work out. I wish I’d have spoken to previous masters students that may have been in my position to manage my expectations of exactly how this year was going to be, because to be honest, I had absolutely no idea and it’s proving to be a bit of a difficult transition from what I’ve been used to.
For the first time in my life, I can’t wait to be done with education: to just go travelling and relax for a while, then suddenly fall into my perfect dream job that pays £100,000 a year with bonuses on top, where I can wear anything I want to and I never have to work Wednesday nights when the Bake Off is on. That would be the absolute dream.