I swiped my student card. I saw a big red cross flashing before me, instead of the usual green arrow that I was used to seeing. I noted that my student card expired on 22 October 2013 - that was yesterday. I checked my phone to make sure that it was still 22 October 2013. It was, which meant that the card had no reason not to work. I asked the security guy why my card wasn't working. After confirming that, yes, my course has ended, I had to sign in to my school like someone that used to be a student. They couldn't even grant me the courtesy of letting me use my card on the last day of its validity.
I felt spat out. Irrationally, I felt betrayed. More to the point, the reality of what I'm currently going through hit me in the face. The appearance of the red cross was a slap in the face and it stung for the rest of the day. I am no longer a student. I no longer have a valid reason to be unemployed. I am a job seeker in the great city of London - a city of sharks. I am a mere guppy, a minnow, a plankton, timidly navigating this vast ocean in which I find myself floundering about at the bottom of the sea, enveloped by its lack of light, looking up to the surface so far away, seeing only slivers of light that somehow manage to penetrate the thickness and depth of the ocean.
London is a city of sharks. I was a shark once - but I was a shark in a pond. London, this sprawling metropolis, choked to the brim with so many talented people and not enough opportunites for all, and helped not at all by the Tories' bullshit anti-immigration policies - where I come from seems so minuscule in comparison, even smaller, tinier, than it already is. This constant, daily struggle for just a fighting chance to carve out a new path for myself, to start a new life in a city that I have claimed as my own - I am not accustomed to it. The daily Internet searches, the forced attempts to fit me into jobs that don't fit me, the stinking desperation when I fill out a form for a job that I am vastly, VASTLY over-qualified for...I hate all of this. It was easier studying for exams. It was easier writing my essays.
It was easier in Singapore, my pond. In Singapore, I was the creme de la fucking creme. I could do anything I wanted; I could get virtually any job that I wanted. The employment market was my oyster. I had one of the two best degrees that you can get locally, I had working experience in a top law firm, I trained in another top law firm, I ended up in a well-regarded statutory authority. Why did I leave? Why am I refusing to return? With what is probably going to be a first class LL.M. degree from one of the best universities in the world, I will probably have very little trouble finding a job. Why am I struggling here, in London, living in a flat that I can't afford, burning money like it's made of paper, and torturing myself with periodic bouts of depression and hopelessness and defeat, and having to play tennis in a light drizzle and on wet courts that make the balls soggy and muddy?
Because: the ease with which everything fell into place, how I had everything mapped out for me without me having to lift a finger, bored me to tears. I don't want to be a shark in a pond. I want to be a shark where sharks actually live. Even without my human rights thing, Singapore has always been too small for me; my ambition - whatever it may be - exceeds its capacity. I am not used to struggling to get what I want; at the same time, I am not used to not getting what I want either.
I think this is by far the biggest challenge of my life. Now that I've finished feeling sorry for myself, I must say that it's pretty exciting.
On another note, I kind of just realised that my exam results have opened the door to my doing a PhD in Oxbridge. All I need now is a research proposal.
I honestly think that I'm more suited for academia. Unfortunately, I don't feel ready for it. And I don't have money. I really want to work because I need an income so that I can stop checking the prices of the fucking tomatoes and spinach in Sainsbury's and go back to what I used to do: see, want, take, pay. It was that simple. I don't even buy anything anymore; my online shopping activity has dwindled down to nearly zero ('nearly' because I bought some tennis stuff - but they were on sale), I don't physically shop anymore, and the only thing that I spend on these days is food. I still indulge in coffee though; if I stop drinking £2.70 lattes because of my financial situation, I might as well jump into the Thames.
Arnaud listened to me whine and cry for about 90 minutes, fighting through his bad Internet connection to be there for me when he couldn't be here with me.
I cannot believe that he exists. I just can't. I can't comprehend how sweet he is. And to my absolute surprise, he did make me feel so much better.
He made fun of my pet phrases ('yeah right!', 'duh!') and I made fun of his accent. I continue to be very amused by the way he says, "Old on!" and "Ow are you?" He said, "I don't see the point of pronouncing the 'h'."
Because, you know, there's a point to pronouncing the 'r' in 'iron'. He is so French - and I adore him to the exact extent that he is French.