Underpaid and Overworked

I recently watched Bo Burnham's Netflix special ‘Inside', and it got me thinking. I was originally going to write about the month I spent living in a camper with my boyfriend in May of 2020, but that wouldn't fully capture my experience of this entire lockdown. So here it is. My quarantine began much earlier than most people. After graduating high school in June of 2019, two-thirds of my family moved in with my grandparents. Those three-quarters being my mom and I, leaving my older sister behind in a gamer den with her soon to be fiancé. After taking refuge in my mom's parent's basement and guest room that summer, I frantically applied to the local University and was shockingly accepted at the last minute. I would be going to art school. Whoop. Don't get me wrong I love being creative, but forcing myself to make art on a whim has never been my thing. Anyway, of course, because I love stressing myself out, I applied for a job around the same time and started working on the opposite side of town. Did I mention my boyfriend got signed to a hockey team two provinces away at this time as well? So not only was I starting a new job, but I was also starting University and keeping up a long-distance relationship. So began the arduous journey of getting up at 6:30 in the morning to rush off to the bus stop with my arms full of art supplies. Two hours on the bus, eight hours of classes, and then, of course, two more hours home. Then came the hours of meticulously sketching, smudging and setting of work that would be looked at for ten minutes and set aside for new homework. Most nights I stayed up until one or two in the morning to get my studying done, just to wake up in a few hours and do it all over again. All while working on the weekends as a lifeguard and swim instructor. Our one year anniversary was a rough one. It's definitely something I will never forget. It was a Saturday, so I was working and honestly a bit exhausted after only a month of the rigorous University program. All was fine until I had a full-blown mental breakdown on my lunch. Don't ask me why, my mind works in mysterious ways. Maybe it was because instead of spending it with the love of my life having fun, I was around a bunch of underpaid overworked teenagers who couldn't care less about their job. I had a lot of breakdowns during those few months and I'm just starting to see why. I can't say my University experience was a complete failure though. There were some moments that made me want to hang on even longer than I did. Halloween was one of these moments. We all got to dress up (not that art students don't already dress eccentrically every day) and in drawing class, our teacher posed dressed as a clown for our reference. Another eye-opening moment was when I got my highest grade (and one of the highest in the class) on a project I put zero effort into. Zero. Zilch. But because I said it was a commentary on the arbitrary monetary value we place on things and time, I checked all the boxes. It was at that moment I realized I didn't want to go to University anymore. Also, the fact that I had a professor tell us in lengthy detail about his University debt and how we would be walking away with a piece of paper at the end of this all. That whole experience was like quarantine in itself because I didn't go out anywhere in my free time, I almost never saw my family because I left early in the morning and got back too late at night, and I only ever saw the same people in my classes. But that wasn't even the worst part. After quitting University, I cruised along, working here and there until IT came. In March of 2020, everything was closed down. The University, the pools, and the border. I think that's when my last ounce of sanity truly went down the drain. It was such a contrast to the amount of work and effort I had exuded in the months prior that all I could do was sleep, eat, and stare at the ceiling. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but when I think back to it, the month of March is like a blank slate in my mind's eye. The biggest thing I learned from the past year has had to be that University was a huge waste of my time. Wait no, it did teach me that, so maybe not. But really, my time since graduating high school has been wild and I have learned so much about myself and what I want from life. I've learned more about myself in the last two years than in my entire twenty years of existence, and I've come out of it being an even more creative and decisive person. So I would like to thank myself. Thank you for making it through to the other side and being even more of a pain in my ass to stick to my goals and dreams. *Raises glass of non-alcoholic beverage* Here's to another few years.

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William

artist, musician, writer, Luddite

Troy, United States