I absolutely love sharing a variety of people’s experiences after university. It’s great to hear a range of perspectives and to reinforce the idea that if you’re struggling, you’re really not alone.
In this post, I’d like to share some really thought provoking, relatable and wonderfully written poetry. I met Chris through my Instagram through a mutual friend, and really loved what he’d written. I’d never related to poetry so much, and I knew I wanted to share it with as many people as I could.
So, here’s a bit of background to Chris and his amazing poem, Loose Ends, all about graduate life and his take on navigating it.
What did you do at uni?
It’s not a particularly interesting story, unfortunately. I studied history at the University of York. Getting into a Russel Group university was a proud moment for me, as it was essentially the peak of my academic performance, which explains the immense struggle it took for me to achieve a 2:1.
Let’s just say, 60 is now my lucky number. 52, on the other hand, not so much – if you saw my dissertation, you’d understand why.I’m glad I achieved the 2:1 though, as I can only assume I would still be hunting for that elusive first career job now if I hadn’t.
What are you doing now?
I joined the world of marketing/advertising, working as a Content Executive, in March. It was a blessing to say the least, as before that I was a warehouse worker in order to combat the ill-advised, jobless move to London from rural Cheshire. Character building, my mum called it.
What made you start writing?
Writing had always been something that I thought would be a really cool thing to do, but unachievable. That you had to have some kind of innate, elusive intelligence or imagination, because that’s how it always seems at school. It’s never given as a legitimate career on careers day.
My second year of university taught me that: 1) it doesn’t have to be a career to be enjoyable, and 2) anyone can do it. It helped me through a dark and boring time during second year (for reasons I won’t bore you with) as I was looking for an outlet. Hence my first short story was born. It was garbage, but it was a start, and poetry shortly followed.
Have you struggled to find your feet in the world? What has helped to ease those feelings?
Finding my place in the world has always been an anxiety for me, especially during the time I was looking for a job. I was, and still am, a young, intelligent, driven and creative individual. That sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet, but there are so many grads that fit my same description.
Our generation is the most well-educated and socially conscious to have ever lived, and that mix can weigh heavy. I’ve always felt a desire to distinguish myself, and from discussions with my mates, I know I’m not alone. It’s no longer enough to simply get a job, buy a fancy car, raise a family and die – we want to impact the world. So yes, in short, I do struggle – but I know I’m not alone and I try and tell myself it’s a good thing.
Writing is a way in which I process these thoughts and explore my place in the world, particularly poetry, with it being such a spiritual and reflective endeavour. Writing fantasy can do the same, as escaping to another land with a fictive character can actually mirror my thoughts on the real world and help me make sense of them. And who knows, with all this writing, I may stumble across this distinction I seek for myself. Best not to put pressure on it though.
Can you give a background to ‘Loose Ends’? When and why did you write it?
I wrote ‘Loose Ends’ during my time working at the warehouse, having just moved to London. I would go to a coffee shop (God I miss coffee shops) and essentially splurge all my thoughts and feelings onto a piece of paper. They’d often come out in poetic form and that’s where the work was birthed.
This also explains why the piece is such an amalgamation of various emotions and thought processes, and for this reason, it was by far the most therapeutic and needed poem I’ve written. If nothing else, ‘Loose Ends’ and the accompanying poems allowed me to vent the anti-establishment attitudes that had begun to creep into my mind, with a genuine anger at the world for not giving me a job I felt I deserved. It’s an emotional and personal piece that’s for sure
When did life decide to throw up so many loose ends?
Where are your friends?
They’ve gone every which way, forgotten relationships you don’t have the time or desire to mend,
You feel twangs of sadness but its lingering leaves no trend,
You think of messages to send,
But why you’re doing it you can’t comprehend.
People come and go,
Such a chain of dead weight can’t be kept in tow,
But realisation dawns that the dead weight is you,
Therefore you keep strong bonds with the few,
They claim they believe in you and will always stay with you,
But how can it be believed when you can’t even believe enough to break your own barriers through.
There was always a next step,
Goals in the mind that formed structure and concept,
But one day it’s gone and you feel like for years and years you have slept,
Tied in an iron coil accumulating debt and the worry turns to crippling fret,
For what? And to what end?
You feel there is nothing to which your skills can put out an aiding hand.
The establishment doesn’t want you,
There is no merit to you,
Those close to you tell you don’t believe it, it’s not true,
You know this but it still doesn’t get through,
Doubts brew and hatred of yourself sprouts, strengthens and starts anew,
You want to vent and moan, but it all comes back to you.
Who knew? The person who had control was the one who’s mind you occupy,
Occupy because you feel that in your true body you do not lie,
The real you is somewhere else, getting by,
But maybe that is one huge lie,
Why should it all come together? The doubts don’t have to subside,
With self-pity you become tied and with an anti-establishment attitude you become solely occupied.
You’re alone and this only lowers the tone,
People don’t have to answer the phone,
They are only ever there with you as a disposable loan,
They will never belong to you, they have their own problems to own,
You can’t occupy their entire zone,
As much as you may believe it, the world is not yours to dictate and own.
Blows come at times you didn’t think possible,
Loss looms over you, a beast colossal,
Perspective only adds bitterness, you cannot mope when life is not total,
You have your health, you’re young, you have all reasons to be hopeful,
But your life isn’t even in front of you in note form,
The page is torn, the book disformed, hope forlorn.
As time passes and phases end, loved ones go with it,
This person could not dwell in this verse of your life’s sonnet,
You dwell on it, tears are shed on it,
Perhaps it serves as a line to not step back across and retrace on it,
Yet another reason to push forth and battle through it,
To sulk would be an insult to your namesake who you will always carry through it.
Rest easy, play freely,
Your creativity I will never replicate truly,
But I will try to harness your disregard for convention in my own creativity,
I’m just trying to find my way right now, things feel unruly,
Like a messy head of hair, I will harness the comb and eradicate the unruly,
Like you, it will all be breezy.
You left us unwillingly and for others that have, these loose ends will be tied,
Those that have left me through choice will be shoved aside,
Tears for them I have cried,
I’ve been deceived and told lies,
I’ve seen the deception in their eyes,
There will be plenty of reminders of what they have lost, what their own hurt has denied.
You know who you are,
I wish you happiness, you’re the ones who have to live with the scars,
The scars I hope plague you and make you question who you are,
What is dealt out will linger immensely far,
It sticks and coats like tar,
Look at yourself in the mirror and I hope what looks back is worthy of the past harm, but reservations about that I harbour.
Perhaps these blows are all a test,
Am I strong enough to rise to the top of the nest, above the rest?
For now it is all a mess,
I would say from my path I digress,
But never has the path seemed more distorted, its clarity less,
Never have I felt less fresh.
Give me something, anything,
Am I to be left with nothing?
Must I take everything for myself, stealing?
Stealing what I am owed whilst busy grieving,
It appears there is no time for healing,
My mind cannot switch off, it cannot ever stop believing.
Like the path in front of me these lines are an amalgamation of feelings, a shambles,
Ideas in handfuls, but in structure there are no bundles,
Doubt, like thunder, rumbles,
On and on and on, motivation only crumbles,
I just hope in this heap of nothing comes an opening in the trees, if so, into it I will stumble.
Just another, wonderful way that the struggles of adult and graduate life can be shared in writing.
You can find more of Chris’s poetry over on Instagram at @chris_extravastanza.
Want to read more from other graduates and young adults? You can find lots of graduate reflections here.