I had a rough info session this week. As part of my job for the Career Center, I spend certain number of evenings a month setting up and tearing down information sessions. It’s not hard work, nor particularly satisfying, but it is a chance to be kind for yourself and it’s good for the university.
What made this info session terrible wasn’t any logistical chores–it was the recruiter’s clothes. They were beautiful. The three recruiters each had well tailored, expensive, new suits.
I had started the day feeling like a social butterfly: I wore my men’s-style white collared shirt–because dressing conservatively gives me confidence–my deep blue jeans which fit, and my favorite boots: knee-high leather lace-ups. It was an outfit I could bike in, walk in, and talk in.
And now I felt positively pupal.
This was not their problem: as Eleanor Roosevelt says,
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
I never feel like I’m consenting to feeling cruddy, but interacting with the folks representing a company I have no interest in working for and who were only part of my life for about 45 minutes made me want to crawl into a bucket.
I usually have little patience for my own self-pity, but I’m writing about it here to try and understand it. I know I clean up well; I own a number of expensive-looking and well-fitted outfits. I’ve never had complaints about my ability to dress myself, and though I’m not fashionable (because I’d rather spend my money on travel and books), I know how to dress to fit in.
The problem is that their clothes reminded me of how unfinished I am. Looking slick, representing their company, their clothes were just the exclamation point on their projected sentence:
“I am successful!”
Don’t get me wrong: my definition of success is not a Gucci suit or even the money to pay for one (reason 4589 why I won’t be applying to that company). But I crave to feel more finished, to have a set place in the world where I know my job and how I’m measured and what I need to do. Being a 5th Year Scholar is such a liminal enterprise, I’m feeling lost and like I’m breaking a path no one needs broken.
As I’ll tell my students tomorrow when we go over our 5 Year Plans, being unfinished is part of the gig when you’re 22. Feeling pupal seems normal.
So I’ll hang out in my college cocoon until May, and maybe even longer. The average lifespan of a butterfly is about a month and I’ll need a lot longer than that.
“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.”–Vita Sackville-West