January 24, 2021
By: Nada Salem
As I kiss 2020 goodbye and pray to never see it again, flashes from the past year start to creep in. One moment remains memorable. A month ago, we were gathered around the television in my parents’ bedroom. Baba sat on the armchair in the corner, mama on the bed, me and my brother cross-legged on the floor sharing a bowl of popcorn. I chrome-casted the video from my laptop to the TV. “Gahzeen?” (Are you ready?)
I pressed play and the anthem began.
“Uff! Do we have to listen to the whole ceremony?” says Baba, glancing at his watch, “Just skip to the part where they say your name.”
“NO! If this was happening in person, we’d be standing up and singing too. Proudly and loudly.”
But of course, no part of this was sentimental. A graduation ceremony turned family movie night. Five months after it should’ve been celebrated. I graduated in June 2020. Smack dab in the middle of the modern plague. And here we were in November watching the Dean of Science call out our names on a youtube video set to 1.5x playback speed. Here’s the thing they don’t tell you about the convocation speech. It’s juicy, it’s appetizing, and its relevance is fleeting. It has a time and a place, and there’s a reason they feed it to you when you’re still the spirited, doe-eyed fresh grad. After months of drowning in the whirlpool of reality, all I could hear in my late convocation speech were pleasantries dolled up with empty praise and motivational fluff. An hour into ‘Our world needs you’ and ‘you’re the shapers and makers of the future’, I was on the verge of eruption. My society needs me? My skills are unique?
Really? I’m 5 months out of fantasy land, without even the scent of a livable wage, and trapped in a perpetual cycle of applying to jobs that ask for 3 – 5 years of experience, to start getting the 3 – 5 years of experience “necessary” to apply for an entry-level job. If the world really needed me, it sure had a twisted way of showing it.
But I have faith in the world, at least the one I’ve been brought up to believe in, and I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this is just tough love. The world’s way of bestowing upon me the resilience and perseverance to survive the rest of my journey through life. Who knows? Anyway. Day 1 of Month 5 of what seems like eternal unemployment. I’m 100 job applications past total despair and 1 away from joining the Netflix binge-watchers’ championship (of which I would be a sure winner).
Time to try something new.
Nada Salem is a recent science graduate fuelled by a childhood dream to be a writer. After studying Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology (and anything else too small for the eye to see), she’s now ready to explore the big things in life. She is currently figuring out how to navigate a new world, and how to use her powers for Good.
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