I had caught wind of the advent of Lena Dunham’s Girls on Twitter a while back but had thought nothing of it. I then read an article in the London Review of Books about it and my curiosity was somewhat more peaked. Then, last week, after feeling very sick and incapable of any genuinely productive activity, my friend suggested putting myself to bed with my laptop and watching it. I duly downloaded Season One and watched it within a few hours, gripped by the wondrously confused feelings of endearment and loathing of these four privileged losers.
The show is a brilliant depiction of the sloth and stasis which comes with the current generation of graduates; a generation with perhaps a more enhanced sense of entitlement in an environment with far fewer prospects than previous decades. At the same time, the ‘struggle’ which the show’s lead protagonist Hannah articulates as “trying to become who I am” is one reserved for the privileged: those who can afford to intern, to mire themselves in indecision and human experience, while their parents foot the bill. It is this sense of personal and professional purgatory which both resonates and repulses, as the girls whiningly, indecorously and self-indulgently claw their way to adulthood and independence.
Despite having graduated myself over five years ago, I cannot help but feel similarly cemented in this pit of contradiction. Having a child has in many respects prolonged the inevitable question: what is it I’m supposed to be doing, career-wise? I have been able to stave off some of the oppressiveness of this looming issue by embarking on part-time work that accommodates my childcare needs, but this is somewhat of a band-aid. At some point, progression will need to occur.
The more fixated with the notion of ‘career’ I become, the more stark the contrasts seem. Increasingly I feel left behind as I look on Twitter feeds of people I knew to be in a similar position to me a couple of years ago, but are now parliamentary candidates, coordinators of NGOs and leading academics. Perhaps in my twenties this would be excusable, but as a thirty-something woman, it’s just a touch on the sad side. Am I lazy, or am I simply arrested in some kind of extended adolescence, too preoccupied with ‘trying to be who I am’? Whatever that is.
Like many other lost souls out there with no discernible skills beyond those generic ones of writing, research and critical thinking bestowed on most graduates, I have decided to turn to self-help (with a degree of tongue in cheek, you understand) and capitalise on the only incipient skills in my possession.
Before I left for England in 2008, I was seeing a chap in Sydney who highly recommended Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self (alarm bells should have been vigorously chiming regarding his suitability for me, but as I was leaving the country, any warning seemed rather redundant). It’s shit of course and the pages of my copy are all stuck together because my cat, as a kindly parting gesture before I left the country, decided to strategically urinate on it. I’ve attempted the exercises in the course at least five times now over the years before flaking out of the incredible cringeworthiness of it all. But, I feel I may be in a position to give it one more go, if for no other reason than to have some new material to spew forth on the pages of this completely indulgent blog of mine.
Week One: Recovering a sense of Safety
- Take yourself on an artist date (will report back later on this)
- Time travel: list three old enemies of your creative self-worth. (1. That dickhead in my first year law class who told me I would be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Fucker. 2. My horrendous experiences of debating in year 8. I had always assumed I’d be a natural, but it was my first insight into a total inability to articulate myself verbally or think on my feet. Nothing came out when my mouth opened, my face went red and sweaty and I kept saying “um.” And I was in love with my year 8 English teacher as well and that made it so much worse. 3. My ex-boyfriend’s brother who called me a drifter.)
- Select and write out a horror story from your monster hall of fame… You may find it cathartic to draw a sketch of your old monster or to clip out an image that evokes the incident for you (erm, no. That sounds completely stupid and horrible.)
- Write a letter to the editor in your defence. Mail it to yourself. (Why on earth would you bother doing this? Surely it would be better to write something, send it to an editor and then when they inevitably reject you, troll them on Twitter.)
- Time Travel…
Nope sorry, I thought I could do this but I can’t. It’s just too big a bag of New Age doggy plops and feels like a complete waste of time when I could actually just spend the time writing. It’s just not ‘who I am.’