It’s a funny thing, the internet. You never realize how much you rely on it until you don’t have access, and yet when you have gone without for a week or so, hitting up a coffee shop or bookstore for some free wifi leaves you unsure of how to use your precious time with this new-age luxury.
But lucky for me, I once again have internet installed in my apartment and I am again thrust into the digital world to browse Reddit, apply for jobs and interact socially on Facebook. Actually, I’m more pleased to once again have access to Netflix. It’s like I can’t eat a decent meal without watching some sort of moving picture anymore.
I think what I was most shocked by during my five-day internet drought is how much I relied on the internet to simply exist. Even without internet, I had access to books, my computer, my car, and even the pool literally ten steps from my front door. And yet, without internet, I felt like I didn’t have the tools to accomplish anything substantial.
Granted, my main objective right now is to acquire employment and in this day and age, it’s difficult to do so without the internet and email. But why wasn’t I writing?
No seriously, it’s a question that has been keeping me up at night. Why am I not using this free time? It’s not like I can do much else besides read, write and play old PlayStation video games.
This week has been full of stark, real-world realizations.
1) No one is holding me accountable anymore. Aside from paying rent on time and cleaning the dishes in the sink, no one really expects anything from me. Okay, maybe my parents who helped me spend five years in school to learn how to write a damn book, but they aren’t breathing down my neck about it like a professor with a deadline. I have to be accountable for myself all of the sudden. It’s like when I stopped playing organized sports and I didn’t have a soccer coach screaming at me to run faster—I just stopped running. This worries me.
2) Jobs are not like internships. My biggest fear about getting a job is that unlike an internship, when you work a job there is no end date to look forward to. With internships, eventually you get kind of bored or the work runs out or it just feels like it’s time to move on. With jobs, they’re sort of forever, or at least until you quit/get fired. That’s a big commitment, man.
3) Networking is awkward, scary and completely necessary. I went to my first fundraiser/networking event. I actually met some very nice people, one of whom took my information to pass along about a job opportunity, but not before 15 very awkward minutes and a $10 glass of red wine. I think I need to brush up on my social interaction skills. I’ve been a reclusive grad student too long. Also, personal business cards are a must.
4) The real world has a different kind of rewards system that is in no way related to how smart, hard working or capable you are. I read a really interesting article about anxiety in the United States (which you can read here). Apparently, because I was told my whole life that if I worked hard and did everything possible to look good, I would succeed based on my personal merits. And apparently, I was lied to. It’s all about luck. And if I’m not lucky enough, I’ll be a failure. And I’ll have to live in a box under the bridge. And because how lucky I am is not within my control, I get to experience a lot of stress and anxiety. But it’s okay, apparently this is normal.
5) It’s really hard to have fun in a new city if you don’t want to spend any money. Half the fun of moving to a new place is experiencing all the cool new things the new place has to offer, like food or entertainment. Well, if you don’t want to spend money, it’s really difficult to acquire food or libations outside of ethically questionable flirting during happy hour downtown. And if you don’t want to spend money, you are very limited to the kinds of entertainment available to you. I really want to try this great Pho restaurant that was recommended to me by the internet, but I’m broke so I think I’ll stick to my mass quantities of rice and beans that I’ll be eating for every meal for the next two months and watch the Netflix my parents don’t realize they are still paying for.