When I had been here in England for five months I got my first ever job. I was so relieved and amazed that I actually got an actual job. Sure, the pay was atrocious, especially by Swedish standards, and the work was repetitive. But at least I was making money, and that was Amazing to me. Coming into adulthood at this turbulent time, and seeing the statistics of youth unemployment, part of me thought I’d never get a job. Now it’s five month later, and I absolutely despise it. I cannot wait to get back to my studies, doing something meaningful and rewarding, and actually having more money to live off each month.
I feel, not like I’m wasting time, but like I’m wasting life. Every hour, every minute trickling away, I feel like I’m losing pieces of my life, giving it away to my employer for peanuts.
And I only work ten to fourteen hours a week! And I’m leaving in a couple of months! And I’m lucky, because at least I have a job!
(Something is not right about that.)
And I think of all the people who are stuck here.
All the people who are proper adults, not students, not graduates on their gap year, people who have families, cars and bigger expenses. People who have established their lives, and this is their job. This is what they do. This is what they have done for years, and this is what they will be doing for years. And I think of how they deserve more. They deserve more autonomy in their place of work. They deserve more room to move. They deserve higher pay.
And I think of Thatcher, and of destroyed unions. I think of the national minimum wage, and how it is way, way too low. I think of the people who say that it is terrible how people can live off of their benefits, and that it should pay to work! Like it never occurred to them that people on benefits deserve to live well, as well. As if it never occurred to them that ifd they really wanted it to pay to work they should campaign for raised salaries instead of lowered benefits.
I think of skyrocketing profits, economic growth and our dwindling planet.
I think of these things, and I hurt. And I recognise my privilege. And I mourn the changes that make Sweden more like this. I hope they will stop. And I appreciate that soon I will leave. I appreciate that this is not permanently my life.