*to be read in hushed voice-over*
And here, we observe the recently hired graduatus, or in the common tongue, ‘graduate’, inspecting their new surroundings. Inquisitive, rosy-cheeked and fresh-faced, this young individual practically oozes relief. Observe his surroundings; fresh pastures, lush vegetation and vibrant flora abound. The graduate is settled, filled with purpose and excitement for days to come. But it was not always like this for our intrepid friend. Oh no. To understand this oft-misunderstood species, we must first travel back to where it all began…
The graduate as we know it came into being after the completion of the universitas magistrorum et scholarium life stage, or ‘university’. A difficult transition for any species to endure, filled with emotional and physical strife, he completes this cycle after adapting to a strict learning curve and mastering significant life challenges. The graduate revels in this achievement, and engages in riotous (and occasionally pagan) social festivities to celebrate.
Upon completion of said stage, the graduate is presented with a unique head piece as part of a traditional societal ritual, signifying dominance and mental prowess. However, it must be noted that some believe this honour diluted as the amount of head pieces adorning the graduate population increases.
Our friend spends a few months in euphoric elation with his fellow graduates, manifested in states varying from hibernation and exploration to inebriation. But, like all that is good on our beautiful earth, everything must come to an end. The graduate must return to the nest, where the promise of sustenance and shelter beckons. Comfort arrives in swathes, swaddling the graduate in warmth and tranquillity.
Though like the setting sun, elation can sour as quickly as it rises. Our friend’s serenity is pierced by rising tensions in the homeland. Pressures mount, claustrophobia takes wing, and boredom ensues.
Desperate to escape this retrogression, and following substantial familial threat, he puts time and energy into finding purpose. Seconds, minutes, hours, days and months pass. The hot sun beats down on the graduate’s neck as he trawls the endless wilderness. Hunting for occupation becomes occupation. Monotony is the only constant, perforated by fleeting bursts of hope. Hard labour becomes the norm, sanitation levels wane and time becomes one infinite day, without respite.
Yet all this hard work does not yield a strong harvest. The graduate’s efforts are rebuffed, ignored or overlooked. A creeping melancholy seeps through all. The hunger to live up to the triumphs of the rest of the pack becomes an intense burden.
As resources dwindle, the only option for the graduate is to bring home the proverbial bacon. The hunter must moonlight as gatherer. Our friend feels beneath this toil and is consumed by fatigue. But the procurement of new resources does help to mollify familial discord.
The hunt for purpose continues with haste. Slowly, more attention is gained. However, a wise elder informs the graduate that purpose can only be found once knowledge is gathered. This perplexes our friend, who does not understand how knowledge can be attained before an occupation is found.
The graduate takes to community circles to vent his growing frustration. Voices demand reasons for our friend’s purposeless existence. And once again, paternal disquiet rears its unsolicited head.
A compromise is found in the form of a local sympathiser, who allows our friend to shadow his daily tasks within the pack. The graduate learns much from this, but receives no reward for his labours.
Instilled with a fresh spurt of determination, however, he applies himself as he never has before. His days become more productive, if occasionally peppered with existential crises and rejection. Like the patient housecat stalking its prey, perseverance and grit triumph. After months of virtual silence, everyone is suddenly interested in the young graduate. Old friends and new crawl from their respective woodworks and offer their support and intellect. Before long, he has several meetings set up to discuss his occupation hunt. The meetings go well.
But the competition is brutally fierce, and rejection once again presides. Every graduate must fend for himself in this fight to win. Friends become rivals, rivals become enemies, and long does the war reign supreme. But our graduate is a warrior. He has not fought this hard for this long to be usurped by someone lacking his skill.
More trawling, more hunting, more meetings with those from lands far and wide. Toil and sweat envelop our fighter. He is determination itself. But soft… what light through yonder cloud breaks?
One meeting leads to another and suddenly he is shaking hands with the leader of the tribe. And in an instant as brief and hauntingly exquisite as the flicker of a butterfly’s wings, our graduate grasps glory in his fated hands. He has found purpose. Victory has never meant this much to another. Tears fall, limbs relax and relief sighs. Our planet is an exquisite land, encompassing life in its most barren of corners. And the graduate, in all his extraordinary, resolute majesty, has found his place in it.