Addiction is a cunt of a job. You’d think that after two years of being removed from the Nexus payroll I’d be free, that I wouldn’t still be watching 2am roll in as I recycled the same tone, the same lad centric student ramblings; that I wouldn’t be desperately clutching the same creative release that made scraping through a BSc somewhat bearable.
My name is Lyam and I am a recovering Nexus Editor.
This is something I never thought I’d put in print. Despite my protest of writing this contrived, autobiographical, existential whinge, the infamous head honcho of Nexus is determined that my lackluster story serves a purpose. Even if it’s just breaking up the amount of interview content in this issue, or providing some “look at the state of this cringey cunt” group chat content to any mates I still have at Waikato.
It’s pretty stock standard. I once had my dream job and gave it up because I knew I needed new dreams. This yarn isn’t different to anyone else’s; while it’s about the journey from starting off as a fast-food kitchen slave to becoming a corporate drone on the other side of the world, it could just as easily have been anyone else’s story. The point isn’t that Nexus completely re-routed my life, it’s that I was a shit tier student and something other than lectures and tutorials defined my academic career and job prospects. Substitute Nexus for UniCol, Te Waiora, or DebSoc etc and the point would be the same (DebSoc might be a bit of a stretch though).
First things first, fuck having a decent GPA. What I learned at Nexus was that University needs to be more than collecting grades, it needs to be about teaching you how to function as a grown up and understanding that there’s actually something to be said for developing genuine life skills. Mostly it’s about having others who believe in your passions and aren’t afraid to call you out on shit, whether that comes in the form of a boss, colleague, flatmates, or just the boys.
For context on this story, and as part of the reason why under no circumstance should I ever be a role model for fucking anything, you need to understand another vulnerable confession.
My name is Lyam and I am a recovering Carl’s Jr worker.
Now there’s no shame in the fast-food game. For the people who wake up every day passionate about slamming out their hours and putting food on the table, I admire you. Me, however, I absolutely fucking hated it. The problem was that I didn’t know any better, and that there wasn’t really any other option. But like many of you, my mum drilled into me to never turn down a good job. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t passionate about it, it paid the bills, and at the time I didn’t know that I wanted anything else. I’d almost resigned myself to ‘taking a gap year’ just to work full-time at Carl’s because it was easy, comfortable, and as cliche as it sounds, I was just a clueless 18 year old with no idea what the fuck was going on.
All it took was a chicken burger in Mei Wah’s. I was leaning against the window, nattering about how much of a pisstake it would be to email Nexus, before I knew it I was hit with a swift “go on, you won’t” – to which I gracefully responded “get fucked I’ll do it now”. By the time the nutritional benefits of the Knighton Road cuisine began to take effect, the desperate Nexus editorial team of 2015 had assigned me to write a review of Laneway, knowing nothing more than my ability to barely string together an email. If I’m to be as open and honest as possible, that review was easily the most cringe-inducing, physically painful, and just an all round awful attempt at writing. At the time I probably thought I was well on my way to becoming a professional festival reviewer with a stack of R&V tickets, but I should point out that I’ve been writing for this fucking magazine for half a decade now and have never got a free ticket to anything.
The point is, these cunts gave me a job. They genuinely believed there was something there. Yes, my submission was shit. Yes, I may still have been somewhat ‘influenced’ while writing it, but it was somehow enough to become a Deputy Editor, leading on to Co-Editor, and eventually attempting to run the ship solo. But the moment they gave me that first ten hours pay I was done with Carl’s Jr. I was done with “satisfying cravings with chargrilled 100% angus beef” and I’ve never hand spun a milkshake since.
Now, I could spend the next 700 or so words regaling you with tales of my literary mediocrity. How I wrote an article on RA’s compulsively masturbating the showers which started a petition to get me fired, or attempted to expose the alleged [for legal reasons] unethical rat lab on campus which put the prospect of graduating on thin ice. Mostly I could write about how I got to meet two Prime Ministers, got blacklisted from Samantha Hayes email address, interviewed a human cigarette packet named Winston, and rigged far too many blind dates just for shits and gigs.
None of that really matters though. Despite my constant shit talk about dropping out of science to study english, I knew then that I wasn’t really ever going to be a journalist. I didn’t want it like teams at Critic or the weird kids from Salient did. I even made a point of going into my bosses office once and asking “who is this Bill English cunt that’s emailing me and should I care?”. Turns out he was Prime Minister at the time and as a result, we created a weekly piece called Puppet Master Politics where I was forced to care about politics and actually watch the news. At the time it ruined my life, but may have been the best thing for me.
Despite the nostalgic rambling, the point of this story is that I learned a lot about working, and ultimately about education which led to me pulling the plug and quitting Nexus:
– If you love what you do then the term “hours worked” don’t really apply
– There’s merit in doing things you’re shit at if you actually learn from it
– Don’t turn up hungover wearing a John Deere cap and a musty flannel to interview Jacinda Ardern
– Nexus horoscopes are the only reliable source of personal guidance
– Flatmates who go out of their way to bring you subway at work on a production night are marriage material
– iMac’s are worse for your health than any fungal infection from the uni lakes
– I’m not as good a drinker as I thought I was
– There’s a big ol’ rat lab on campus and they don’t want you to know
Mostly though I learned two things. I learned that there is some real value in someone confidently investing in you. Even when you’re blatantly faking it. It took me about 18 months to actually prove that I had any sliver of mediocre talent, but it’s the fact that people saw it and stuck through the troves of shit while I found it. That same confidence I got from Nexus allowed me to be comfortable in my dream job – for about five minutes. Sitting pretty on a 40 hour contract with the WSU, a job that I loved, and then I quit, with their full support, to move to the UK.
Why? Well if this was complete bullshit I would tell you I got a dream job at the BBC or ITV. But the truth is I moved to Ireland on nothing more than a vague promise that I could redesign some websites for Wagyu beef farms. At that point, I was trading in my first dream job for the craic, and occasional work on what is basically farmer porn. I guess it was years of grinding through countless hours of embarrassing articles, barely scraping through political interviews, and attempting to MC a range of events while dripping with nervous sweat that left me with the experience to talk my way into the big ol’ corporate world of cancer research. I’m not sure if this is my dream job either, or if I’ll ever have it as good as I did at uni, but the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that if I’d just stuck to lectures, tutorials, and the bare minimum that university offers, there’s a better than even greater chance I’d still be stuck making another ‘Double Superstar with Cheese Medium Combo with an Oreo Shake’. I also learned that starting every day with Lift Plus and a pie left me looking like Lewis Capaldi with a thinning mop on top. But I’ll be honest, I had to leave Nexus to learn those lessons.