That’s how much I have in my bank account. I have a $29 gym membership fee due in six days. My car insurance, $115, is due the same day; my cell phone ($105) fourteen days after that. In the week between the first two bills and the third, I am spending a week with friends in Oregon. This will be the first month since quitting my retail job in March 2016 that I will not be able to meet my financial obligations. In a very real sense, it’s the biggest failure of my life.
I’m not asking for help and I’m not asking for a handout. Please don’t misconstrue that. This is not trying to garner sympathy. I just know my reality, and the reality of many around me, and I know that my story is not unique.
When people hear that I am unemployed, the universal reaction is that I am lazy and entitled. There’s nothing else I can be because I’m a millennial, right? My four year degree isn’t enough because it’s not a six year degree, despite being told my entire life all I needed was a four year degree. My 600 job applications in the five years since graduating college isn’t enough because I’m being too picky.
How dare I assume that making less than $35,000 a year be considered slavery because when I was your age…well, guess what, the world is an entirely different place and for the love of God, realize that before an entire generation suffers for their entire lifetime. We’re already guaranteed to make less than you across our entire lifetimes, the first generation in American history where that will happen. We’re dealing with the hand we’ve been dealt, but for the love, please realize you’re the dealer already.
Statistics matter. Inflation matters. Not becoming another adult who spends more time at work than home and hating every minute of their job matters. Looking at how the adults around us have hated and suffered and barely survived every moment of our entire existence and declaring, “I reject the notion that that is what work looks like” matters. Enjoying your work matters. Life is too short.
Even despite all that, I still apply for jobs I know I’ll hate. I still apply for jobs I know will trigger my depression to the even greater levels that lead to me leaving my law firm job. I draw the line at returning to retail, because that is slavery, and commission only sales because that is a level of stress that kills people and destroys families every single day. I refuse.
I spend more time looking for jobs than I do anything else. You know why? I want to be a valued part of society. I want to participate in the economy. I want to pay taxes. I want to not have to budget buying shampoo and underwear. I want, gasp, to maybe not live in my mother’s basement and drive a twelve year old car. I want to, maybe, just maybe, be able to go out to dinner with a friend and not have to measure the consequences on my budget for the next seven months.
Here’s the thing, I would absolutely take a job I’d hate if it were offered to me. That’s how much I hate my current situation. I would rather risk suicidal thoughts returning than continue on in the life I currently have. Thank God, Mom and I somehow keep making it. His provision is weird. But His provision is also exhausting. But it’s not up to me. My last interview was on, get this, April 25th, 2016. I’ve only had nine total, so they’re not that hard to keep track of.
I am not a desirable candidate to clean toilets or organize files or any of the other entry-level positions I apply for. But it’s my fault I’m not willing to get in at the ground level and work my way up. I am not a qualified applicant for any of the positions that require management skills—which, you know, I have—because I’m too entitled and aiming too high. I simply cannot win…which I’m slowly learning is the point of the system. I reject that.
Life isn’t easy, kid. I don’t want it to be easy, I just want to actually be able to work through the difficulties with even a miniscule speck of agency. Welcome to the real world, kid. It suddenly makes sense why I know so few happy adults. Sorry, I don’t want that. You’re a lazy entitled brat, kid. See above. You don’t work hard enough, kid. I do everything I’m supposed to do in this modern job search, I’m sorry the world has changed since you changed jobs under Reagan and you refuse to recognize that. You watch too much Netflix, kid. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that looking for jobs required not having the television or music on. My apologies.
There are a lot of words you could throw at me that I’d allow some merit. Hell yeah, I’m bitter. Hell yeah, I’m frustrated. There are even words like useless, worthless, failure that I’d entertain. I call myself those things enough as it is. But I am not lazy. There are circumstances beyond my control and I am doing everything I can to try and face them, change them, be shaped by them. But, for the love, I just can’t do this anymore. But I don’t have a choice.