When Not Finding a Job Makes You Feel Like a Loser
Being an adult is difficult. Paying for stuff is becoming increasingly difficult. Your job, if you’ve managed to find one, is a joke and you’re still broke. I might just be paraphrasing a line from the theme song to Friends, but it’s terrifyingly accurate if you’ve recently graduated college and are having trouble finding a “grown up” job. My “graduation gap,” that is, the time of unemployment that has passed from college degree completion until now, is going on two and a half years. This is a collection of things that people have told me in an effort to make me feel better. They haven’t.
“Looking for a job is a full time job!”
Because nothing makes me feel better about being unemployed than being told by people (who all have jobs) that not having a job is in and of itself a full time job. Yes, in fact, it’s exactly the same. Except for the part that I don’t get paid and I have no benefits other than being able to binge watch shows on Netflix without the burden of having to get up and be a functioning adult for eight plus hours a day.
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“You need a new job”
I used to think that was the worst. I was wrong. At some point you’ll realize that you need to take a job, any job, because that Netflix account isn’t going to pay for itself. Ninth circle of hell is devoting 40 hours a week to a soul-crushing job that doesn’t pay well (We know it’s retail. It’s always retail). The “you’ll find a job” line changes to “you need a new job.” Thank you, that didn’t occur to me on my own accord after coming home to a familiar hug from miserable depression every day. Not every day is going to be a walk in the park, but every day shouldn’t be an unapologetic rusty spike up the sphincter either.
“You’ll get there eventually, you’re still young and you’ve got time”
I’m told that I’ve got time, but instead I feel as if I’m just wasting it. Age is a strange concept. At every point in my life, I’ve always felt like I’m older than people (and time) are telling me I am. I’ve realized that I’m caught in the limbo of no longer being able to drink heavily on a weeknight, but I don’t quite qualify for AARP discounts yet. I feel like I should be more established than I am. Maybe not vacation-house-in-the-Keys established, but at least being-able-to-afford-groceries-that-aren’t-expired-yet established.
“Have you tried looking online?”
This is when you realize you have to start the job hunt all over again, and the demoralization sets in even earlier since you’re thoroughly familiar with the disappointment drill. It’s definitely not a matter of lack of opportunities. You know where to find them. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. That doesn’t stop people from asking the most obvious question of the decade. You’ll never hear me admit it outside of this instance, but I’m a millennial. I shop for groceries and underpants online, sometimes even from the same site (all hail Amazon). Why would I not think to do this? Especially with a process that is now almost exclusively carried out online.
“It’s alright, Oprah was fired from her first job!”
If you’ve managed to finally get your foot in the door (that one is a bonus for you, on the house), only to have the victory be short lived, you’ve likely heard a variant of this one. I mean, that’s great that she’s a loser too, but I’m not sure how someone else’s misfortune is supposed to help my situation. Learning that someone else had tried and failed miserably, probably worse than I did, doesn’t make me feel any better. Wait, no. Just got it. I take it back, that one stands.
I’ve learned in the grand scheme of things, two years is not a long time. But it feels like an eternity when you’re not achieving your goals. Some days I feel like I’m making waves, others I’m drowning in the current. Some days, I’m not sure what my goals even are. But whatever yours are, may we all get there some day.