Let’s Brace for Impact: Job Hunt 2016.

I talk about my employment status a lot.

I mention it in passing, I tweet about it, I joke about it, post about it on Facebook and Tumblr and Instagram and make signs that I hang outside my window that advertise it. I can’t stop. I’ve tried and it’s impossible. I’ve been trying since April of last year and have turned up little to no results. Was this due to my lack of trying? Was I doing something completely wrong the entire time? Am I not qualified enough? Am I not cut out for “the real world”? Do I not fit in?

One reason I keep talking about my unemployment status a lot because it’s something that is affecting me right now. It’s something so salient to my identity that I feel that if I stop talking about it, then I’ll never be noticed. If I stop talking about it, maybe the universe will recognize that as contentment and just let me wade down the river of a sedentary lifestyle, never to be heard of again. I like to remind myself that I’m “a part of the statistic,” as if attaching myself proves that I’m not alone in it. “8.5% of college graduates are unemployed,” cites Slate. I’ve also read somewhere that for 70% of recent college graduates it takes an average of 9-12 months to land their first job. Where did I read it? I’m not sure, but I read it and it’s reassuring. And while “small” it reassures me that we’re all in this together. All 8.5% of us, of whom I know maybe one or two people.

Sometimes I blame my choice in major: “English. pfft, what the hell was I drinking when I declared that?” Then I recall the incessant familial pressure to major in something with a more desirable paycheck, engineering was the hot major to declare five years ago because “there were jobs and I was good at math.” Now, I’m not doubting that there are jobs and that those in the field are good at math, I’m used the quotes to show what my family used as “legitimate reasons for me to major in something I had zero interest in.” So, I went with my gut and couldn’t be prouder of myself.

Adulthood Level 1: Achieved! 

Poring over these rhetorical questions, I noticed how often I turned the issue on myself: My lack of trying, Was I doing something wrong, Am I not qualified, and the list could go on. Immediately, I make myself think and feel and recognize that I am a problem. I don’t fit into the world I was born into. My shape doesn’t fit the box. I am letting the box define me. My unemployment is not due to my lack of trying or my ineptitude in the world or because I’m not qualified. I am adept, I am trying and I am qualified. It’s just really fucking hard out there. They tell you this (and by ‘they’ I mean society) over and over and over again; so much so that the message just becomes the white noise that lulls you to sleep at night. Their words become meaningless, much like the drool that pools in the fabric of your flannel pillow sheets.

Regardless of its loudness and repetitiveness, ‘they’ are 100% right: It. Is. Hard. And I have no solutions to give you because I have achieved no such luck and have learned nothing more than what others will tell you upon your foray into the working world. All I can say is: don’t let the bastards get you down. Something will come around in time, just be patient.

Yes…that is something ‘they’ say. The good thing about it?

It’s all true.

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Let’s Have A Candid Conversation: Anxiety & Me.

It’s worse in the morning.

I’m not entirely sure why, all I know is that there’s this feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost like you’ve disappointed someone without having done anything. I get up, almost reluctantly, and head downstairs for coffee in hopes that caffeine is the solution to whatever is digging itself deeper into the pit. A temporary relief flows over me, like a morning affirmation saying that everything is going to be okay and that I shouldn’t have to worry.

“This is all temporary.”

“You’ve survived 100% of your worst days.”

“Something good is going to happen”

The same three statements are  repeated one right after the next until the words sound so distant and irrelevant that they’re almost foreign to my tongue. I go through the day mostly okay, attempting not to think about anything. In turn, I think about everything.

  • Jobs
  • Friends
  • Relationships
  • Jobs
  • Loans
  • Jobs
  • My lack of a social life compared to those around me who have the means to perpetuate the type of life I wish to lead one day but cannot seem to manage at the present time
  • Jobs

All of these things take the shape of a hanging, nagging finger of obligation that follows me around from day to day. I’d probably be insane if they hadn’t taken the weekends off.

Eventually, I feel the days become shorter and the amount of tasks that I had completed match in length.

Sometimes I never truly know what’s wrong; all I could pinpoint was that I felt like crying. It was like I was writing a book and decided to stop because I was at a loss for words and kept staring at a half empty page.

I’m never sure what clicks in me but, in spite of the emptiness of the page and the hollowness of my gut, I always continue writing.

-X-

As far back as I could remember, anxiety has always been my nemesis. Imagine that, being twenty-two years old with a nemesis. Especially one that isn’t corporeal or technically alive. You see, anxiety isn’t something that’s fun to deal with nor is it something that’s interesting to have. I feel like popular culture tends to portray characters with anxiety as “fidgety” and “dorky,” when in reality it’s something that’s crippling and debilitating. Some shows tends to get it right (and I thank the skies that they’re doing it justice) but there’s still so much left unsaid and unheard from the realities of it. I get it, it’s not exactly marketable, but when you’re in the business of telling the truth, not everything is going to be able to be presented in a nice little bow.

What helps me make it through is the thought that my anxiety is actually a piece of me. It’s a part of me that is controlling and annoying, but it doesn’t define me. It can hold me back, but I know I can make it through. I know I can because there’s still so much out there to see and I want to be able to seek it out.

I still want to grow.

Let’s Endure: A Kid in an Adult World. 

“I’m twenty-two years old, I look like I’m sixteen, and I am not an adult…”

Sometimes I feel like the numbers that make up my age are in reverse and am therefore not what my license says I am. Well, that metaphor used to work when I was twenty-one, but since I’m twenty-two, it doesn’t really hold the same weight. At this age, I am genuinely curious if the stigma of age, both in the present and in the future, will finally stop being a nuisance on my being. What’s sad is that I lack the ability to straddle both sides of this ageist gap; I have always looked much younger than I actually am. Yes, I know that it will pay off in the long run and that in the future it will work out in my benefit, but right now I’m getting tired of getting the side-eye from a bartender who thinks that what I just gave him was the world’s best fake ID. In a sense, it is the world’s best fake because it’s real. I feel that it’s because of this curse of perpetual youth that I get treated as a child. My worth feels dependent on my looks than it does on my experience, knowledge, or wisdom.

While I acknowledge that my parents will see this, that does not mean I will relent in the following section. I get treated differently when I’m at home. How I talk, what I do, with whom I speak is scrutinized and belittled because I have returned to a space where I have not grown. Where I have grown lies beyond the confines of my hometown and the new “grown-up” me can no longer strive at the homestead. I get that “home is where the heart is,” but who is to decide what my home is other than me? Home should be a state of being and not a state of physical presence. Who I’m comfortable with, how I act, and where I feel right should be home. While my home does have these qualities, it just feels stuck in this bubble where time stops and I’m still eighteen. You can see the pattern here, I’m always getting younger and not getting older.

However, that’s not to say that once I finally grow up or once I finally look my age (which I have estimated to be when I’m forty-two) that the bubble will pop. As far as I’m concerned, the bubble is impenetrable and whatever attempts to kill it only makes it stronger. There is no escape. I will forever feel like a child in an adult world, forever running towards the goal of adulthood with no chance of getting any closer. That being said, I still won’t let up. I still won’t let that stop me. I have a voice and I have a lot to say and I’m going to keep saying it:

“I am twenty-two years old, I look like I’m sixteen, and I’m an adult!”

Let’s Be Angry: Good Lord, I Think I’ve Snapped. 

While I realize that I’ve only recently posted an article on the job hunt (I also realize how uplifting and positive it sounded), I actually wrote that one about a month ago and scheduled it to be posted when it was posted. I’ve since grown a tiny bit bitter.

Why are so preoccupied with the successes and later chapters of those around us, when we ourselves are only at our relative fifth chapter? Why are we so consumed with the future and less privy to the now? More accurately put, why am I so obsessed with it? I say, I, because I am in no means an accurate representation of the whole. I am one person attempting to decide my happiness; a happiness somehow hidden deep within the incorruptible and impenetrable mystery of employment. In my lifetime I have tethered this thought of happiness to a career, to stability, to knowing my future because I thought that it was the one thing I could control. Of all things I can and cannot control, I choose the one uncertain thing that I’m not even sure I can grasp, let alone control.
I’ve spent the last few months yelling into the faceless masses of employers whom have received countless cover letters and resumes from other recent college graduates, of whom I am one. That’s just it, I am ONE of thousands. Yet I get angry at my competition and I get angry at HR representatives who don’t email me back and I get angry because I feel no one will give me a chance. Even friends and family tend to bury themselves precariously beneath my skin with their meaningful affirmations of “hang in there” and “stay positive.”
Damn, do I hate that phrase. “Stay positive!” I’m a twenty-two year old who wants to have a life but not a dime to lead it. All the while, I’m unemployed because I have an English degree that employers don’t give two fucks about. But hey, at least I can “stay positive.” Do you see my bitterness now? Can you smell the black coffee traveling its wispy bitter notes up your nostrils to your olfactory bulb? Can you feel it go down your throat, leaving behind a trail of slow burning caffeine? Add some sugar, it’ll go down smoother.

I understand that I need to re-route the anger and attempt to look at it differently; add some sugar, so to speak. I get it. But the reason I get angry at these people is because I’m too proud to be angry at myself. I shouldn’t be angry at myself or them. In fact, I shouldn’t be angry at all. It won’t solve anything. All it will do is bring about a throbbing pain to my temples. Anger is like the little kid who throws a tantrum because he’s only recently discovered the word ‘no’ and has electively decided that it’s a naughty word, up in the ranks of poopy and broccoli, and that it shouldn’t exist. I don’t like being angry, but sometimes it just happens. There’s only so much you can take at a time before you snap.

So this is it, folks. I’ve snapped. And now please give me the benefit of the doubt as I try to tie myself back together and move along my merry way.
Hopefully to a job.
Hopefully to a chance.
Hopefully to happiness.

Let’s Endure: The Job Hunt

The Job Hunt: It’s as inevitable as growing old, as necessary as breathing, and as annoying as the kid who always raised his hand in class with the right answer. In my experience (which has so far been three months in “the hunt”), I typically receive the same three responses from relatives:

1) Where have you been applying?

2) I’m sure something will come up.

3) You know, it took me ‘X’ months and ‘X’ job applications to get my first job. It’ll work out.

My responses, all held dry underneath the umbrella of politeness are as follows:

1) Literally everywhere, but I’m sure something will happen in time.

2) Oh, most definitely! It’s just a matter of patience.

3) Well, I’m only on month three. I suppose I have a long way to go.

In my family, politeness is probably of the utmost importance, perched up in the ranks next to cleanliness and dental hygiene. It’s sufficient to say that “talking back” won’t only result in complete, familial shame, but also an immediate removal from the family newsletter that exists only through tacit consent and word of mouth.

What they don’t know and will soon find out, is that i’m screaming in my head for everybody to stay quiet and let me do what four years and $65,000 taught me to do: work under the stress of society. As of right now, I am seventy-two applications deep, have accrued eight rejections, and sixty-four non replies.

And they wonder why the job hunt is stressful?

I am finding myself in the most peculiar and perhaps most common situation in regards to this hunt; I am stuck in the phase where I have begun asking myself even more unanswerable questions: What if the first job I’m offered is that one I pounce at, thus shutting out all other possibilities out there? What if there are better ones? How do you know? Will someone please tell me, because I am scared. The answers are out there, but they’re hiding. Hiding beneat the doubt and uncertainty and the unknown. A part of me understands; I understand why it’s selective and why it is the way it is, but at the same time I want to dismantle it bit by bit just so I can get an inch through the door. Yes, my cover letter is a template and no, that doesn’t mean I care any less about the job.

Between the onslaught of questions from family burrowing into the dura over my temporal lobe and my imposed narcissism on behalf of these unknown employers, I’m at my wits end. I can say that it’ll get better and that something will work itself out in due time, and it will, i’m sure of it; but those same responses get tired, tired to the point of ineffectiveness and redundancy. It’s so overdone that I can play backwards and forwards the exact mannerisms associated with the responses:

A tilt of the head, a gentle touch on the hand, *cue subtle sigh*:

Friend/Family Member

“It’ll work out. I know it will. You just have to give it time. Life will out, my friend. Life will out.”

I understand this initial response to it, I do. But despite all of the reassurances, let’s not pretend that you didn’t just steal that phrase from Grey’s Anatomy. From someone who is a fellow hunter, I will start my stating the obvious: the hunt is hard.

It’s harder than a Rubix Cube and rarely yields the same “satisfying” results. But, there’s a reason why the cliches are cliches and the phrases are redundant; it’s because they’re true.

So, I’ll say this with a tilt of my head, a gentle touch on the hand, and I’ll *commence the subtle sigh*:

It’s a tough world out there. But I’m tougher. You’re tougher.

And it’s hunting season, so gear up.

Let’s Commemorate: My Four Years in College.

It isn’t until you are so close to the edge, so close that you can feel the wind push your hair and chill your bones, that you realize: this is it. You are leaving the warm comforting womb of college and academics and venturing off into the great, big world. You’re probably thinking, “I’m not ready,” and you’re probably right, you’re not. Fears of becoming unemployed forever, useless beyond opening pickle jars and killing flies, fill your head and you can’t see past that. You breakdown, you cry, you get back up again, you start over. This is the process of the college graduate. I am experiencing it, my friends are experiencing it, and you may too.

It’s fine.

You’re not alone.

I’ve been told that writing things down helps you deal with the stresses and anxieties at hand. Okay, time for one final assignment. If you feel sad or anxious or scared, take out your phone or a piece of paper or write on your hand exactly why you feel this way. Explore this feeling. Delve deep into your heart and pull out the fear, pull out the sadness, and look at it for what it is: temporary. Write them all down and after each one, in huge, bold letters write that word. Let them remain temporary and they won’t bother you anymore.

I never saw myself graduating college. The process itself was grueling and tedious and expensive. You just think that there’s nothing more to life than this, right now. Class, drinks, study, tests, pay tuition. There may be no beauty in the process, but the product is stunningly radiant. Then you reach those penultimate days where the finish line is in sight and you can hear the cheering crowd. Your parents are crying with joy, your friends are with you, feet stamping the pavement, and you don’t know they’re there until you look around. Forget about the finish line, forget that it’s something ending. Look around at your family and your friends and see this for what it is: It’s the beginning. Your whole life is right there in front of you and it’s bright and shiny and new. It’s okay to be afraid of the unknown. It’s okay to not be ready. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling.

I’m not ready, but that’s not going to stop me.

Weighing the Options.

You do not truly understand stress, until you’re less than a month away from graduating college. Preparedness is a thing of the past and panic is a cruel punch to the gut in place of it. I’ll be the first to tell you (and definitely not the last) that the job hunt is fierce, difficult, and trying. It will test your patience, your morals, and your ability to not give any fucks, because you will undoubtedly give as many fucks as you’ve been holding back just to get an interview or even a rejection email. Think of backups and backups to those backups, they are essential. They will give you a peace of mind that could only otherwise be achieved through intoxication or an induced coma. If graduate school is your plan, then I commend you because you’ve obviously garnered some grasp of higher learning that I am only now delving in to. The options are hopeful, but the tuition is dreadful. I know I’ll make it through somehow. Sometimes you don’t understand or appreciate the process, until you’ve gotten to the finish line. Sweating and cramping, I will make it to the finish line. Just like I know you will.