Hi yes, hello it’s me, another 25-year-old bitching about their privileged life with a macbook and an iphone 6s next to me.
I don’t earn a living wage, and I live in income-based housing, the sweater I am wearing has a hole in it and I haven’t had a real haircut in five months.
But by god I have the newest iphone. Yet, what if I told you it’s because I do most of my work on these two devices and without them I couldn’t do ANY work in my field right now? These two devices also guaranteed I could do my MA work and get my degree.
Okay, I could go and work for a retail company, again, or I could flip burgers. But I have a MA and I am trying to understand why that means the only job interviews I have got recently are for Kohl’s and a bank teller position. Both jobs only require a GED or a high school degree. This depresses me.
I have a really fun job right now, taking photos for a local teahouse, and creating newsletters, and running their social media pages. It pays okay, and I love who I work for, the teahouse also donates 10% of its revenue to education in cambodia, so I feel really high in Karma points with this job and it makes me happy. I get a lot of free tea, but it’s hard to pay all my bills and my fiance, who only has a GED makes about three times as much as me as a manager for a gas station.
Yet, this is the reality for most people my age. Some of us are back living with parents, and some of us are having rent paid by our parents. Some of us don’t even have a car, or ability to afford internet at home. I have been able to have both. Most of us have astronomical student loan debt. I’m part of that club too.
I have probably applied for 150 jobs in the last 5 months and have only had 5 interviews. For the majority of jobs I have been perfectly qualified or overqualified for, but I still haven’t got an interview. And I am not only applying for jobs in what I am educated to do, I have stretched and applied for everything in every corner of everything I am qualified to do. Thus, I have only interviewed at Kohl’s and a bank. I turned down Kohl’s because I wouldn’t get much pay, and I wouldn’t have consistent hours. I didn’t hear back on the bank.
This is my life right now, and what is frustrating is that I bought into the idea some 8 years ago in my junior year of high school that if I went to school and graduated, even if I got a lot of student loan debt, things would come together for me to have a good job, even $40,000 a year. Which in reality, if you live in as affluent of a city as I do, that 40k doesn’t go that far. However, I bought into the idea, found things I was good at, got a double major in my BA, and an MA in a year. I even went to less expensive schools and made sure I applied like crazy for scholarships, grants etc. I chose my MA partially because it was half as expensive and half the time of other programs, so that I would have less debt and less problems. I don’t regret my education, but my stomach churns at how much it cost me.
The average income for someone my age is $24,000 a year. At the moment, I would be happy just to make that. The average for other generations is $38,000. Note this includes people of all education levels.
I am not the only one in these shoes, these debt-laden and insecure, scary shoes. It’s no surprise that I am on several medications to deal with my anxiety and depression. Compound that with existing problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, and the loss of 10 relatives and friends I cared about just in the last five years and I sometimes feel like I’m drowning.
I have been very lucky too, but I also have to be honest about the trap I am in. At the moment, I don’t know if there is a REAL opportunity into success and I know a lot of people also feel that way. I have talked to career coaches and I’m even making my own company to freelance. Yet, I still feel in limbo, following coaching and steps that I know work for others, wondering when my big break is coming. It’s not that I or anyone is doing anything wrong, but that so much of the deck is stacked against us.
Anyone that wants to say we’re entitled doesn’t really understand the struggle all of us face. The ones of us that are succeeding are the ones that had resources to avoid student debt, and parents that could financially back certain endeavors. They’re the ones that didn’t have to work part time through school and could afford to join sororities and take unpaid internships. While I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to make and eat gluten-free because of my celiac disease.
I don’t want sympathy in writing this, I just want respect in my struggle. I want to afford my basic needs, and I just want a grown-up job. I think most of us can agree to that. The reality is that the economy compounded with a minimum wage that doesn’t reflect a living wage, and companies and systems that don’t give us benefits and full hours are a big problem. I’m not even talking little guys, but big players that refuse to pay for healthcare….I’m looking at you Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Target etc. I also want a hand up not a hand out, meaning: someone give me a fucking chance!
If you don’t believe this read more here, here, here, and here.
“The most educated generation in history is on track to becoming less prosperous, at least financially, than its predecessors.”
Thanks for listening. I’m going to go apply for more jobs now.
Rebecca Lee Robinson