The Confusing 20s

musings

Hi, I’ll be 26 in a few weeks and I’m in the phase that I’ll call “The Confusing 20s”.

I always thought I wanted to do a certain thing….or certain things. I always wanted to do something creative, I do creative things every week. I write and cross-stitch, sometimes I knit and paint. I put together crafts. I play with a lot of hobbies and artistic endeavors. For myself it is a chance to make something happy in a time of chaos or stress. Really it’s peace in that which is the constant reality of the chaos of life.

I never thought I could make a career from “art” so I chose something practical. Something I also enjoyed. I consider myself intelligent and able, I learn quickly and I like challenges. I want to be a lifelong learner. So I chose to go with journalism and programs that meant that I learned a huge variety of skills. This meant a B.A. where I also majored in History, just for fun, and graduated with a 3.2 GPA, not perfect, but I was proud.

I then took on a M.A. program with a school and program that had a 90% employment rate 1 year after graduation. There I would learn from internationally recognized journalists on how to be a better journalist. It was what I wanted in a very exciting and passionate field that I really love. Once again I didn’t graduate with honors, but I finished on time, and got really good marks on my work. Which, 2015 was a hard year due to losing my grandmother, but I did it, I pushed through.

The reason why I went for the M.A. was so that I could be a better journalist and walk into a role somewhere as prepared and enthusiastic as possible to do a job I was passionate about. Within a few days of finishing the work on my M.A. I was applying for jobs. That was December 2015, and here I am in January 2017 and I have yet to land the dream job. Or really, any job that is full time, has benefits and offers me some financial stability.

This has been a growth process for me. A scary and hard growth process. It has meant I have really had to grow up this last year and not just in jobs but in what my habits and actions have been. While working and jumping around with part time jobs here and there, I have had to cut back on my spending, refinance my debt and even skip paying bills so that we had groceries. Student loans and being behind on them has meant bombing my credit score and that I probably won’t be able to buy  a home any time soon or if ever. It’s really stressful and upsetting.

See my expectation was that I would get through college and get a great job. I always TRULY believed this would happen and I have never had trouble finding a job to get me through what I need to get through. That’s from High School to age 25, I always had a job and something to do. Sometimes it was to save and travel, other times it was just to have extra income. I’ve worked hard to have that.

Here we are 20 days into a new year, a new chance, and more is moving. I’ve had interviews and interest in me as an employee and things are going well with the part time job I currently have. I have backups to my backups, but it’s still hard. I never thought I would be making so little when I have so much education, when I took the “safe” bet on my education. The jobs I am finding and interviewing at also have no direct relation to my education, some overlap, but nothing direct. Which I find confusing and frustrating.

I feel like I have done everything “right” in this attempt to build myself up from a childhood in poverty, but I am finding that the road out of the hole is really slick, really steep and full of holes and drop-offs. All around it’s confusing and frustrating and extremely tiring.

I often ask myself “what am I meant to be doing?” and my gut tells me that I’m doing what’s right and what I’m supposed to. I want to “do more” but I also have to eat and pay bills and find a way to survive. While my fiancé has helped us keep the boat afloat, he supported my school endeavors so that I could do more.

Maybe this is all part of the longer journey in which I better understand poverty, achievement and the financial plight of my peers that are college educated and working poor-paying retail jobs. Sometimes it’s the location of where we are living, but other times it’s the reality that there is not a job or that one is overlooked. I have been told that maybe I’m overqualified and that maybe people see me as too expensive. Which is possible and maybe I’m not presenting myself as strongly in my cover letters. Maybe it’s a lesson in how to assert myself and demand recognition and try new techniques.

I think the biggest lesson is that it’s easy to believe the narrative we’re told in school of “graduate, college, graduate, good job.” “Keep your grades up, work hard and you’ll be great” “try your best and things will come through”. All of these narratives are great for encouragements and great for driving people to carry on, myself included. However, they are not the only truth and they ignore the complexities of what is actually existing on this planet.

For instance, how can you say this to a child that’s starving in Yemen? They might be trying their hardest but it doesn’t change the reality that civil war and too little water for crops. Just something to chew on.

While I bite my nails every time I see a less-qualified peer get a job I wanted and sometimes shed a few tears, I am fighting very hard for the right fit and the right job and my instincts tell me something will come along.

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I’ve been down a lot over the last few years.

Let’s make it the last decade or so.

Things have been crazy, things have been hard, things have made me cry and scream and fight.

Blood, sweat and tears means way more to me now than ever before.

Because everything I have done has had some serious pieces of me poured into it. Bled into it.

I don’t take my work lightly, I put as much effort into it as I can. It’s not always perfect, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I didn’t try. Sometimes this doesn’t translate into an end product that everyone likes. Sometimes, people don’t give a shit.

When this is the case, we often feel down, malcontent, anxious and even miserable. Yet if I have learned from anything, the down, turns back up. The down is also a chance to turn things around and make something of significance to your own life!

Take the pain and frustration of a failure, or heartbreak or being frightened to tears, to find something about yourself.

Maybe it’s a chance to learn something new to make the “failure” better in the future. Perhaps it’s not even changing your work, but demanding respect and care from who you work for. Maybe it’s even realizing “bad” work atmospheres as they become visible and learning to get out when you can. Sometimes it’s learning how to make trustworthy friends and that you’re worth more than people treat you like.

Or maybe it’s time to learn a new language or a skill so you can market yourself, maybe just brush up on a set area. Learn a craft for your free time. Read a book you’ve not had time for.

The upside to falling down is that it can also shock your mind into realizing problems around you. When I was forced to resign from a second job in six months, I realized so clearly what I had felt in my gut. They were going with a company to do marketing and they were downsizing everywhere! It wasn’t me, it was the company making serious changes.Of which, I had ignored for weeks while I saw co-workers leave or conveniently retire. I ignored overheard phone calls, and being ghosted by my boss. Now I KNOW what to look for….and I know it wasn’t personal when several other people were also thrown under the bus.

I also have a much better understanding that just because somewhere looks like a good place to be on the outside, doesn’t mean it’s actually a candy center….often it’s toxic sludge.

So I urge you, if you are down, deep down, deep in the trenches….fight…fight for yourself and the ability to be better. Fight your way out and up and onward and I leave you with this song as a measure of hope.

Best,

Rebecca

 

The Upside of Down

musings

Why it Sucks Being a Millenial

colorado, musings

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.

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Tough Decisions in Pursuing a Dream

musings, Uncategorized

I recently made the hard choice to leave a job that I had bled into for four years.

The decision was a sudden one, but one that I needed to pursue, even if it meant that I wouldn’t have my same comfort level. I don’t write this to bash anyone, but rather to say, it’s okay to give up on something that just isn’t working.

The job wasn’t working. At all. It was a constant conflict of ideas and visions and there was poor communication on how to do anything, let alone function on a basic level. That was true for me, and the business.

It just got worse and worse. And before I knew it I was crying at work. Crying at work and telling people how miserable I was.

This is when I knew I needed to give it up, but I had nothing else lined up. But as a pressure cooker with no one watching and checking on the meal, it all exploded and I resigned from my job.

I quit my job without two weeks notice, or getting a letter of reference, or having anything to fall back on. I admitted failure and walked away.

Yet, even though this “failure” is a story in my career, it’s not the end of my ability to thrive, pursue and be.

Since officially resigning on Saturday I have actually started to put my life together in a way I haven’t been able to for almost a year. That’s a huge for me.

I’m actually getting my house cleaned and organized. I’ve applied for many jobs and have two interviews in the next week. I’ll be taking on more hours and duties for my other side job and hopefully be able to branch out from there. I took a leap of faith and I’m finding myself in the process.

I don’t know what the next few weeks will hold, but I’m much happier not feeling miserable every day. I’m much more confident than I’ve been in months. And I’m pursuing creative endeavors I haven’t felt like pursuing in a very long time. My creative energy isn’t being drained into something that is strangling me at the same time. I have creative juices. I can write a personal blog, something I haven’t done in months.

Anyway, you get the idea. My point is, sometimes risking everything is the best way to get somewhere. Don’t let life scare you into bed and away from the world. Don’t let life kill you from the inside out. Wise words: Be Brave

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Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson