The Confusing 20s

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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