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What It's Like Being Completely Lost At 20-Something

Here's a hint: It's anything but easy.

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It all started when you graduated college.

You did it! You went to college and earned your undergraduate degree! Everyone told you that that was the only way you'd accomplish anything in your life, and you did it! Yay, you! (Where you graduated from matters exactly zero, at least for the sake of this article)

But, it's been a little while now...

Maybe you graduated last year, maybe you graduated 5 years ago. Either way, you haven't figured out where you fit. At all. Career, family, location, friends, it's all a mystery to you.

Debt collectors become your worst enemy.

6 Months after you graduate, you get that miserable "FedLoans" letter in the mail and that's when you know you're really in trouble. They want their money back, with interest.

You knew to expect this, but it just reminds you that you aren't doing anything with your degree that you spent all of that money on. And since you aren't using that degree, you probably are not making the kind of money they are expecting monthly.

You can't find a job.

Maybe you're still unemployed. Maybe you did find a job, but you're only making slightly-above minimum wage and you're miserable there.

The truth is, no one can find a job. "A college degree just isn't worth what it used to be", is a statement you've heard a million times since you graduated, and it only makes you feel more and more miserable every time you hear those words uttered...

From the time someone was able to explain to us what college was, we were told that if we got a degree, we'd be set. No one said it would be easy, but they did say it would be possible - which seems like a %#^&!?@ lie right about now, doesn't it?

No Job = No $

If you don't have job, you're not making ANY money. If you did find a job, you probably wish you were unemployed still, anyways.

Between gas money to get to work, purchasing the appropriate attire for said job, rent/bills, and paying back student loans (you get to do that now that you're employed, yay...? ugh...), those paychecks are gone before you even get to celebrate them.

So, you have a job AND you're broke, now. Awesome. Good thing you didn't want to do or buy ANYTHING, EVER....

"Do what you love!"

Age old advice: totally useless for you. You don't know what you LOVE. That's the issue. That's the mystery. The miserable, torturous, depressing, mystery. You may LIKE what your degree is in, but you don't love it. It seems so simple, but it isn't. Finding your passion has become what feels like an endless labyrinth of trial, error, and disappointment.

"Ohh! I think I'd really like that!" - too bad it's going to cost more than you'd make in a year to give it a go, so you won't.

Maybe you do find something to try, but you end up not enjoying it at all (after, like, a day) and you're back to square one, again...

To make matters worse, it seems like everyone else already figured it out.

After graduation, there was that time period when EVERYONE was lost and you didn't feel so alone, but that didn't last very long.

Some people went straight off to their dream-school for their master's.

A few snagged degree-related careers right out of the gate, and they LOVE IT.

Some moved home and you haven't seen them since, and you probably won't again.

Some moved to the other side of the country to start fresh.

Shit, even your younger sibling has a career going, already.

You're happy for them, really. Anyone else being miserable with you, would not make you any less miserable. It IS miserable, though, knowing that all of these people have it semi-figured-out and you're still floating around in "What-The-Hell-Is-Going-On-Land".

Your family has lost all faith (but they're trying, desperately, to keep that from you)

"Everyone moves home after college, honey, don't you think you should?"

"You'll figure it out, eventually..."

"You'll find your passion, I just think it's going to take you a little longer than expected"

"Why don't you just find a job that pays more?"

Thanks, family....

They're trying to help, honestly. They aren't trying to remind you that you're hardly making it on your own, and they don't even know the half of it. "When I was your age..." stories are starting to sound WAY better than anything you're going through right now and it your family has, literally, NO understanding of your struggles.

This is not the, "YOU JUST DON'T GET IT, MOM!" temper-tantrum you threw in middle school about having a crush or wanting to go to a party, because they actually DID get it, you just couldn't see that. This is much different and it's kind of like having your fingernails ripped off one by one while someone squirts lemon juice in your eye every time they call with "an idea for you!"

You thought you'd matter more by now.

This is a wide-ranged emotion, because there's a million different ways to matter, and you thought you'd qualify for at least one by now.

People are blowing up your social media feeds with engagement announcements and wedding photos - they matter to someone.

Same goes for people having babies - they matter to that baby.

Some people can't just call into work, they're needed. They matter. Not you.

Some people are volunteering in third-world countries, building schools - they matter.

It's not that you wish you had those things, you just desperately desire the "feeling of mattering". You really thought by now you would - in some way, any way.

You can't afford to matter, anyway.

So you want to make a difference? You want to travel the world and volunteer in third-world countries? You want to start your own business pursuing your hobbies?

Good luck. You can't afford it. International volunteering is actually quite expensive (as backwards as that seems) and it feels like as soon as you find something you could do, something you could actually be good at and maybe even love, you find out what it would cost you to even begin and you spend the rest of the week in a bed-ridden depression.

So what are you supposed to do?

I don't have an answer. If I did, it wouldn't be the right answer for you, anyway. You already figured that out by now, though. Everyone who actually has their shit together tries to give you advice that'll push you down their rabbit hole:

"Well, I met Jason while I was getting my master's; you should go get your master's and find someone to marry and have kids with there!"

"I really love working in my field; it's super cool. I KNOW you said you hate blood and guts and stuff, but I think you should give it a try!"


It's not the rabbit hole for you. If it was, you would have jumped in already, voluntarily.

Figure it out, I guess?

I guess "We'll figure it out, eventually." right? Or not. Who knows? Maybe we'll just wander and be broke forever. Trial and error is our only option.

So, try what you really want to try (once you save enough money to afford it) and if you hate it, start back at the beginning. We're already at rock bottom; we might as well search for happiness while we're down here.

It's not new-found-quick-fix-miracle-advice, but it's all I've got.

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