I froze as I gazed at my High School counselor when she mentioned college. She turned in her swivel chair and looked at me, a frozen student unable to utter any words at the mention of higher education. I knew what was going on in my mind, a million things I could not ignore. I thought of my single mother, working so hard to support us, I thought of my younger sister and her amazing potential, I thought of the other choices I could do other than school, I thought of how it would place such a hard burden on the most important people in my life. I thought all of this in a split-second before silently replying, no.
Of course my counselor tried to convince me otherwise, but the feeling in my gut had already consumed me body and soul. I felt my very being drop to the lowest parts of the world, of my mind, simply because I knew without that security, life would be very tough from here on out.
Maybe I could get a job? Maybe, I could be an adult . . .
I found out the hard way.
Life is so damn difficult.
First off, living in this age, as a millennial, you're bound to come across some very opinionated people *cough cough* baby boomers *cough cough* generation x *cough cough*— who really like to push your buttons when you do just the slightest thing wrong. You all know what I'm talking about, right?
In the beginning when I told my mother I wasn't going to college, she didn't ask much on why I didn't want to go. I can vividly remember her simply replying, okay, get a job.
Sounds well and dandy, right? But then again do you know how much of a train wreck the job market is nowadays, especially when you don't have a college degree? Let me just say that it was really painstaking the very first few weeks out of high school. The schedule for me was: wake up at a reasonable time, apply for jobs, clean up around the house, pick up my sister from school, make dinner, write until the wee hours of the morning, and repeat.
I must've applied to hundreds of jobs. And not a single one contacted me back, solely on the fact that I'd never had any experience.
It was frustrating for me then, and it is especially frustrating for me now, since it's still hard trying to find a job even with experience. Employers, can I ask why it's so easy for you to deny these kids employment, when you know that us millennials are doomed?
Older people must be reading this, ready to pounce on my words with a, you probably didn't work hard enough. back in my day . . .
Yes, back in your day you could buy gum for a nickel. These days, I dare you to apply for a job, any job, from Taco Bell to a retail store— I want you to come back here after a few days and tell me if you've been called in for an interview.
I. Dare. You.
After some time had passed, I finally got a call for my very first interview. It was at the local library right down the street from where I lived. At that time I thought of the endless possibilities that could occur. Because really, after experiencing denial more times than I'd care to say, I didn't have hope that anyone would want me.
And sure enough, after interviewing with them, completing specific tests and whatnot— a few weeks passed, and they never called back.
That was the only job I came close to getting in that year.
Sad. I know. I lived it. What's more sad is the fact that I resided in a relatively luxurious area with, luckily, rent that wasn't high for my family. So throughout my struggles, I had to watch the cool rich kids walk around with their Supreme T-shirts, Gucci bags, and Starbucks in hand. I had to watch as kids from my school went off to college to study and enhance their skills. I had to accept that I may never get a proper job or an education. But above all, I needed to somehow convince myself that I would never do what I love for a living.
Soon, the rent became too high for my family, and since my sister applied to a school in my old neighborhood, we moved on.
We moved on, back to my childhood town, where of course I hated it. What I hated more though, was my mother constantly pushing me with this whole job situation. In her eyes I could tell that she saw me as lazy, doing nothing but writing. It was infuriating that she did not pay any attention to the work I was putting in to get a job.
Honestly, job-hunting does a lot to you, body and mind. It fucks you up, literally, when all the process does is endlessly repeat, over and over again. It makes you think, hey, maybe i really am unwanted in this world? maybe the skills I have aren't worth it.
It got so bad, to the point where my depression worsened. But of course, I didn't want to burden my family further, and so I kept quiet about it. Even in times when I knew that being alone in a house full of sharp objects would be dangerous.
I've never spoken about this before. It must be said though, because the world is big and there must be someone out there who needs reassurance that they aren't alone in this struggle.
After my search for a job, I finally got one. And then after I was let-go from that one, I got another one. When I left that one, I got another one, but then . . .
I couldn't keep the job because, well, car insurance is expensive. It's even more expensive if you've been in an accident.
Kids get into accidents, we're young, we learn from our mistakes. I get it. I understand completely. Insurance companies though, are absolute demons! Why the hell are you making this 21 year old pay $400 a month just to drive?!
My job was only part-time, and since a branch of it closed down, many employees were transferred to my department, which resulted in me getting only one day of work every two weeks.
Listen, I applied to many other jobs out there, thinking, hey, i've got experience now, so maybe it'll be easier getting another job this time around!
I couldn't continue driving my gas-guzzling truck back and forth for two hours with my high insurance and lack of a second job. I wondered, immensely, how people I knew had more jobs than I. Was it luck? Was it bribery? Did they have connections? For a while, I thought most of my coworkers were secretly wizards or something. Just how were these kids able to live on their own and attend school?
I was and am still living with my family. It's crappy, being a burden, and it's even more crappy to learn that I'm now unemployed, again, without a car, again, and without an education. It made me realize that, the older I get, the more unwanted I will become. It's totally fucking me up, psychologically, and it's also not helping when it comes to updating my resume.
Life became troublesome. Well, it was already troublesome, but now it's troublesome and more annoying.
My mom would pester me at times. For example, a real conversation I had with her a while back could explain clearly the conversations we have on a daily basis:
"honey, why don't you just work on wall street?"
"mom, you need a college degree for that.
"no way! what degree do you need?"
"economics, mom. ECONOMICS!"
And then my grandmother would also harass me too. She would go into stores and ask the cashiers if they could give me a job. She would push me into Target and make me ask anyone in sight if I could have a job. I obviously know it doesn't work like that at all. Nowadays you have to fill out applications online that take literal hours. But grandma didn't know that. Old people don't know this! And thus I am doomed to experience this constant embarrassment.
There's also the issue of not having a college degree. In this day and age, if you don't have a college degree, then you are completely . . . fucked? Yeah, you're totally fucked.
But then again, take a look at how expensive it is to go to school. I knew some people in my semester at university who just got up and left without saying a word because they were so done.
It's hard. I'm $20,000 in debt, and I have no way of paying it back. The result of that is, the school won't release my transcripts— so I can't enroll in a different school. They literally control my future, which is scary. They have their sleazy hands on me, preventing me from getting an education solely because I am poor.
This is one of the issues many young people like myself have. We can't go to school, no matter how hard we try. My mom simply brushes it off by saying, oh, you can just get scholarships or something.
But mom, don't you know how hard it is to get scholarships when so many other people want them too? Mom, the reason why my sister received scholarships is because they gave them to her due to her crazy good grades. Not every one of us has a 3.8 GPA. Mom, it's near to impossible for a lot of us to go to school.
It's a sad reality.
And when I spend hours looking for affordable programs, they always end up being around $2,000 a semester! I can't afford that. Not many can. It's utterly ridiculous.
Then there's the issue of employers only hiring those with degrees. My dream is to publish novels, work for Buzzfeed, and to travel the world.
Well, apparently only people with a bachelor's degree can do that
Many of us are capable human beings. We can write, we're creative, some of us may be geniuses— the possibilities are endless. We're capable of amazing things. Yet we don't have the means to show our craft. At times, we're banished from doing what we love because the opportunities presented are only available for those who have degrees.
It truly is so frustrating when the only way I can get paid is if I write an essay for a college student or an employer who doesn't know how to write. It reminds me that opportunities are only given to a few people in the world.
It fucking sucks.
It's time to write a silver lining in this depressing article.
Back when I was looking for jobs after high school, I found an outlet of sorts. My sister saw that I was creating stuff on my own, and she suggested I publish them on a platform where other people could see them.
Yes, she suggested Buzzfeed.
When I began uploading my creations, I noticed that people actually took a liking to them. They took my quizzes, read my articles, and for the first time I received fan mail. It made me think, wow, it feels good when I make other people smile like this. it's worth all the hard work.
Buzzfeed became a way I could carry my voice to others. I grew so happy with the results of what I made, and I was even more happy when my sister's friends showed her some of my quizzes, to which she replied, hey my sister made that!
Of course I experienced the negative side of releasing my creations. At times the feedback was terrible, and sometimes it even made me cry. But every chapter, bad or good, seemed to help me grow better as a creator.
One day, I received an email from a staff member at Buzzfeed. (I won't release their name or type of position they hold in the company). I received that email, an email that encouraged me to apply for the editorial fellowship.
I was surprised because I didn't think anyone would really send me something like that. It was a pleasant surprise, but there was only one little issue . . .
I wasn't enrolled in college at the time, so I wasn't qualified.
I guess the point of this lengthy article was not to throw a pity party for myself, or to make others cry over my problems. I don't want you to feel sorry for me— I only want to explain what I think of when I wake up at 4 AM. I experience an existential crisis, question the meaning of life, weep, eventually I fall back to sleep, and repeat.
Sometimes I get seriously overwhelmed with what I have to do, to the point where I occasionally ask myself, why didn't your mom just sell you to a korean entertainment company at the age of ten? why don't you try out the military? how about you summon a demon butler? why don't you become a professional hitman?
It's highly impossible to listen to my imaginations most of the time. If I look for an escape though, like Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter, I simply can't because I witness people who are already on their feet in some sort of way, struggling or not. It gives me anxiety, and most importantly, an existential crisis. (which is not exactly great when you're sitting in public spaces).
Those are not fun times, but what else can I do?
I am a millennial, after all.