A perspective on life in yours 20s by yours truly (Olivia Dueser 💁🏼) – a single, white, unemployed female just trying to be distinctly average.
This story is not a ‘woe is me moment’, nor a bleak rhapsody of pessimistic words. I just want to share what to expect when the unexpected happens – it’s ok to be in your 20s, unemployed and feeling unloved and average. Trust me when I say you are neither the first, nor the last to feel like this #staypositive.
Society’s expectations, Disney films and childhood literature do not prepare most of us for the harsh realities of life in your 20s. Nobody warns us that no matter how many frogs you kiss, Prince Charming is as likely to exist as you being killed by a vending machine (1 in 112 million). And ‘dream jobs’ are as likely to happen as you finding Prince Charming…Where is the Disney film where the girl doesn’t get her happily ever after? Where is the ‘Little Miss Unemployed’ book? I am 26, single, unemployed, confused and going through my ‘quarter-life crisis’. I feel more lost and hopeless than ever. As I write this article late at night in my sexy silk pyjamas (scruffy may be more fitting), eating ‘Carte D’or Caramel’ ice cream from the tub and puffing away on my e-cig – and yes this is actually happening – I ask myself, ‘How on earth did I get here?’…
Damian Barr, author of the book ‘Get it Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarter Life Crisis’ aptly describes your 20s as, “You’re expected to be having the time of your life but all is your do is stress about career prospects, scary debts and a rocky relationships.” Now just substitute “scary debts” for “spending money not saving ” and “a rocky relationship” for “perpetually single” and hey presto, you have the story of my life. Today I share with you two pivotal phases of my current existence: My Career (lack of) and love life (currently platonic loves rule my astrosphere).
Unemployment is a Dangerous Occupation
From the company ‘going under’ to being ‘let go’; to quitting in a blaze of glory, to forever being an intern, or simply getting ‘fired’ – I have been there, done that, got the bloomin’ t-shirt. Unemployment is a convoluted state of reality…
We have been brought up to pursue our passions, become the next thought-provoking leaders of the world, to fight for what we believe in and the world is our oyster. What they forget to tell you is that, that oyster is dodgy and not as open as it should be… It’s like we are doomed to fail from the start, because, what they do not prepare you at school for is failure. They do not tell you that it lurks at every corner or explain how you should cope when it attacks. To fail even once, does damage to ones psyche – years of therapy needed and perhaps could have been avoided, if maybe my school had spent less time on teaching me how to cook the ultimate roast or encouraging me to partake in important competitions such as inter-house ‘Harry Potter Quiz’ and more time on what to do when life isn’t going your way.
Imagine day after day, week after week, month after month of one rejection after another – an ever reminder that you’re not useful, have no skills and can contribute nothing to society. Recently I have experienced a new rejection, one so dark that even the Dark Lord himself would be sent into a state of despair…ladies and gentlemen I present to you “not the right fit” for no reason rejection. They tell you that it isn’t because you’re not clever enough or sporty enough or young enough, no – somehow, even with a good degree from a good university, a financial qualification, fluent in two languages, sporty, creative, artistic, willing to work for free (no I am not bragging, merely highlighting my positive attributes in case any potential employers read this) you still “aren’t the right fit”…I feel like I’m Lindsay Lohan in ‘Mean Girls’ being told “you can’t sit with us” just for being yourself… #BeingYourselfIsntEnough
Unemployment also affects your relationships in ways you did not think possible. You are lead to a double-edged sword when interacting with your friends and family: if they don’t ask about how your job hunt is going, you think they don’t care and this makes you angry and anxious. On the other hand, if they do, that can lead to awkward conversations of why, how and that you might need to think of alternative paths – again you are angry and anxious – they cannot win, neither can you. You become massively oversensitive (not great for those, like me, who are already sensitive, dramatic hypochondriacs) and snap a lot more at your friends and family for no reason. You over think every little detail and situation in your life – situations which were not situations until you made it into a situation – even just writing that out makes me feel drained…you unintentionally make your life harder #Drama.
Quick word of advice for the unemployed – try not to snap at your friends and family – this is when you need them more than ever and they are your lifeboat through this thorny journey…
For all the cynicism I have been spouting in this article, I do have positive vibes and hopes for the future…Unemployment has inspired a period of self-reflection in me and I am learning a lot about who I am and that I’m capable of more than I think. And most of all it has taught me to use what makes you happiest as a starting point for your career search.
To be continued..
Next month Olivia delves deeper into the dubiety of dating in your 20s.