The twenty-something’s guide to unemployment

YouIsKindNearly three years ago, I started this blog as a favor to the Undergraduate Admissions staff. They wanted a view through my eyes to show to prospective students what daily life at Temple looked like. Only a few of the tour guides agreed, so I thought, sure, I’m a journalism student, give me a platform to write about how much I love my school.

But it’s turned into so much more. I never gave it a focus. It’s not fancy or cute or innovative, but it’s mine.

A blog is supposed to be the best presentation of your life, right?

You put your best foot forward to say to the world, “Hey! Look over here! My life right now, whatever I’m writing about or photographing or experiencing — it’s great.”

This blog might have started out as one for Admissions, but I’ve got an admission of my own — a lot of the time, our lives aren’t perfect. We aren’t great. Many times, I’m not great.

One of my favorite movements, To Write Love on Her Arms, has a saying — people need other people.

And in times like this, when we aren’t at our best, people do need other people.

So here I am, being your person.

I’ve shared a lot on this blog. A lot of good times, that is. I’ve written around a lot of difficult patches in the road, omitting them, pretending they aren’t there.

But there’s a big one there now.

A few hours ago, I started looking through my pictures to see where I could fill in the holes from my summer with blog posts. How many posts of happy, smiling photo galleries would it take to look like I had my life together, like I wasn’t unemployed, living at home, looking for a job?

I’ve done the unemployment thing before, right after I graduated from Temple. Eight months of tears and frustration and embarrassment and self-doubt before one person decided to give me a chance. And that chance is like walking out of Plato’s Cave — you never fully realized how dark it was until you see the sun again.

I worked my butt off to graduate early from college, applied high and low, but it took eight months for that chance to come in the form of a year-long postgraduate program in Atlanta — a dream internship covering college sports for I finished with an entirely new resume worth of experience — I covered the College World Series, I wrote stories I was passionate about, I managed one of the most trafficked sites in athletics.

But then, in an instant, it was over.

And all the work I’d put in and networking I’d done and expectations I’d had for life after didn’t prepare me for another spell of unemployment that felt like it had never left in the first place.

The sports journalist who (still) loves her career fiercely, who smiles too much, eats too many sweets, laughs too hard, and takes entirely too many photos? She’s still here. But the girl who feels a little lost and a little lonely and a little down? I know she’s not alone.

In 2013, 13% of American twenty-somethings were unemployed. It’s hard and it’s humbling. There are good days and there are bad days.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the excuses before — it’s just bad timing, the right thing will come along, just be patient, maybe you should try another career, stop being so negative, get a part-time job, etc. And those people mean well. But it’s easier said than done.

It’s hard to have a good attitude when you blame yourself.

It’s hard to be strong when rejection letters knock you down every day.

It’s hard to believe in yourself when you question your merit.

It’s a challenge, but not a challenge you can’t overcome.

People need other people. We need each other.

And so, like Plato called for, I’m going back into the Cave to pull you out with me. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. But somehow, we have to put one foot in front of the other and lead each other out of that Cave.

I lean on my friends, on my family. I chuckle and call it “funemployment.” I watch lots Boy Meets World reruns and get my hands on as many new books as I can. I cuddle with my dog and eat pints of Turkey Hill ice cream. In my book, if I don’t have a breakdown, I call it a good day. And my new full-time job is finding a full-time job.

But I’m always proactive. I’m always ready. You never know when you’re going to get that call.

And you will get that call.

People need other people. We need each other. 13% of our demographic, our peers, our friends, are in the same boat. I may not be great at math, but 13% is a lot of people who feel the same distressed feelings you do, right at this very moment. There are two sides to the unemployment battle — the professional one and the personal one. While a community of twenty-somethings might not be able to help professionally, they can certainly help personally. So let’s build each other up, admit and learn from our weaknesses, and lean on those who know best what you’re experiencing.

Is it hard to stay positive when you doubt your self-worth? Yes.

Is it easy to get depressed, defeated, and throw yourself a pity party? Yes.

Am I embarrassed to admit all this to those outside of my innermost circle? Yes.

Am I nervous to be this vulnerable? Yes.

But if even one person reads this, relates, and gets a shred of reassurance that someone, somewhere knows what they’re going through, well, isn’t that also the point of a blog? It’s more disheartening than your friends and family will ever understand, but you don’t have to do it alone. I know that you is kind, you is smart, and you is important. And you can do this. You will do this. And one day soon, some great employer will be so lucky to have chosen you.

For those days you can’t believe in yourself, I will believe in you.

And for those days I can’t believe in myself, I hope you will believe in me, too.

Just don’t give up.

Don’t ever give up.

2 thoughts on “The twenty-something’s guide to unemployment

  1. Jen boccardo says:

    Don’t give up! Your dreams will come true. Remember what Douglas Adams said: ‘I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.’, That will happen to you.

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