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Feel Like I Can't Get Off The Ground...

For a few years now, I have been quite frustrated. I sink into periods of bitterness, fight against them and try to remind myself of everything I have to be grateful for, but cannot seem to stop myself from falling into this pit of this quiet despair again and again. I say quiet because it is something that I try not to talk about...it is disturbing to my significant other and my family and I try to be strong and hide these periods of unhappiness. But sometimes, it is very difficult.

My story is similar to thousands, if not millions of other stories. I worked "hard" in school, was accepted to and received a degree from a respectable, competitive university...however, I have not in the last 3 years since graduation been able to quite get the jobs I have tried so hard for. Almost, but not quite. The jobs that I have succeeded in landing have paid very meager wages, so low that I have only for brief periods been able to move out on my own. Not so long ago I would listen to and take advice from people more experienced than myself, who had been in the workforce for considerably longer, but I have decided that most of these well-intentioned people do not really understand what it is to begin your adult life during the Great Recession and feel constantly beaten down in competing for jobs in which "experience" is required. When I graduated from college I began to think I was too educated to work a receptionist job - because that is what I kept hearing from people. People would approach me all the time at my work, curious about my plans now that I was done with school. Now, I would go back to that receptionist job I used to have if only I could! My expectations for my future and my career prospects are much lower. The risks that I have taken in hopes of better opportunities have so far not worked out well for me, and I struggle with how much of my other previous plans I should put on hold while I continue to attempt to better my situation. Like for example, getting married, having kids. I'd like to do these things but in my pathetic (dependent) financial situation I can't even visualize what those dreams would look like. Instead, my life is on-hold and has been for really the last 3 years....

Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish I had not received - and did not still receive - most of the cultural messages I grew up with from society at large. I wish I did not feel this expectation to achieve the "American Dream". I do not believe that I can. Maybe I will, but it's hard to fathom right now. I wish I did not grow up thinking that a four year university degree was my ticket to a good job and success. I think that the highly competitive, keeping up with the Jones's consumer culture of the United States is highly toxic to a person like me. I know I need to throw all my preconceived notions out the window and give myself a chance to start over.
Lotus86 Lotus86 22-25 1 Response Jun 2, 2012

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RockyFjord, thank you so much for sharing your story and thoughts with me. I appreciate hearing about your own experience, and the advice you give while also noting that it may or may not be the right advice for me or anyone else to take :-)<br />
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It is interesting how you mention immigrants and their approach...we U.S. citizens often seem to think they could not know how things work, not having grown up here. In fact, I am starting to believe many immigrants know their way around the systems of this country better than native U.S. citizens do - perhaps because they care so much more to learn the ropes for their survival and do not have the apathy that those born here have. It reminds me of a phrase I've heard in various forms over the years - what would you do if you had no fear? I try to remind myself of this phrase often and I think if I had always acted as such my life would be much richer than it is right now.<br />
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I guess what it comes down to, my impetus for writing this (besides my own personal despair), is there is this ever-growing disconnect in this country between the cultural messages given to people about opportunity and freedom, and the actual reality of this country in which both of those things are diminishing. And instead of being honest about this, we (or rather, the powers that be in this country - public schools, government, big business...) continue to indoctrinate young people with the belief that hard work will give you the rewards you seek. I do not believe this is true and I wish these messages would stop. "Hard work" is a necessity yes but it is not sufficient in itself - there are so many other things at play, things that we don't even recognize working against us and our hard work and we cannot always listen to all this crap from talking heads on television or even our neighbors, family, or friends.<br />
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It is true that letting go of old fantasies - like the white picket fence - is more of a relief than anything else, and the question remains - where to go from there? I have actually considered and am still considering teaching English abroad. In fact, I said to my family the other day, why didn't I consider this sooner? Well of course, the answer is that wasn't part of the "plan". <br />
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Thanks again for your thoughts. I am going to try to do these things: "Try to just get out there and stay conscious. Do not retreat from life, do not retreat into depression. Try to have fun while you are doing whatever you are doing.". All the best to you!