It’s funny how employment is the most important thing in a human life. From youth, we’re told that education is meant solely as a path to our career–a career which we must ultimately choose long before we’re ready. Kids don’t learn anymore, they prepare. For test after test after test. You don’t have to be the best you can be, you just need to be better than everyone else.
I was never the best. I’m still not. I don’t say that because I’m trying to be deep or grab sympathy from the world, I say it because the past year of job searching has dug that fact into my cranium. From countless unanswered applications, to the countless “We regret to inform you…,” job hunting becomes a game of how confident can I be before I break. I played the game for a while, pretty successfully too. I shirked off rejections from BuzzFeed’s Editorial Fellowship and a BuzzFeed Style internship because deep down I know I’m not the kind of writer whose main concerns are page views and social shares. I bounced back after a potential Refinery29 interview fell through. I’m even still managing to keep my head up after being cut after two months of hoping and praying, and three different interviews, for the Huffington Post’s Editorial Fellowship. My self-esteem and confidence in my writing has taken some major curb stompings to the balls, but life always goes on.
I don’t harbor any anger or resentment towards these publications, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sauty from time to time. This is how the media industry works, at least in this country. A lot of a person’s success depends on who they know, where they live, and how much money they have. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school, I don’t live in New York, and I’m broke as hell. Sure, it would be swell to waste my time writing or interning for popular publications for free, but I don’t have that luxury. I’m lucky enough to have family I can stay with, but that does not mean that everything is smooth sailing. I don’t come from a rich family, and almost everyone around me is struggling in one way or another. And here I am not contributing anything. It’s a truly terrible feeling for one who holds themselves to high standards. Soul crushing would be close.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to surviving the shame of unemployment that comes from within or from others (family members can often be the worst offenders). I don’t have any answers, and the answers I do have probably only work for me. Plus, who wants advice from an unemployed feminist gay boy anyways? But I will share some wise words I heard recently when I visited by alma mater.
The man, Calvin Wang, was speaking at my school’s ALANA (African America, Latino, Asian, Native American) Alumni & Friends Dinner. He said that memories are fleeting. If we want to remember things we have to consciously do so because our memories are not trustworthy–they won’t just deliver the events, conversations, and occurrences that we want and need to not only be happy, but to ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes. It takes effort to remember the late night conversation you had with an acquaintance that suddenly upgraded them to best friend status, or the 3 AM visit to the local diner, or how proud you were the first time you rode a roller coaster with a loop. You have to dig through your mind to find these things, to remind yourself that life isn’t always so bad and that you’ve blessed in one way or another. It’s easy to be miserable and give up. It takes strength to look for the good among the bad–to admit that maybe we’re lucky in some ways and that our problems aren’t actually worse than everyone else’s. I look back because I want to be able to look forward with clarity and strength.
Remembering is one of the greatest joys of humanity, as is creating memories worth remembering. Your life itself is an album and you should be filling it with as much joy and insanity as possible. We’ve only got the one life so why are people living like they’re waiting on something, like life is just going happen to them? The world will never give you happiness because our world is dominantly capitalist. Here happiness is purchased and then quickly upgraded so that the happiness you have is suddenly out of date. Think about people, conversations, hugs, cuddling, laughing loudly in public places, singing songs in tandem, driving with the windows down in the summer, and being the group that’s having so much fun that all the bitter people within a ten-mile radius moan in unsatisfied-with-life power. That’s how I’m choosing to live, and it is a choice.
Like I choose to celebrate my birthday like a child because that’s what I want and just because I’m an ancient 23-year-old doesn’t mean I need to act like one. I still have ice cream cake every year. And I’ve gone to Dave & Busters the last three years. What am I supposed to do on my birthday? Have a party so people can drink and annoy the poop out of me? Go to a club and lose my voice shouting all night? Or worst of all, have a big celebration with my entire family? I’ll pass on all the above and stick to my arcade games and tickets, but that’s just me and what does and doesn’t float my boat.
My boyfriends got to meet more of my friends and we talked about anime, so all in all it was a pretty unforgettable night. Definitely something I happily think back on when the job hunt gets me down. I refuse to let society strip me of my happiness. I might be jobless, but most of the people with jobs are just as unhappy as I am. So really who is the winner here (clearly them because they have money but…)?
In other news, I lost another virginity of mine–my hair dyeing virginity. I was not about to pay for a salon to do it, so I had my boyfriend Tommy help me because he’d worked in a salon before. First we bleached it, which royally sucked. Like I swear I’ve never wanted to scratch my head so bad in my entire life. Once the bleach was washed out, I thanked Jesus. Tommy then told me really liked blondes and started kissing me. Two seconds in as a blonde and I was already reeling people in.
I would’ve thought about playing around as a blonde for a bit, because it was so new and so cool to me, but then my other boyfriend, Robert, had to ruin it by telling me I looked like two people I loathe, Eminem and Justin Timberlake. I gagged and at that moment decided the purple dye was going in ASAP.
I’ve got a lot of new things planned, aside from my hair. It’s time for change. Seriously this time. Whenever I get worried I remember RuPaul’s wise words on Twitter, “Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back.” I’m gonna go all out, get myself a job, and let the world know I’m a someone in this world and that they need to catch up and realize it too. If you’re struggling to find a job, just hang in there. You are far from alone. I won’t sugarcoat the situation, but what I can say is something Tommy told me, which is, the only way you can truly fail is to give up.