Unemployed and living at home? I’ve been there and so have the majority of my friends. There comes a time in every young person’s life when they finish school and are thrust out into the real world wondering what to do next…with absolutely no job prospects. The future looks bleak.
They (meaning our parents, our teachers, and strangers on the street) told us that we had to go to college if we wanted to succeed. Someone pompous (usually a keyboard warrior) will always tell that you should’ve gone to a trade school or community college, but that’s in retrospect. We were told we could do whatever wanted! That all we had to do was pick something we loved, borrow money from the federal government, spend anywhere from two to eight years in school and afterwards we’d find a job, pay back Uncle Sam, buy a house and start living our own version of the dream.
Of course, that didn’t happen. In 2008, President Bush came on my TV screen and basically said, “Welp! We’re screwed.” The economy had taken a turn for the worse and thing were going to get bad. I was in my junior year of college then. I figured by the time I graduated, things would get better. I received my B.A. in December 2010. Things were not better.
40 percent of the unemployed are millennials. Student loan debt in America is some number that I am not fully convinced is real (ONE TRILLION DOLLARS?!) The job market is a sad joke and too many of us are going back to living at Hotel Mom and Dad—or other relatives. If you thought society would have sympathy for us, especially the baby boomers who told us to just go to college and everything would be all right, you thought wrong.
Unemployed young people, and unemployed people in general, are treated like the weird neighborhood kid who won’t stop asking to play with you. When I was between undergrad and grad school, I couldn’t find a job to save my life. I was sleeping in my parents’ basement, with no money, very few friends in my hometown to commiserate with and spending most of my days applying to entry-level jobs, low-paying jobs and finally unpaid internships. I got nothing. I stayed unemployed for the entirety of 2011.
Every time someone said, “you’re soooo lucky, you don’t have a job!” I’d scream internally. Every time a baby boomer waxed nostalgia about how they moved out of their parents house when they were 11 and a half and paid for college using magic beans, I’d ask them for the $1,600 a month it would take to rent an apartment for myself.
When I finished grad school in Summer 2013, I went home to resume my basement/job search life. Some people were incredulous that I lived with my parents at the ripe old age of 24, but my only other option was to sleep outside.
To ease the pain, I’d call it funemployment, but in reality it wasn’t very fun at all. I had worked hard, I had done everything they told me to do, but yet I was still sleeping in my childhood bed (side note: it’s a pretty comfortable bed) and spending my days twiddling my thumbs. After more than six months of whining incessantly to my friends and serious finger cramps from typing applications, I finally found an unpaid internship…than a paid internship and finally a full time position (though the pay hasn’t rendered me filthy rich, I’m just happy to be doing a job I love).
But I am not an anomaly. I have bright, intelligent, hard working friends who have spent months looking for work, being rejected from jobs that only required a high school diploma or sometimes taking jobs they are extremely overqualified for because the bills have to be paid and they didn’t have parents to fall back on.
Are we lazy? Not even close. Are we entitled? No, we just want a place to sleep and food to eat. So, why do unemployed young people get treated like moochers who just want everything handed to them? How is working your ass off for months (for no pay) being lazy, entitled or spoiled?
We inherited a terrible economy. College is more expensive, living is more expensive and to top it all off, employers want an employee with experience, but you can’t get any experience without a job. (I wanted to *ragequit* the first time I saw “1 year experience required” for an unpaid internship.) So the next time some baby boomer (it’s usually them, but if it’s a fellow young person, get new friends immediately!) chastises you for not having a job or living at home or not having kids yet, just tell them you were counting on living the dream they sold you.