Dealing With Unemployment

Dealing With Unemployment

What happens on May 15?
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Two weeks ago, I finished a roughly complete draft of my extended senior project. That same day, another fellowship prospect I had applied for in the fall finally emailed me back to let me know that I was, unfortunately, not the applicant they were looking for. Though I wasn't too upset about not receiving the fellowship (upon reflection, fellowships seem to be a delaying tactic for many, and I don't believe Pitzer should push students so hard to apply), what it represented was, to me, certainty. I knew what I was doing for at least another year.

I faced a moment of serendipitous anxiety in that moment: one email converted me from a working academic student to a washed-up has-been. The truth of my impending unemployment hit me hard, and for the first time, I realized I am not going to leave Claremont so much as it is going to spit out my picked-clean psychic skeleton.

I've been thinking a lot about what life after school will be like. For the past 22 years, every single step has seemed like a natural progression: do well enough in school to get into college, leave home for college, go to college. The next step is more ambiguous: "Get a job."

To me, having a real career (not just something to make money on the side or a summer gig) is a representation of stability and self-worth, a particular neurosis that deserves an entirely separate analysis. (I've decided to not explore that too deeply here. While the issue of employment works as a frame for this article, at the end of the day it is just that: a frame.)

I've tried talking about what comes next with a lot of gainfully employed people, be they family, well-intentioned career counselors (there is nothing less helpful than going into Career Services with high expectations. Lovely people, but a useless, outdated position), or just folks I run into, and everyone seems to find their way to the same truth: "Everyone finds their way to a job they love, just maybe not right after graduation. You should just be calm and see what happens."

That's easy for them to say.

With rare exceptions (professors, especially those off the tenure track, are the most genuine people in regards to the daily struggle and anxiety of their position), every person who has "found their path" vastly understates the struggle it took to get to where they are.

A lot of people downplay the years of hustling it can take to get to a job that doesn't constantly wear you down, or even the fact that many people never reach that stage. Even public speakers are the same way; we want to hear about how you are a successful lawyer, not the years you spent earning minimum wage to afford night school.

That's not to say that people do not talk about the years immediately following graduation. A lot of the folks I have talked to glorify those days before they made it to where they are, and try to relive it through their consumption. And sure, buying cheap things is part of living as a young, poor adult, but throwing a six-pack of Coors Light into your Whole Foods basket in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood is just too strange a tinge of rose-colored glasses for me to really stand by.

Most of the people you talk to will not mention how much it sucks to get out of school and be unemployed. They remember being in college and they remember their first big break, but the in-between sometimes gets eliminated. That doesn't make them bad people by any stretch of the imagination, it just means that they're not ready to share what may have been a dark part of their life with you. Maybe they don't even think about that anymore; let sleeping dogs lie.

The thing no one will tell you is that, bar none, the hustle doesn't end with college. Unless you somehow managed to network yourself into a job you love (or you're one of the few incredible, wonderful individuals who landed it based on merit), life is going to get a whole lot harder after leaving here. For me, it's going to be the first time I haven't been associated with a large and loving community, the first time facing professional rejection from every angle without school to distract me, the first time swimming against the current every waking moment. There's nothing I can do about it, that's just the way it's going to be.

Full disclosure, with the help of my family and my own penny-pinching, I have enough of a cushion to be thoroughly unemployed for a hot second after May. In fact, I may even be able to get an unpaid internship this summer in a field I love while I stay rent free with my mother, a unique benefit of my class status. While the next few years may not be a happy or a fulfilling time for me, I have to acknowledge that my struggle is relatively minimal, and is by no means a descent into poverty yet. So, take everything this 22-year-old kid says with a hefty hunk of salt.

In dark times, I often turn to literature. As a kid, I was incredibly affected by Orson Scott Card's novels, especially Ender's Game. Though I've since realized Card and I don't agree politically, I can't deny he wove a mean yarn (think of him as Sci-Fi's Harold Bloom, or a less intellectual Ayn Rand). One concept that still sticks with me is having "Speakers for the Dead." Basically, a Speaker would go to someone's funeral and tell the whole truth, not just the pleasantries we normally hear about. That pure honesty of reporting the minute and painful details of a life grabbed me, and I haven't shaken it off since.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, no matter what happens I will not leave the next few years out of my story. When I finally make it to financial stability (if I do; hopefully my degree is worth something), I will not gloss over the nights I spent waiting to fall asleep so a new day at a temporary job can begin, running down the clock on a perfectly youthful existence. Neither will I forget the good times I had, new experiences I learned and grew from.

I'm ready to see what happens, I think.

Cover Image Credit: Richard Linklater

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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The 2020 Election: The Democratic Party Part 1

We all have the duty of becoming politically conscious in order to wisely act on the crucial decision that lies ahead of us in the very near future. In this unbiased, multi-part series you'll be able to get a brief look into both the 2020 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

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The race for the 2020 presidential election is on the rise as 24 Democrats and 2 Republicans have been officially confirmed as potential candidates. Ranging from California to New York, we may recognize "big names" such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, however, it's important to get to know all the candidates in order to have a clear idea as to who you want to be leading the country for the next four years.

*Due to the high number of Democratic candidates, they will all be highlighted over the course of three articles throughout the coming weeks.

1. Joe Biden

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Serving as the Vice President alongside Barack Obama and former senator of Delaware, Joe Biden has already ran for president twice, making the 2020 election his third and what he considers, final time. Biden hopes to strengthen the middle class by raising the minimum wage to a more livable standard. He also hopes to restrict the purchase of guns through background checks as well as being in support of a ban on assault weapons.

2. Bernie Sanders

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Having served on both the House of Representatives and The Senate, Bernie Sanders has caught the attention of many Americans due to his push for universal healthcare with the idea that "All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital." As well as making public secondary-education schools tuition-free in a mission to help lower student debt. Sanders believes in the threat of climate change as his campaign includes the future of passing a Green New Deal to move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy as well as ban fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure. Bernie Sanders additionally believes in abolishing the death penalty, reforming the police system, and ending the discrimination of applicants based on criminal history

3. Beto O'Rourke

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Beto O'Rourke has represented Texas in the House of Representatives from 2013 - 2019. He has a noteworthy platform towards business which includes increasing federal funding towards the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that would aid in creating competitiveness with America's small- and medium-sized manufacturers against global markets. O'Rourke also believes in the idea of increasing voter numbers no matter what the political party may be as well as help ex-convicts regain their right to vote after serving their sentences. In doing so, he plans to create more outreach to the younger generations by ensuring pre-voter registration for all 16 and 17 year olds. Moreover, Beto pushes for a change in creating new term limits for the US House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

4. Kamala Harris

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Kamila is a lawyer and has served as the junior US senator and Attorney General of California. While she is new to the presidential election process, Harris aims to increase teacher pay with the "largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history with a $13,500 raise." Moreover, using her specialization in legal matters regarding sexual assault, Kamila hopes to protect Planned Parenthood as well as women's reproductive rights. Harris states that as President, she will eliminate the wage gap between men and women as well as racial disparities involving maternal health care. Harris additionally hopes in protecting LGBTQ+ rights by not only passing an Equality Act to fight against discrimination in schools, work, and public, but appoint an Attorney General with the purpose of investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals.


5. Elizabeth Warren

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Growing up in rural Oklahoma in a low-income home and eventually serving as a US senator for Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is described as a progressive candidate who's campaign is working towards "universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All." Warren hopes to build the middle class up and defend unionized jobs by allowing 40% of board members to be elected through employees. Moreover, Warren is in favor of strengthening the military as well has bringing troops home from overseas, as well as banning private prisons and decriminalizing marijuana. She additionally has stated to end Washington corruption by banning lobbying along with preventing Senators and Congressman from trading stocks whilst in office.

6. Cory Booker

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Attending Stanford and later graduating from Yale Law School, Cory Booker became the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Booker's main concern is to end gun violence, ban assault weapons, and bring his battle to the attention of the NRA to create "liberty for all." His 14-part plan includes creating a more extensive process to obtain a gun, one of which would including an FBI-issued background check as well as requiring "micro-stamping" on all guns to ensure the ability to trace back the source of ammunition used in crimes. Moreover, Americans seeking a gun license would have to apply for a 5-year license after which would require renewal. Booker has also proposed the idea of providing newborns with savings accounts that would accumulate until they reached 18. He states that this plan would help settle the gap between the classes by offering lower-income households a nest-egg averaging at about $46,000. He also aims to make contraceptives employer-covered and repeal the punishment for an abortion outside of incest, rape, or for the woman's health.

7. Kirsten Gillibrand

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From New York, Kristin Gillibrand became a US Senator in 2009, becoming the youngest person in the Senate at the time. Her 2020 platform includes creating universal healthcare for all that would cover both mental and reproductive health in addition to it's regular standards. Her stance on Medicare For All also stands for reducing the price of prescription drugs as well as aiding in the process of overcoming addiction. Gillibrand also aims to introduce postal banking which would allow those without checking accounts have the opportunity to take out small loans through their local post office. Moreover, she believes in not only the legalization of both medical and recreation marijuana, but in erasing all past convictions from it. Kristin Gillibrand stands with strengthening the middle class by raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, creating paid medical and parental leave for all Americans, and fighting for the right to form unions and protect worker's rights.

8. Amy Klobuchar

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Amy Klobuchar is a lawyer and politician who currently serves as a US Senator from Minnesota. Klobuchar's campaign fights for providing every household in America with high-speed internet by the year 2020 along with aiding farmers by increasing their access to loan programs as well as raising farm bankruptcy debt levels. Moreover, she hopes to better the education system by increasing teacher pay and putting more money towards public schools. As well as increasing the federal Pell Grant and tuition-free one to two year community and technical colleges. Amy Klobucher believes in re-instated the DREAM Act to grant citizenship for foreigners who immigrated to America as minors. She supports immigration reform as well as ending the cruel separation and treatment of families on the lines of the border and creating a refined pathway to gain citizenship.

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