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 Lovely people, but a useless, outdated position), or just folks I run into, and everyone seems to find their way to the same truth: "Everyone finds their way to a job they love, just maybe not right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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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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Hannah B. Named The Next Bachelorette: Get Excited!!

Roll Tide.

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On the season finale of the hit reality TV show 'The Bachelor' Chris Harrison announced the new Bachelorette to be Hannah Brown, affectionately referred to as "Hannah Beast." Hannah made it far in Colton's season of the Bachelor, but hit some bumps along the way. She was involved in serious drama with costar and fellow pageant competitor Caelynn. Not only is Hannah B. known for drama and tears, she is also known for her awkward and often uncomfortable behavior around the cameras. And let's not forget the most awkward first date and toast of all time...Roll Tide!

Despite her awkward and quirky personality, I think the Alabama native is truly a sweetheart. She cannot be judged based on the controversy that took place between her and Caelynn because no one knows the full truth of the story. In my opinion, no one was completely innocent in their "cat fight" but the way in which each girl handled themselves in the resolution of this drama was mature and, quite frankly, impressive. I think Hannah B's season will be full of more tears and could potentially be very uncomfortable to watch at some moments, but at the end of the say, Hannah B. deserves to find love just like any other 'Bachelor' hopeful. It will definitely be an interesting season to watch, so get excited!!

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