Disclaimer: Some of the things I’m going to share here are going to surprise some people, because I’m terrible with hiding things. I am going to share my story of going through my 20’s and how difficult it was for me to try and navigate it on my own. If you haven’t seen the first part of the series, you can check that out here.
Alright, so I ranted and raved about the misconceptions that we have, and the reason is I used to believe some of them for myself. Yes, I used to be one of those people that looked down my nose at other people and assumed that, because they got help from the government or lived at home with their parents, that they sucked at life (I was a jerk in my earlier years, because I was surrounded by people who had the same mindset).
I was humbled out of that entitled, overly-conservative mindset quite quickly and effectively.
I got out of college in December of 2007, which was, you guessed it, right after the Great Recession. Granted, I had a liberal arts degree. I went into it knowing that I had to get a Master’s Degree, and planning on getting one. That was totally fine, but the issue was, finding a job would be a little bit of an issue for me.
My mom (God rest her soul) told me that I had to find a job, go back to school, or come home. My friends were all in southern PA, and it had become my home, so I was not all into that. My relationship with my stepdad kinda sucked, and my mom and I weren’t especially close, and I didn’t have a support system up there because I wasn’t really talking to friends from high school (also residue from the legalistic nutcase I was for the first 6 years of my faith).
I tried for 6 months to find a job, and I worked at Little Caesar’s for awhile, until the hives started. I thought it was an allergic reaction to the dough (I found out later on that it was anxiety related), so I quit. I was unemployed, again, and I was applying for jobs all over the place to no avail.
So, I panicked. I did all sorts of things in order to try and make ends meet. I had to go to organizations to get help, I had to ask my mom to help with rent, it was all a big mess, so I did what any logical person would do – go back to school. Note: Don’t panic and go back to school, by the by. The answer to dealing with debt is not “go get more debt.” It worked for me, because it opened doors that I didn’t have, but I have a lot more debt than I did.
I went to school for 2 years and was fine; I had a steady job as a grad assistant (so my tuition was waived) and my housing was set. Grandma got sick my first year of graduate school and died in February. Went through that summer, mom got sick, then passed away in June, about a month after I was hooded (I earned my degree officially in August, but walked in May).
When my mom got sick, old issues started to rear their ugly heads. I went back to counseling in January of my second year of grad school, and they recommended I see the psychiatrist at Ship, who then diagnosed me with the mental health issues that I had always had, but never had a name for.
After my mom died, this is where the spiral started, my friends. I had money saved and had money from my inheritance, but then I got to this point where I had absolutely nothing. As the money was starting to dwindle, and I still couldn’t find a job (any job), I started to panic more and more. And because I do have mental health issues (anxiety and panic disorders being the primary ones), I started to spiral. I was stressed because my mom died, I was stressed because I was poor, and I was stressed because I didn’t know where my rent was coming from every month.
There are people who say that work is out there for everyone. And they are full of it. There are jobs that are left unfilled but that is because they have specialized skillsets that only certain people can fill. There are some people who cannot do certain jobs. I have social anxiety disorder, if I work a job where I’m constantly with the public, I freak out. I tried to get jobs where I wouldn’t interact with people a lot, and no one would hire me, either because I had too much education or because I didn’t fit what they needed. Do not tell me I didn’t try.
And if you think I’m a whiner, you can just shove it. I have an issue, I’m diagnosed with it, and it’s not my fault. If you think I’m lazy or a bad person because of it, screw you. I ignored it for years and tried to just suck it up, and guess what? It just got worse. So no, it’s not all in my head, no, I’m not using it as an excuse, it’s real and it’s there and you need to learn some sensitivity toward people like me.
And because of the way that the system is I could get almost no help. I tried to apply for temporary disability so I could get help and get my life back together, to no avail. I tried to get health insurance, to find that I owned too much (because I own the car that I got when my mom passed away). The only thing that I could get was food stamps, and even though that was a huge help (because it’s good to know that you’re not starving), that didn’t help.
I took a job that I knew I could because I was desperate, and it was terrible for me. It threw me into panic attacks on a regular basis and I ended up quitting after 5 months, and I ended up worse than I was when I started. The good news was, at the same time, I was able to get started in freelancing. I’m still working my way up in there, but I am making more than I was when I was working part time and that’s good.
The result? I’m still sick, and I’m starting to get help from agencies that can help me because I finally made connections that I needed to make. I’m still “poor” because if I make more money than I do now, I won’t be able to get those services, and if I don’t have that access, I won’t get the help I need and that is not okay. I am not in a good place right now mentally, I’ll admit it. I had two very traumatic experiences occur within a month of each other (which I will not disclose unless in private), and that was after my mom and grandma died within 15 months apart about 3 years earlier. If I do not get the help I need things will only get worse with my mental health. I tried really hard, guys. I tried to “pick myself up by my bootstraps” but guess what? I couldn’t. And that’s okay, because that means I can say there’s something wrong and that I’m not making it up.
Why do you care about all of this? Because this all happened in my 20’s. Is my story everyone else’s story? Absolutely not, and I thank God for that because I don’t wish this crap on anyone. But my story is one of many stories of people in their 20’s who can’t get the jobs they need, the ones they are qualified for, because the market is too saturated with unemployed people in our age range who either don’t have enough experience or have too much education. And because of that, I’ve had to learn a lot about finances and budgeting, which I really haven’t gotten to until this point.
Yes, that means that there’s another part to this series, which I will either write on Friday or on Saturday (more likely Saturday), where I will actually talk a bit about the budgeting tips and finance information that I learned when the going got tough.
Have comments or thoughts? Then leave some comments here, head over to my Facebook, or poke at me on Twitter – I will totally communicate back with you! Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this entire mess.