It’s Out There…Somewhere, Kind of

So…the job hunt, eh?

Once again, it’s that special time of year when late spring air is thick with the distinct aroma of flowers freshly bloomed and gowns freshly soiled by graduating seniors who are now very shitlessly scared of being confronted with the daunting task of, well…being a person.

As most of you graduates know, these days, finding a job consists largely of staring at a computer screen and trying in vain to make it convey your individual qualities among a sea of people that are pretty much exactly as qualified as you. This is a task which, at the expense of sounding like another self-involved/self-pitying millennial, is utterly discouraging, demoralizing, and devaluing.

Like many, I am without an undergraduate degree, and like some, it is not for lack of time, money or effort (well, maybe that last one). Which is bad news if you’re looking for work, worse if you’re lacking in work, and effectively a death sentence if your line of work just so happens to be writing. The market for freelance writers in 2014 is not what you’d call inviting, let me tell you.

Benefits include endless hours, a minuscule salary, and a nonexistent 401k. Workspace is generally confined to the cheapest 24-hour coffeeshop that is within walking distance of your squalid, ill-lit studio apartment. Company outings involve yourself and a bottomless glass of well whiskey at a local hole-in-the-wall. Your coworkers are whichever vices you have made irreplaceable along the way. Your schedule is as unpredictable as your superiors, who are as generous with their delegation of content as they are with your next paycheck — which is to say very miserly indeed.

And yet, I’m not going to bemoan the life of a professionally unemployed writer to you, because there would be no point. I say that because there aren’t very many people who have any interest in writing nowadays (and on some days, if I’m honest, neither do I). There are, however, a great deal of people who are in the position of having a great deal of education and little to no idea what to do with it.

This is not uncommon knowledge, as I’m sure you’re aware. But if you’re gearing up with equal parts anticipation and dread right now for one more “20 Things You Need to Get a Job in Your 20’s”, please stop doing so. I don’t have answers when it comes to the job hunt, and anyone who claims to at this age is very probably as full of shit as they are of themselves.

Nevertheless, the current social climate demands a surplus of such literature, and we are very well covered for it. The vast majority of reading is being done on the internet, and the equally vast majority of what’s being read is composed of what are very literally advice columns (albeit, simplistic ones that reside within the confines of a numbered list). Which is kind of awesome, actually. I think there’s something to be said for the brand of general altruism and proactive camaraderie that’s involved in our sort of “we’re-all-fucked-in-this-together” attitude. The issue, I think, is not with the intent of modern blogging; it’s what we take away from it.

Advice columns have always been supremely marketable literature, as they rarely require very much engagement from the reader, save for kind of just sitting there and being told what to do. They are the ultimate way to stay just stimulated enough to make you feel like you’re doing something without ever actually really doing anything. And that’s fine when you’re pitching “10 Ways to Lose Weight” or “5 Ways to Pick the Right Car”. Trouble is, people are now looking for legitimate counsel on real world issues from sources who are predominantly and quite literally incredible (yours truly being included, in this case).

Again, please don’t think that I’m in any way trying to denounce these people for making an effort to help. One of the really cool and unprecedented things about this Internet Age of Immediacy is that we now have universal instant access to countless resources for any given problem (Google acting as the supreme arbiter in today’s world, humanity’s omniscient Wizard of Oz). The trick is knowing which ones to trust.

And the reality is that, when it comes to real world dilemmas, there are precious few applicable solutions in the ocean of data that is the internet….seeing as it is, by definition, an unreal world. Looking to a blog for easy answers and step-by-step guides to life is just as unrealistic as looking to porn for real intimacy — people are getting what they want immediately, but not what they need ultimately.

What’s deeply frightening and uncomfortable to face about this is that we really are on our own in the world now, but together in it…if that makes any sense. The job hunt is a perfect example of this. No matter how much you research or prepare for a job you apply to, the best chance you have at getting it is by knowing the right people. That sucks for a lot of us, but it also reinforces the reality that the best social networking is in the real world, face-to-face. And further, that the best experience is real world experience.

Speaking from such experience, I’ll submit that the hardest part of finding a job is finding the will to try, because that would mean doing something new and prototypically adult. The easiest part is getting discouraged — which is, incidentally, the last thing you can afford to do in the process. But the most important and genuinely rewarding part, I will assure, is accepting that no one is going to make it happen for you, while having faith in your own abilities to do exactly that.

Now stop reading this hypocritical bullshit and go get employed.

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