Santa Maria Sun / Commentary
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 38
When dreams won't comeBeing 20-something isn't as fun as it used to be
BY ANA KORGAN
I thought I had Valley Fever recently. Turns out, I’m just really pissed off.
It’s mostly because I’m so broke. Forget buying new tires for my truck; or doing anything fun; or saving money for the future: I can’t even afford shampoo. Luckily, I could rock dreadlocks if need be.
What sucks is that I don’t have time for a job. I’m busy working for free. Sorry … not for free, just for very little pay considering the effort. I covered an election party up in Paso. It took six hours of my time, required me to drive almost 60 miles, had me talking—or at least trying—to a bunch of people I’d never met before about something I knew nothing about, and kept me up until 1 a.m.
I shouldn’t complain. This gig—interning for New Times, the Sun’s sister paper in San Luis Obispo—has its benefits. The kids who work here are brilliant. I’ve gained friends. I’m making contacts within the community. And whenever somebody mentions that they read one of my articles, it makes me feel … well … good about myself. So, I guess this place—a windowless, basement office with offensively fluorescent lighting—serves as the arena for some type of existential fulfillment. As a philosophy major, that’s all that one can really ask for.
But I am completely bored out of my mind; I’ve never felt so under-stimulated. Part of it has to do with the lack of funds and the inability to afford anything other than going to the office. The other part has to do with the fact that I’m really bad at this news journalism thing. It’s just not a burning passion for me. Reporting the news means fairly and adequately representing parties on both sides of an argument and essentially carries the responsibility of public influence. Serving as an objective agent between A and C is a heavy burden to carry.
I’d much rather be a hip-hop mogul. I’ve heard more provocative, socially relevant things in rap songs than I’ve read in any philosophy book, newspaper, or novel. The problem with this career aspiration is that I can’t rap. It’s harder than it seems. I’m fairly well-articulated in prose, and haven’t any problem saying outlandish or “inappropriate” things, but when it comes to spitting rhymes, I’m reserved and overly self-conscious. So, unless I’m graced with iambic pentameter overnight, this job is the best outlet I have for getting my opinions out to the people. And for it I am grateful.
Unfortunately, existential fulfillment doesn’t pay the bills. I’m fortunate enough to have a mom and dad who are in a position to let me live with them for free, and do. I appreciate this, and while I’d rather live anywhere else, it pains me that I can’t at least throw them $100 for rent. And herein lies my catch-22. I could get a job as, say, a barista, which would enable me to buy shampoo and be a little more socially contributive, in terms of taxes or whatever. But why? Why spend time refining skills that I don’t want to refine; skills that aren’t really going to progress me where I want or need to go with my career and my life? Why spend time on something that is going to take away from that which will make me a better, happier, more successful person?
Don’t get me wrong; I really, really appreciate a well-crafted latte. But shouldn’t such jobs be left for those who enjoy them, and who can’t get a job elsewhere, due to lack of education? And please, do not accuse me of superiority or acting as though certain work is “beneath” me. I’ve got a list of remedial physical labor jobs I’ve held and plenty of people who can attest to them. I’ve no sense of superiority; I work for free, damn it! And, not only do I come into work wearing outfits that are ironed, I am one of the first people to show up at the office in the mornings. I’ve no lack of tenacity or work ethic. I’m just too smart for this shit.
I appreciate you, reader, having made it this far into this commentary. I realize I’m not the only person of my age, competency, education, or mindset in this predicament. I realize we’re all tired of the lament of the underemployed. But thing is, I’ve worked hard for the opportunity to say my piece. I’ve earned the right to a forum other than Facebook.
I wish I had some great insight to bestow upon the readership of this publication that would help to turn America’s economy and job market toward growth and vigor. This problem, this stagnancy of America’s general well-being, is everybody’s problem. I am part of an entire generation drastically under-employed. What is to happen in another 20 to 30 years, when our parents need taking care of and the current leaders of corporations are retiring? Who’s going to take care of things? Who’s going to run this country? Not us. We’ll be under-experienced and too busy slinging coffee for 20-something-year-old CEOs.
But great insight I have not. I’m 25 years old, struggling with my own youthful tribulations and frankly haven’t the experience with public policy to craft some type of stimulus plan. So, I hope this column can serve as a call-to-arms of sorts, to give my fellow youthful compatriots not hope, but a resurgence of confidence and to ask the preceding generations, on behalf of every person between the age of 18 and 30, that you be empathetic and encouraging toward us. Throw us a bone. Because this whole being unemployed and living with your parents thing … it isn’t sexy.
Intern Ana Korgan entertains all reasonable employment opportunities. Contact her at email@example.com.