A Sobering Twentysomething Reality

This is all the encouragement I need.

I have derealization sometimes.

Derealization is the hijacking of the world you thought you knew. Everything familiar becomes unfamiliar. You experience your life for the very first time. Nothing feels real. Things we take for granted become absurd. Like working 40+ hours a week at a job you hate so you can afford your mass-consuming lifestyle. Leaving little time and energy for things you actually want to do. Twenty years, a mortgage, other bills, kids, and a divorce sneak up on you. Next thing you know, you’re buying a motorcycle and dating twenty year olds to keep yourself from jumping in front of a train.

Isn’t that absurd?

The derealization began after I got my Bachelor’s degree and became acquainted with our unforgiving job market. I felt confused, rejected, insecure, and above all else: cheated.

It was like the system failed me. Yes, the system that I trusted for my entire academic life had failed me. Parents, teachers, and other important figures had been lying this entire time.

Go to university and get good grades so you can get a good job.

Schools have taught us how to think, communicate, and be a good employee at a cubicle farm. Since Kindergarten, we’ve been learning how to follow instructions. We’ve always been given instructions on what to do, and how to do it. We were rarely, if ever, given an opportunity to figure things out on our own.

That is, until we graduated from university.

Thrown into the deep end.

From a young age, we were taught the golden virtues of success: get a university education, do well, and ye shall reap the rewards of a good job. The system is a sham. Having a degree is not enough. I know more than two handfuls of morons incapable of eating soup without drowning. They have degrees. Having a degree is not special. People can get a Bachelor’s degree in almost anything. Does that mean that they are employable? No. It just means that they [most likely] have tuition debt to pay off.

So does anyone care that you have good grades? Well, you do. And your parents. And a grad school admissions council, if you choose that route. I have yet to meet an employer that cares about my transcript. I have “summa cum laude” (highest academic honours) and “finished program a year early” bolded in the education section of my resume. I also have four years of work experience. Non-retail, entry to mid-level work experience. I’m also fluent in two languages, and working on becoming fluent in a third.  Some interviewers seemed mildly impressed.

If being mature, hard-working, competent, enthusiastic, personable, and eager to learn are not enough, then what is?

Here’s how my job hunt has been so far:

  • Edited my resume a hundred times and tailored it to positions of interest. Meaningful key words sprinkled about.
  • Network with people in the industry and get valuable information that can be used later.
  • 3/4 of resumes get lost in cyberspace. No contact person or information available for followup.
  • 1/4 of resumes earn an interview.
  • Interviews include: no offer. Other colourful interview experiences include: getting talked out of the job because I’m overqualified (yes, this happened). Or having a disastrous interview because I overdressed (is there such thing?). Oh, and the hiring manager didn’t like my purse. Yes, this happened at a very well-known and reputable multinational corporation.
  • Insecurity, feelings of rejection, and confusion settle in.

I don’t want to work at a cubicle farm. While I respect everyone who earns an honest living, I don’t want to sell credit cards or work at an insurance company. I want to be interested in my work. I want to be challenged. And I want to grow.

Given the current job market, is this even possible? What are other people doing differently?

Moreover, since we were grossly mislead misguided for most of our lives, doesn’t it seem absurd that twentysomethings are expected to have it all figured out?