‘I’m ashamed of being unemployed’

Illustration: Pedro Nekoi

This column was first published in John Paul Brammer’s Hello Daddy newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack.

Hello Daddy!

Things just aren’t working for me. I’m in my early twenties and graduated about five years ago from a good public university, the kind where your friends graduate, immediately get well-paying jobs in respectable fields, and start their nice, stable lives. (Read: my friends, not me.)

I did my best in college despite my severe anxiety disorder, and by the last year I had worked multiple jobs in my field of graphic design and had a strong resume and portfolio. Then came graduation, and I was refused Of all the many, many jobs I applied for. my anxiety spiral through the roof.

In a confused attempt to regain control of my life, I packed my things and moved to New York City as many young gay men do. I eventually got an internship that would look great on my resume and open many doors for me. Except it ended, and it didn’t, and I was tired of working my shitty retail job, so I moved back home and it shot up even more.

Cut to the pandemic when I tried to move into the gaming industry, which led to a low-paying entry-level job that ended abruptly after a year and a half when my employer told me to move to Los Angeles in a month or quit. . Six months later, and I haven’t found a job in either field. To make matters worse, I got rejected today after a third interview for a job that I’m 95 percent sure I didn’t get because I’m gay. (They were two 50-year-old straight men who were very concerned if I could fit in with the “company culture.”)

My self-esteem is so intertwined with my career, and after so much failure and rejection, I feel deeply and achingly inappropriate. I know it’s not all, and I I have a lot to be thankful for like great friends and some financial stability, but every time I think about my career, I despair. I am currently doing it now. Daddy, how can I separate my career from my value?

signed,
I spiral so much that I feel like a toilet

Hello, Spiral!

Wow, did you move to New York without a plan? That made me anxious just reading it. I came here with a plan over six years ago and I’m still on the mend.

Look, your 20’s are for being humiliated. Right after graduating from college, I started searching for “writing jobs,” then “jobs that involve writing,” and then “jobs where the words are used in some way.” My first job was managing a social media account for a knitting company with less than 200 followers. It was not paid, and after two weeks they stopped responding to my emails even though I still had their passwords.

I will say though that this was before Twitter had “threads” and yet it was using “threads” as the fun topic for the weaving company. “I wish we could put these tweets together!” I think I once tweeted in a series of thread posts. I was an innovator that the knitting community was not ready for.

Anyway, I spent my first week in New York bumping into a gothic woman, a friend of a friend who generously shared her air mattress with me. We were both on it. I had six roommates and I think we said three words to each other. Two of them were “good night.” Find the helpers.

Despite everything, I was absolutely certain that my fulfillment would come from getting a career, a real job. At that point, he could finally be a real human. I could have after-work drinks with my colleagues and talk business with other professionals in my industry and I’d know, deep down, that a corporation looked at my portfolio and said, “Now here’s a young man with a bright future in blogging. ”

It’s only natural, Spiral, to seek that kind of approval! The constant paycheck and medical care certainly don’t hurt either. If the job even offers that kind of thing. I really don’t know these days. It feels like a company could have interns fight each other over leftover lunch wrappers from the conference upstairs and someone would seriously reply, “You guys wrappers?

Still, in a world ruled by corporations and capital, it makes sense that being outside the system would feel completely invalidated. But the thing about the system is that you have countless ways to incorporate it. In all likelihood, you’re going to get a job. You’ll love it? Will it be in your preferred field? So much, I don’t know. But you’ll probably get one.

That job could lead to another, and you could fight yourself by going all over the place in your career, since careers are rarely straight lines for those of us who aren’t. nepo babies (see? I’m topical) or born into fabulous wealth. In the concert constellation, you might as well connect the dots in a nice way. I think, on this front, you’ll be fine.

But another thing the system is good at is reducing us to our usefulness. You are working for another entity that has no real incentive to I care about you beyond what you can offer them. Leave most of you at the door and walk in ready to grind all day. You are expected to give 100 percent without being 100 percent.

It’s no wonder that people who seem to consistently win at this game tend to be, well, sociopaths. We live in a system that rewards selfishness. It’s wise to objectify workers, because if you start thinking of them as full human beings, it becomes much harder to justify the structure of everything around here.

But even if we acknowledge these things or think of ourselves as non-participants in “hustle culture,” we can still fall into the habit of objectifying ourselves. We define ourselves by our production, by what we are capable of contributing to a company, by our salaries. This is silly. You don’t need to do the corporations’ work for them. Very soon you will be thought of in these terms.

It may not seem like a very productive time for you right now, but I hope that as you apply for jobs and face rejection on your way to your next career milestone, you take this time to reflect on your goals, what you want, and how who are you. These are things you can take with you from job to job, and they will lead to greater satisfaction in the long run.

The road is long, crooked, embarrassing, and deeply foolish. Having friends and passions will make it tolerable. Maintaining a sense of identity in a dehumanized world is a powerful thing. Now is a good time to practice.

I wish you a very pleasant “just follow up”.

With lots of love,
Daddy

Originally Posted on January 16, 2023.

This column was first published in John Paul Brammer’s Hello Daddy newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack. Buy JP Brammer’s book Hello Daddy: How to come out in a Walmart parking lot and other life lessons, here.

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