How To Get Screwed By The System

Holy hell friends, have I got a how-to for you. Angry Ian is driving, so buckle up as tight as you possibly can. All strapped in? Good, ‘cause we’re about to get violent up in here.

But first, some soothing backstory. I’m a college student. I’m a college student who’s about to graduate. I’m a college student who’s about to graduate with a B.F.A. (Bachelor’s of Fine Arts) in Acting. This is the part where established adults ask, “So what do you want to do with that?” When I say that I want to go into film acting (or really, if I say anything at all) they follow with, “Oh, okay. So what’s your backup?” Then I tell them that backups are for chumps, punch them in the face, and ride into the sunset on my hover board, flipping the bird to all and sundry.

Or at least, that’s what happens in my head.

So to begin with, I’m looking at little to no support for my prospective career path from most adults in this world. Totally fine, I can handle that shit. I know that I’ll be making damn near no money when I get out of school, even if I do wrangle a money job or two.

But then, this college thing; it costs money, y’know? Like, an ungodly amount of money. So much money that I can’t even conceive of how some people pay for college upfront. I’ve got a hefty amount of scholarships because I put just enough work in in high school, but I’ve still got (four year total here) tens of thousands in loans both to the government (hey, Big Brother!) and to private assholes like Sallie Mae.

Let’s add that all up then: I’m planning on going into a very competitive, low-paying field (that I have a passion and training for, mind you) when I graduate, after which I’ll need to pay for housing and basic needs (food, mostly) by acquiring one (or two) money jobs, while at the same time paying off my megatons worth of student loans and trying to maintain some semblance of happiness and sanity in my life. Have I mentioned that jobs are hella-difficult to come by when all you’ve done for six years is work as a lifeguard at various pools?

I’ve gotta tell you, friends; it’s kind of a bleak outlook. Living at home is out of the question, my parents are public school teachers, and I’ve got no rich aunts or grandparents, so I’m about as on my own as it gets. Even with a paying job, I’m in the hole ‘til the loans are paid off (and stop accruing a daily interest of almost two dollars), which is unlikely to be anytime prior to my death. AND I actually plan on having a family at some point in my life; how the fuck am I gonna support that?

Guys, gals—people have told us all our lives that to do what you want, to get a good job, you HAVE to go to college. Although that’s painfully untrue, I’ve had a great four years here; I’ve been in shows, I went to New Zealand, and I met my significant other of almost two years (whom I love the most) here.

Now, money against experience, was it worth it?ecard I honestly can’t tell you, because I don’t know how I’m gonna fend out there. On darker nights like this one I find myself cursing the system that tells us we can do anything and then severs all lifelines the moment we reach for them. I find myself despairing that I’ll be homeless and broke in a couple years, unable to support myself, much less anyone else. The shackles of loans weigh heavily, friends, and I haven’t even started paying them off yet.

Older generations speak of us as being greedy; they call Millennials self-centered and the “Me” generation. But I find that, if one simply asks us what we want, the responses are remarkably simple. “I want my own apartment.” “I want to pay off my loans.” “I want a job that I can enjoy.”

On nights like this I can get lost in the fears and the woes and the worries that plague our generation more than any other in our nation’s history. Collective student debt is in the trillions, and unemployment rates and depression among young adults are higher than they’ve ever been.

But there’s something that I tend to overlook on nights like this. I forget that it’s not just me, that we’re all having these struggles to stay afloat. We know who we are. And we have to know that we’re together. So when you find yourself getting angry about all the injustices that we face when we’re literally just trying to survive in corporate capitalist America, call up a friend or two, or twelve. Get angry together.

We’ve all seen the power of people tired of being screwed over who rally to a cause. The system is big and the system is scary, but we can be scary too. And here’s the thing: we’re the ones in the right.

Don’t let the nights like this eat you up, because then they win.

Start something. Who knows what you’ll do.

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Stop Calling Me “Entitled”

by: Kara Mendez

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It seems like the generation that raised us are so desperate to prove we are a problem. We constantly see articles about young people not being educated, being dependent on electronics, or being a generation of hoodlums. Shaming about teen pregnancy or female promiscuity is all over the internet. Shaming young people about being on social media too much or texting too much or not being able to have a conversation because we have too much internet time. Everywhere I look there’s a journalist in his/her 50s telling me that my generation is fucked.

Well, I have a problem with this. I am a woman in her early 20s who attends college, who is an activist, a vegetarian, a reader, a writer, a theatrical professional, and I don’t appreciate anyone telling me that I am the downfall. I go on job interviews all the time- and more often than not, I am offered the job. I am a junior in college and already working in my field. I am a feminist. I am an animal rights activist. I am a functioning member of society. I work two different part-time jobs and I intern part-time. (All in my chosen field, might I add). I have wonderful pets who are more spoiled more than most children. I pay for most of my own things- my parents help with transportation costs, some clothing, and food. So please tell me again that I am a waste to society.

Most people in my age bracket are exactly like me. They are going to school and working extremely hard at their craft. They are most likely receiving help from their parents. However, if you chose to bring a child into this world then you are signing up for all of this. I had no choice about whether I wanted to be born. That was out of my hands. My parents understand that in 2014 you cannot graduate from high school and be okay. You cannot get a job that pays enough to live. You cannot work full time and attend school full time and do all your extracurriculars unless you plan on not sleeping and having a mental breakdown by age 22. Even if you are working full-time, most jobs you get right out of high school are not going to pay you enough to cover tuition. My parents understand that they chose to bring me into this world, so they are going to do all they can to make sure I succeed. There is nothing wrong with receiving any kind of help from your parents.

Okay, so now I’ve proved that I am a hardworking, functioning, important member of society who isn’t mooching off her parents and just getting by. This is where the “social media” dependent argument comes in. Yes, I have a facebook, an instagram, and a twitter. Yes I use them daily. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with tons of old friends and family members who do not live close. It allows me to upload pictures of things I am doing, of my pets, of my boyfriend, etc. and my family members who I haven’t seen in two years can feel connected to my life. It allows me to promote tons of awesome things in my life. My upcoming productions, causes I’m serious about, etc. It allows me to get my opinion out there. It’s my space. Twitter is more for fun, at least for me- and contrary to the popular belief we are allowed to have fun. Finally, instagram is awesome. I have gotten so many food recipes, clothing suggestions, and confidence boosters from instagram. And guess what? I do love uploading pictures of my food. I eat a gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian diet and I love sharing great food with people. It’s not exactly easy to find restaurants that cater to people like me so when I do and it tastes good, you better believe I’m going to share it. Same with food I made myself. I’m proud of what I’ve made and what I’m putting into my body. I am allowed to share that with people.

Finally, cellphones/computers are great inventions. The internet allows me to learn so much more than I ever could without it. In seconds I can know all about theater all over the world. I can find job listings and send out my resume. I can find a restaurant in the area of NY that I will be working in tomorrow. For my last term paper I found a book from 1906 that I never would have found in the public library. I found books that I could only find in museums. I have read so many ebooks that I would never have read without it. Yes, the internet can be used for terrible things. However, terrible things happened before the internet. Terrible things will happen whether the internet exists or not. I love my cellphone. I can quickly text my father and let him know I am safe when I’m working late. If I make a wrong turn, my phone tells me in a matter of seconds where I need to go to get to my destination. If I am hungry, I have apps on my phone that tell me the closest gluten-free/dairy-free safe restaurant. I have an app that tells me when trains come, so I never miss my train or end up waiting at the station for an hour. My cellphone makes me safer. I can call the police if I am trouble. I can let my parents know where I am. I can use my maps application to get me to my destination and assure I never get lost. I can call my mom and talk to her while I’m walking to the train station at midnight in the dark streets of Chelsea. I can feel safer and have access to programs that make me safer.

Making a broad generalized stereotype about my generation, IE: The Entitlement Generation, is the same thing as making a broad generalized stereotype about anything. If I wrote an article about black people being lazy, white people being snobby and rude, asian people being smart, old people being annoying/rude/hard to handle then I would get nothing but hate and bad criticism. So why is it okay for anyone to write an article stereotyping my generation? Especially since you’re the ones who raised us.

Tell me again that I a mooching 20 year old who doesn’t understand the importance of hard work or education and is just glued to an over priced piece of electronic crap. 

I dare you. 

 

Photo Credit: Difei Li via creative commons.