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Take Your Passion and Make It Happen: A Way to Overcome The Dismal Economy and Realize Your Dreams

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Yes we can.

Yep. That’s a line from the Obama campaign but I feel that we, the unemployed and underemployed youth, can also use it to motivate ourselves. 

On Wednesday, I said that I was looking forward to yesterday because, for the first time since November 2nd, I will be in a work environment in which I will be doing something that I love.

I was right. I’m going to be a receptionist at the office and I start on Tuesday! Although it’s a volunteer position, I can’t even tell you how much I treasure this opportunity. I remembered why I love politics- because it gives me a chance to help people. I’m sure you all out there have reasons why you love your passions.

Unfortunately, with the way things are, a lot of us aren’t getting the chance to get paid to do what we love- including yours truly. I’ll be dead honest right now- I don’t know many people who graduated with me, regardless of what college they went to, who are working full time within their fields. Because of this, it is SO easy to be:

1. Discouraged

2. Frustrated

3. Depressed

IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE THAT WAY THOUGH. IT’S GOING TO TAKE A LITTLE ELBOW GREASE BUT YES WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS!

My friend, JOC, pointed me to this fabulous blog: Coming of Age in a Crap Economy. It tackles topics from Making the Best of a Shitty Job to How to Love Living at Home. It’s not written by some 45 year old self-help guru who has already made millions…it’s written by an English Literature major who graduated from the Class of 2009 who, from her bio, has yet to receive a full-time job offer. Seriously- check out that girl’s bio…she is my age (23) and has accomplished SO MUCH. Based on what she’s done- I would hire her in a heartbeat! However, just like you, me, and a lot of other people we know…she can’t get a job either.

So where am I going with this? In order to survive unemployment or underemployment…here’s a tip.

GIVE YOURSELF THE FUTURE YOU DESERVE, NOT THE ONE YOU THINK YOU’RE ENTITLED TO.

It’s been well documented that there is a growing sense of entitlement among young people today. I have certainly seen that in my classrooms.

Graduating seniors have this notion that they should be hired because of their creative brilliance. Too many are unhappy with the idea of starting at the bottom.

My advice has always been: “You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.”

No one wants to hear someone say: “I’m not good at sorting mail because this job is beneath me.” No job should be beneath us. And if you can’t (or won’t) sort mail, where is the proof that you can do anything?

-Randy Pausch

I wish I could have had the privilege to take a class with this man. He is truly an inspiration to me, especially now. 

Simply having a degree cannot give you a job these days. Having that awesome internship cannot give you a job these days. Stop thinking because you have a degree in X and that since you have X experience that you are entitled to an awesome job.

If you sit there and whine about how things shouldn’t be this way, that you’ve worked so hard in the past, and that you’re done paying your dues…where is that going to get you? Nowhere. Why? Because you sat there whining! In this economy, throw out the notion that “you paid your dues” and “you’re entitled to a better future.” I’m pretty sure the people who had jobs for 20 years and then got laid off because of budget cuts feel that they also paid their dues and are entitled to a better future. 

Instead work towards the future you deserve. There’s a saying: God helps those who help themselves. If you’re not religious, just substitute “God” for “Life,” and it will mean the same thing. The economy may change. The job market may change. Yet from what I’ve seen- prospective employers always love someone who’s willing to take the initiative. This is your time to be creative and show what you’ve really got.

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

-Randy Pausch

Yes we can.

TAKE YOUR PASSION AND MAKE IT HAPPEN

Yes, that’s a line from the Flashdance theme song. Not going to lie, this is my go-to song when I’m feeling really inspired and when I want things to happen. 

I love telling this story just because it’s an example that in life, anything is possible. I feel really blessed that this happened to me because seriously- when does stuff like this happen? In April and May, I had this wonderful temporary job as a receptionist. The contract ran out though and I found myself unemployed for a second time in 2010. I didn’t let it bring me down, even with a rent check looming and bills to pay, I decided that I was going to create my own destiny. Since I couldn’t find a political job, I signed up to volunteer on a political campaign so I could get some experience in the field. I had the time of my life. I was so excited whenever my friend D asked me if I could help out. Eventually, I did get a non-political office job within the month of June. But I’ll tell you- I always looked forward to clocking out because nothing made me happier than going down to the campaign office and stuffing envelopes or making phone calls. One day while I was volunteering, my friends at the campaign did a wonderful thing for me- they forwarded my resume to campaigns who were hiring. The rest is history.

If it worked before, I’d like to see if it could work again. I decided to make Sullivan County my little Albany. I want to make this something more. Right now, I’m on unemployment and I’ll say this- I’m really thankful for the money I receive because I haven’t asked my parents to take care of my bills. They don’t deserve to take care of my burdens. While I’m on unemployment, I really want to find the job that I’ll be happy with and will give me financial security. When I score another interview, I want to show my prospective employer that I didn’t just sit down and wait for life to happen to me- that I took charge of my life and searched for opportunities within my field…even if they are volunteer positions. I’m going to contact a couple more offices tomorrow to see if I can volunteer there too! My dreams are so precious to me. I’ll do anything to make them happen.

Anyone can do this. It’s honestly as simple as making a phone call. Whether you’re unemployed or underemployed- ask yourself this question: what do you want to do as a career? When you have that figured out, look at your surroundings. Are there any local businesses around that may give you some good experience to jumpstart your career? If there are, ask if you can volunteer! Even if you’re underemployed, you can still see if you can work things out. See if something could fit in with your work schedule. Even if it means working more hours, look at it as an investment in your dreams. You could be one step closer to launching your career!

HOLD FAST TO HOPE

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.

-The Shawshank Redemption

Above all- this is the most important thing. It’s not going to be like this forever. If you feel like having a bad day, by all means, have a bad day. If you feel confused, let yourself be confused. It’s better to let yourself feel these feelings than hold them inside of you. Don’t let them take over your life though. We are still so young. We have our whole lives ahead of us. Let us not be remembered as the forgotten generation. Let us be the Greatest Generation v.2.0. After all, it wasn’t until after The Great Depression that The Greatest Generation  came about. We’re more than what our circumstances are giving us. 

We can do it.

Yes we can.

Say it louder.

Yes we can!

I still can’t hear you!

YES WE CAN!

I will leave you with this song. It always makes me optimistic.

Matt and Kim- Daylight

We cut the legs off of our pants
Threw our shoes into the ocean
Sit back and wave through the daylight
Sit back and wave through the daylight

Slip and slide on subway grates
These shoes are poor mans ice skates
Fall through like change in the daylight
Fall through like change in the daylight

I miss yellow lines in my roads
Some color on monochrome
Maybe I’ll paint them in myself
Maybe I’ll paint them in myself

These sidewalks liquid then stone
Building walls and an old pay phone
It rings like all through the daylight
It rings like all through the daylight

And in the daylight we can hitchhike to Maine
I hope that someday I’ll see without these frames
And in the daylight I don’t pick up my phone
Because in the daylight anywhere feels like home

I have five clocks in my life
And only one has the time right
I’ll just unplug it for today
I’ll just unplug it for today

Open hydrant rolled down windows
This car might make a good old boat
And float down grand street in daylight
And float down grand street in daylight

And with just half of a sunburn
New yellow lines that I earned
Step back and here comes the night time
Step back and here comes the night time

And in the daylight we can hitchhike to Maine
I hope that someday I’ll see without these frames
And in the daylight I don’t pick up my phone
Because in the daylight anywhere feels like home

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Author: Alex

Hello! My name is Alex but you can call me Alexandra if you're feeling fancy. Here you'll find my adventures about exploring my new city of Hoboken, NJ, scurrying over the Hudson River to NYC, my bicycle excursions, and how I'm learning to embrace in medias res.

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