I’m turning 24 years old this month. Today I applied for unemployment benefits from the German government. This is a low point of my life; the lowest, hopefully.
I didn’t expect to get here – ever, to be honest. Certainly not right out of school. I had an appointment at the social services agency today and when the guy mentioned food stamps, I thought: this can’t be. I did everything right, I wanted to yell at him. I got good grades. I went abroad and skipped eleventh grade. I finished uni in three years, even though it was hard. I got an amazing internship right after that. There are no flaws here, I wanted to yell. And then my mind spun onward, to things that have less merit than they should: I’ve never done drugs or caused an accident. I am kind to people. All I want is to make enough money to pay my own bills and unburden my family. I am a good person, I wanted to yell. This isn’t fair.
But I don’t know. Something always magically worked out for me before it was too late. And this time it just didn’t. I’ve been spoiled by lucky circumstances and good fortune and kind people, and I never learned how to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and affect – or even care about – my own destiny. I’m lazy by nature. Indecisive and insecure. So aside from having made some poor decisions along the way (taking up student loans instead of working, getting a degree in Holland that is not exactly appreciated in Germany…) – aside from that, it’s mostly my own failure to truly do everything I could have that has brought me here. Yes, The Media is a tricky field to get into. Yes, entry-level positions for Bachelors of Art are few and far between. Yes, it’s normal that the transition from student to full-time employee is a bumpy road. Yes. But I have had a year now to find a real job, and it’s because of how little I have actually committed to it that I’m still unemployed.
Sometimes I feel like it’s never going to be good enough. There’s always going to be someone who’s a better fit for any job; with better grades and more work experience, smarter and more out-going, with whiter teeth and a more creative cover letter. I don’t know how to be that person who outdoes everyone else. I don’t have that ambition within me, and I don’t know how to force it. I lack motivation – still, even at the mention of food stamps and the social worker’s warning that “the State will get seriously involved in my life now that I’ve applied for benefits.”
So hello October. You’ve always been a favorite of mine. Maybe you can be nicer to me than this summer has been. Maybe all your delights can make me be… better than I have been at what I need to do most right now. Maybe next October I can come back to this and smile because it turned out to be just one of those things I thought I could never do, but did.