They say there's no shame in an honest day's work. I'm trying to take that to heart. I haven't worked in any of the fields I studied for almost two years now. I'm tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a couple degrees that have, so far, contributed nothing to my advancement.
The reality is that I'm far from alone. I work at a coffee shop where at least three other baristas also have their advanced degrees. We're not here because we're lazy; we all work at least two jobs to keep our heads above water. We are, through no fault of our own, chronically underemployed.
"Through no fault of our own." I can say that, over and over, but it sounds hollow every time. I was told that college was the golden ticket. If I studied and worked hard, I'd be guaranteed a fulfilling career. From the time I could speak, I have been asked what I wanted to be "when I grow up." As if to say, after childhood has passed, you are what you do to make money.
Maybe if I had been asked more questions like "what inspires you?" or "what do you want to do to be a better person?" it would be different. I could more easily take solace in the knowledge that I am a good person, or that life is full of fascinating things to fuel my curiosity and zest for life. Why don't we care enough to ask people about what lights up their souls? Why do we begin so many conversations with a question that immediately stifles the spirit? Every time, we're telling each other the same thing: you are defined by your thankless job, how you bring money in, and how much.