This I Believe

Alexander - Vallejo, California
Entered on September 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30


On May 29, 2004, I graduated from City College of San Francisco. I received an Associate of Arts degree, the first one in my immigrant, Filipino family. The next day, I would be entering “the real world”, as my high school and college teachers called life outside of school. I had visions of a good job and a bright future, as you do.

And then, “the real world” hit me. Finding a job was a nightmare. I applied for a myriad of positions: PDX operator, receptionist, personal assistant, etc. I was turned down for each one, mainly because I was either under-qualified or over-qualified. To make matters worse, my home life was morphing into “Groundhog Day”: get up, watch TV, use the computer, do household errands, eat, sleep, and repeat. My family began to resent me. They wondered aloud why, despite my best efforts and my skills, I couldn’t get a job to help with the expenses.

I needed to talk to someone. For a time, I saw a counselor at the hospital. It went on for a few months, at $5 a visit, until my health insurance was cut off and I was saddled with a $1,500 bill. I sought more counseling, but the exorbitant session costs and their collective ignorance of my problems made me question my faith in the medical profession.

I was shocked to learn that when you leave college, your proverbial safety net is taken away. In addition to your degree being useless by itself these days, you’re expected to just suck it up and shut the hell up, If you don’t, you’re considered emblematic of the perceived notions of Generation Y being apathetic, selfish, and inconsiderate. My life was getting worse, and I didn’t know what to do.

I then discovered that my twenty-something angst and confusion had a name: quarter-life crisis. When I heard those words, I felt like Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls. She was sick, and doctors thought that she was insane. Then she learned that she had chronic fatigue syndrome, vindicating her in the process. I soon discovered that I had virtually all of the symptoms: nostalgia for college life, fear of the future, etc. I also learned that people have more sympathy for people with mid-life crises than the younger sufferers. This made me angry. Quarter-life problems are just as valid as mid-life ones, though you don’t see twenty-somethings buy sports cars and run off with secretaries. I can’t even afford both!

I deal with my problems to this day. It is not easy, but the fact that they have a collective name empowers me to no end. I now have hope for the future. I believe that even in the real world, people need compassion and understanding, even when they’re in their twenties and out of college.