There's an idea in the general cultural atmosphere which I'm sick of. It goes something like this: if you live with your folks after your early 20s, if you're broke, if you're struggling to find meaningful and / or decently paying work, then there's something wrong with you.
This is a poisonous notion perpetuated by a society that's too cowardly to own up to the ways in which it has failed. I am someone who's deeply invested in the ideal of taking personal responsibility-- but this lie seeks to place responsibility on individuals where it absolutely does not belong.
We're in the middle of an economic collapse because the whole goal of our capitalist system-- infinite growth-- is actually impossible. Our economy is set up to stagnate and fail if it isn't constantly expanding. But we don't really need our economy to grow, we need it to function sustainably. And we don't really need more jobs. We need a way of distributing wealth which doesn't rely on a dysfunctional market.
In other words, we're losers all right-- in a game which was poorly designed to begin with.
I've seen the best minds of my generation shamed, depressed, demeaned-- blaming themselves for being unable to get ahead in this broken game. Growing up we were told that if we just worked hard, got good grades and went to college we'd be able to get a good job and be just fine.
Well, that turned out to be a giant lie-- now many of us-- even those of us who "played by the rules" and majored in theoretically sensible things like business administration and psychology are now saddled with loads of debt and no non-hellish job prospects.
This is not our fault. This is not because we failed. We are not failing. Our institutions, our systems, our whole mode of societal organization is failing. The kind of jobs that we're supposed to hustle for-- corporate gigs, office gigs, aren't exactly conducive to deep human fulfillment, so it's unsurprising that the wind would get knocked out of our hustling sails.
We need to shift our sense of self-worth so that it's not at all based on how we fare in this economy. We need to celebrate one another relentlessly, just as we are, with all our magic that doesn't fit into the boxes of hiring managers. We need to meet up in gift circles and potlucks and be a village.
We don't get to be yuppies any more; whether we like it or not, we get to be villagers: we can't afford fancy dinners and travel and shows all the time-- we have only ourselves for our entertainment and warmth. I love the motto of the Evolver Social Movement, of which I'm a part: "Find the others." Find the other people who are talented and stunning in ways our culture can hardly handle-- find the others who are struggling bravely-- see their gorgeousness which so vastly excels the hardship of their suffering. See their self-doubt, which is your own. Love and cherish them and in so doing love and cherish yourself.
But that'll take awhile. In the meantime... how to make some cash?
Well, lately I'm a big proponent of digital entrepreneurship, i.e., selling downloadable products online. It's what I'm going to be doing in a few months with my eCourse. It's what I think a lot of us suffering and penniless geniuses should be focusing our efforts towards. I've been harassing all my friends about it. "You should be internet famous," I keep saying to the adorable, insanely smart people in my circumference. And why? Because it's true.
Jobs aren't a reliable source of income anymore. We need to dig deep, find what we have to offer, and offer it. Why sell yourself to an employer for an hourly wage? Why not create something out of your own vision which you can then sell-- and gradually free yourself from having your income tied to your time? Why grovel to match some boss' expectations of you when you could very loudly be yourself on the world wide web and attract supporters for it?
These are questions I'm asking myself. I'll probably go on more about this topic in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, if you're interested in digital entrepreneurship as a means of getting on in this world, here are some resources to check out, some inspirational and some informational:
The Middle Finger Project - Ash Ambirge is a fine, sassy lady who offers a great free course in business when you sign up for her mailing list.
The Bootstrapper's Bible -- Seth Godin offers his thoughts about what it takes to do the whole entrepreneur-out-of-thin-air thing-- I still haven't quite forgiven him for the rather odd interpretation of gift economy he offered in Linchpin, but I'm working on it because he's generally useful.
Why You Should Never Get a Job - Steve Pavlina spells it out. I read this article a few years ago and it totally flipped my perspective on the matter.