Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
I am very grateful to say that I do not feel underemployed. My job is full-time, with benefits, and the opportunity to move up. Over-qualification is not the struggle in my work life, but under-compensation is.
As if that wasn’t enough, I have two other jobs on top of the first, yet persistently find myself without. I work
too much to be underemployed, and way too much to be so poor. While, yes, I feel challenged at work and while I refuse to feel anything other than appreciative to just have a job, having to work three jobs and six days a week, just to almost make by, makes it hard to think I am in the right place.
When I try to remember what I would have thought myself to be doing after college, when this was only a mystical future time, I can’t remember what I wanted to be. But I feel good about guessing: living in an apartment, with a good job, but I would have thought then that I’d have a boyfriend by now.
Two out of three is respectable for a child.
What I didn’t see coming was the job paying for the apartment — and almost nothing else. I don’t have three jobs (that I am proud to work) because I am saving money or trying to finance a trip. I usher and sell half-price tickets because that buys me food and (mostly) pays my student loans.
At Emerson College, I got a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies with concentrations in Dramaturgy and Directing, and a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. I started college as a Writing major and was introduced to theatre criticism in a Theatre Appreciation class the college had assigned to my schedule. During college, I got the chance to be a dramaturg, director, actor, producer, board member, RA, and women’s basketball team manager (some of those things are still on my resume). I know more people in the Boston theatre community because I met them during college — in fact, I still work at Emerson.
But it would be exceedingly naïve of me to think that not having gone to college would disqualify me from having any of my current positions. I learned a lot during college and I think I made choices that helped build the foundation for my professional development, but having those experiences and getting these jobs are not mutually inclusive events.
I am not always happy with where I am. There could always be more money, or more free time, or more responsibility, but I am happy that I worked for everything that I have, doing something I love. I do struggle when I am encouraged to find something — anything — that will pay me more, weighing the lifestyle that working in a bank could provide me against the benefits of working in theatre.
What keeps me going is knowing that every time things are tough and I still make it through, I am one step closer to doing what I want and also actually being able to live that way.