A Survival Guide for the 26-35 Age Range in 2011

2011 is fast approaching, and along with it, extended tax cuts, extended jobless benefits, higher unemployment, more poverty, and the slow realization that life will never again be the way your parents might have had it. Here are some tips to get you through all that inevitable existential despair.


Be a freelancer. Because working for yourself is the American/Global Dream. In today’s economy, though, be advised that what freelancing actually means is a) abusing food stamps, unemployment and food banks, b) being a barista, c) accepting the money your parents offer and d) having one (two if you’re lucky) client(s) that result in about 15% of (what you tell others is) your monthly income.

Alternatively, consider the cultural capital of a menial office job (if you can find one). In large part thanks to The Office, Mad Men, and the hipster tendency to celebrate the irony of those antiquated, uncanny phenomena that persevere into our modern age despite their outdated nature, menial office jobs such as file clerk and front desk manager at Enterprise Car Rental are poised to become the next highly desired jobs captured only by the most elite in attitude, fashion and diet (via irony).


With the rising popularity of sites such as Okcupid, Match.com, and regional online-dating services, finding someone that thinks you’re attractive enough to role-play their way through two hours with you (via a date) has not only become easier, it’s become much more awkward. This is perhaps the result of rampant overuse of cliches and misinformation unwittingly provided by members in their online profiles, and abuse of the websites’ messaging systems.

As such, always keep your prescription drug cabinet stocked full stimulants, muscle relaxers, pain killers, mood enhancers, and anxiety medication. With this arsenal of pills, you’re sure to find the right drug cocktail for any first date-from-a-dating-website.


You have two options: settle down and die unsatisfied or reject long-term commitment and die alone. The variance doesn’t really extend past that.

Long-Term Goals

Long-term goals are some of your most powerful weapons in the war against existential despair. Some popular long-term goals include: maintaining a business, climbing a hierarchy, travel, and personal conquests over one’s physical and mental environments. The trick is to forget that your long-term goals are actually meaningless and that their real function is simply to act as a sort of buffer between ‘feeling motivated’ and ‘feeling fucked.’


As the populations of countries continue to grow, Western civilization continues its steady decline, resource wars continue to ravage societies, and oil becomes a scarce commodity, the US economy will follow suit, unraveling in step with the rest of the world.

But there’s hope. Think of resource scarcity and poverty as a bear. A bear chasing the American people. You don’t necessarily need to outrun the bear - you only need to outrun the person next to you. Because the bear’s simply hungry; it doesn’t care who it eats. And the best way to beat poverty is via intense saving and hoarding. So get started before the rest of us do.

Free Time

The Golden Age of radio was long ago, and the Golden Age of TV has only recently passed. Next year TV will continue to decline and will consequently provide much smaller of a receptacle to dump your free time into.

But the internet has stepped in TV’s place recently, and so it's recommended that you buy a laptop with high processing speeds and the “Heavy Duty Internet” that Comcast is currently touting. And while coffee shops do present an asinine expenditure, wasting your unemployed days away on your laptop in coffee shops with other unemploy-ds garners in the least an abstract sense of purpose, which, if caffeinated enough, will provide a somewhat stable foundation for you to continue doing nothing all day, every day, until the coffee begins to tastes like cigarettes, and you realize that you’re actually not getting any work done, and that you've lost your one client two months ago, and that you're simply waiting to die. TC mark


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  • Lorence

    “The trick is to forget that your long-term goals are actually meaningless and that their real function is simply to act as a sort of buffer between ‘feeling motivated’ and ‘feeling fucked.’”

    Goals give us something to work towards and something to live for, which makes them meaningful. There is no inherit meaning or purpose for us, we're just born and have to make sense of it, which is how it probably should be. Imagine if there actually was a meaning or purpose that was clearly defined and testable, we would just get bored with it and wish we had the freedom to create our own meaning.

    Brandon, you are my favorite writer on TC, can you please write a new book? you're style has developed sooo much. I used to think you were just a Tao Lin imitator, now I think you're the awesome.

    • Brandon Gorrell

      that's a really nice thing to say, thank you.

  • happyjoyjoy

    i predict suicide for most of thought catalog's staff in 2011

  • http://popserial.tumblr.com stephen

    jesus… lol

  • http://twitter.com/Erikhaspresence Erik Stinson

    can i online-date my tall can. yes ok.

    this is a picture of me typing this:

    • Brandon Gorrell


  • Edelsolm

    Yeah. This is amazing.

  • Michael I

    This is great. Yes. Good job.

  • http://twitter.com/KelleyHoffman Kelley Hoffman

    bsg = da bomb dot com

  • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

    my plan to cope with the future is to buy a gun and one bullet. also my retirement plan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505759069 Julian Tully Alexander

    This makes me sad/glad I'm not 26

  • http://newhandsweepstakes.com/writings/a-boner-for-like-ever-by-brian-mcelmurry/ Brian McElmurry

    Awesome! I feel less alone/depressed by knowing others feel fucked too. The relationship part was right on, but what about the kid; when women are 26-35 age range, they start wanting kids, sooner than later. And being poor and fucked, but motivated and intelligent, fearing the taking of all your extra time, but wanting to see a beautiful offspring–leads to a deep sense of fear and contradiction and fucked-ness. Poverty sucks. Great article!

  • http://timothypresence.com/ Timothy Willis Sanders

    “The trick is to forget that your long-term goals are actually meaningless and that their real function is simply to act as a sort of buffer between ‘feeling motivated’ and ‘feeling fucked.’”

    nice, thanks brandon

  • TAO

    brandon, what do you live for? what keeps you going?

  • Gerry Rice

    this was really well done. i wish Thought Catalog weren't apolitical so you could be all “wealth condenstation!!!” and “the inexorably growing inequality of wealth that is permanent to the capitalism system must go!!”

    • http://twitter.com/Erikhaspresence Erik Stinson

      brandon is a class-warrior and union hall regular

  • http://www.facebook.com/adamhump Adam Humphreys

    accurate depiction of my experience of freelancing

    feel ABSOLVED

    thank you

  • jordan castro

    just read most of this out loud to mallory

    good job bro

  • ok

    This is really, really good. I look forward to all of your posts on here.

  • Angela_Markham

    I'm totes bandwaggoning here, but I agree with Lorence…you are my favorite TC writer too.

    Thanks for reminding me to keep an arsenal of first-online-date/website drugs on hand.

  • Julian Assange


  • SJ Graham

    i like it.

  • all greek to me

    I don't know who wrote this and so I can't contextualize the “information” being presented. However, w/ that caveat in mind, I just want to say this: Jesus dude, grab yourself an ounce of imagination and find yourself some inspiration in this world. WTF. Do you want everything handed to you on a layer cake with “Your parent's standard of living” written on it in cursive, smurf-blue icing?? Oh, I'm so sorry your life isn't as easy as it was when you were growing up in the suburbs. Maybe you're just not talented, inspired, or crazy enough to FEEL THE NEED TO MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN.

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