If you think feudalism is dead, think again. Student loans have turned young adults into 21st century peasants, enslaved to the banks and institutions to whom they owe their money. For every discontented peasant out in the field, another seed for a revolution is planted.
Those fiefs may hold the fifties, but the baron is dead and the lords are next. Here’s how to tell if you are a part of the overqualified and underemployed student movement. If this list describes you, snag a scythe and join the club.
1. Your calendar is meticulously organized yet embarrassingly empty. Your “appointments” are with the dentist, the apprentice hair dresser (professional haircuts are too steep), families in need of a babysitter, and dog walking agencies.
2. You go on an exorbitant amount of coffee dates. This is mostly because coffee is cheaper than food. The opaque cup allows you to smile with the air of a Cuban cortado instead of a humble house blend. Coffee dates also help fill up your agenda. When your roommates ask where you’re headed, you say, “I’m off to a meeting at 10.” As if you have more important things to do than YouTube yoga and watching lectures online to keep your mind sharp.
3. You are interviewing for a minimum wage job and your interviewer asks you “So, how many languages do you speak? Four? Bueno.”
4. You invent a vague-sounding position for yourself on LinkedIn/Careerbuilder/Facebook because keeping up appearances is more important to you than telling the truth. Gotta have ID to get ID, nawhaddamean?
5. When you tell people what you studied in school, they shift uncomfortably like they’re about to let out a lethal fart. It’s all you can do not to mention your recent personal trainer certification for fear of scaring away “the commoners.”
6. “You’re so smart. I’m sure you’ll find a job soon.” This is the refrain to the chorus of your life, and everyone seems to have gotten the soundtrack in their inbox before they even met you.
7. When people pass you their business cards, it’s more out of politeness than anything else. You use these rectangular slices of hope as placeholders in your various philosophy books. (You keep self-help books on your Kindle to save face.)
8. You had to delete some of your internships from your resume to make everything fit on one page. You figure people won’t notice that the margins are .25 inches (that’s .635 centimeters, which isn’t so bad, really.)
9. In exchange for someone teaching you how to make a sandwich at work, you teach your trainer how to use their knuckles to tell how many days are in each month (the knuckle months have 31 days, the rest have only 30).
10. You read, study, or do brain teasers during your work breaks, declining all offers of heroin and jalapeño poppers from customers and coworkers alike.
11. You DIY everything not just to be thrifty, but to keep your hands and mind occupied. “Super-fun and easy DIY Christmas crafting with the kids?” In the middle of June ? Perfect. Please pass the glitter glue.
12. Your diploma sits at the bottom of a drawer, untouched by human hands yet dented from your sack of quarters.
13. A family friend offers to put out a full-page ad for you in their local paper with the headline: “Young, eager graduate seeks full-time, intellectually stimulating work.”
14. You apply for a mission trip in the hopes that when you get back from AndalusAfriStralia, the economy will be more suited to your ambitions.
15. The first question people ask after you tell them about your work experience is, “How old are you?”
16. The next question they ask is, “Do you or does anybody you know work for the CIA?”
17. You use the term “financial obligations” to describe anything ranging from student loans, to credit card debt, to reasons why you can’t add an egg to your burger for just 79 cents.
18. You wear a suit and tie or skirt and heels when running errands, just in case.
19. You Google “internships with Anthony Bourdain” on the regular because it would be a shame to let your creative canned food concoctions go to waste without evolving into haute cuisine. What was once a fried black bean and egg mashup could one day be an over-easy oven baked potage, if only those Food Network folk would give you the time of day.
20. You’re considering filing for bankruptcy and moving to either Austin or Portland to join a co-op where you can grow your cilantro and mint in an encouraging environment while searching for part-time work at a place that will provide some form of insurance. Because, let’s face it: 401Ks are overrated and totally DIYable.