The biggest loser (and not in a good way)

I was chatting with my childhood friend today (she is also unemployed but for different reasons and within a totally different circumstance) and she admitted that her lack of interviews and her general situation made her feel like a loser. And I agreed: that I also feel like a loser most of the time. I’m one of the last people from my graduating class to get a job and in fact 2012 graduates have already started working and I am not (and yes, I know there’s that 6 month block when I was working). And I dunno: I just feel like at this age, I should be more accomplished and so much farther along in every aspect of my life.

They say that Facebook creates depression for people– since people only post all the exciting stuff that they do (and not when they are bored at home, playing with their cat and eating popcorn) which presents a distorted sense of what other people’s lives are like and makes one feel totally socially inadequate. I personally use Facebook as a platform for sharing my thoughts and feelings and random observational humor. I also use it to share the rather asinine things that I have noticed about my parents– much to the delight and enjoyment of my friends. I very rarely share when I am doing fun things (sometimes I offer cryptic clues) because, to be honest (and maybe it’s because I don’t have a raging personal life and/or I have a distorted perception of the raging personal lives my FB friends have) I think it’s a little bit boastful and kind of annoying when people post all the great stuff that they do. Eating a really delicious meal? That’s great– just eat it. I don’t need to see a picture of your creme brulee. Having the best time of your life, proving it online by posting a staged group pic? That’s awesome. I hope you die.

I would argue, however, that equally depressing is looking at people’s LinkedIn profiles– something that I find myself doing a lot these days, trying to figure out other people’s career trajectories in an attempt to jumpstart mine. What makes me the saddest, and also made me sad somewhat when I was at Google, are the PYTs. Yes, I did just make a Michael Jackson reference. PYTs: Pretty Young Things. Those people who managed not to burn out in college, but overachieve through high school and college and then into their careers. Not only were they bright and driven, but opportunities happened to present themselves at the right time and the right place and these PYTs will continue to bloom forever into the future.

I felt this way at Google a lot. I didn’t have the benefit of being swooped up by the beneficent company right out of college. Instead, I graduated in 2001 into a burst tech bubble and had to work and work and work my way up. I think people think that I’m bitter– it’s something that might have been said about me at Google even. I can definitely acknowledge that sometimes I give off this vibe. But I think having worked so hard to get to a place that people just fluttered into on account of having been born at the right time and then watching some people (not all) act totally entitled– it was really tough. Having to listen to employees, 24 years old and two years out of college, complain about not being promoted fast enough and not getting a manager position– honestly, it made me sick.

I read a book recently and I can’t remember the name. But it was something like why some people succeed in the face of doom or something like that. Shoot. Anyhoo, the author talked about how some people take responsibility for their choices (and succeed) while others feel that they are victims to the things that happen in life (and fail).  And so I know, even before reading the book, that I shouldn’t think too much about my stumbles or opportunities that other people got — that I should be focused on making myself ready and attacking opportunities when they do come my way. That I shouldn’t compare my life to other people’s lives and not compare my meager accomplishments to those of super geniuses that I stalk online. But shoot, some people, their lives just seem so effortless — and I KNOW that they’re not and that they had to work really hard. And it’s no one else’s fault but my own that didn’t apply myself in college as much as I should have (and that I should stop beating myself up about that) and that I just need to be focused on myself, on the future, and on finding that intersection between luck and skill.

It’s hard.Why can’t the perfect job drop into my lap?

— DOA

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