The frustrating and seemingly hopeless act of making a living

words & artwork by Magdalen O’Reilly

Whoever said “money can’t buy happiness” didn’t live during a recession. No, money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy peace of mind. And I don’t know about you, but peace of mind makes me pretty damn happy. At 26, many people my age are unemployed or desperately underemployed. Others are hiding out in school, living off their student loans and waiting for the economy to improve. The idea of the American Dream has become a joke to our generation, as well it should be. Flocks of highly educated youth with nowhere to go, nowhere to work. Waiting for our lives to begin, American Nightmare is more like it.

Many try to sell things online: art, crafts, clothing, anything. Just trying to supplement our income. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that trying to sell things online is quite like pissing into the ocean. No one is going to notice. You’ve got a million people trying to sell macrame crafts they themselves would never buy. And the more people who are trying to sell online, the fewer people can afford it.

On places like I see artists selling their wares for “points”. Useless fake money that can only be redeemed for stuff sold by Selling their work for literally pennies on the dollar. The forums are flooded with job postings. The second someone posts an offer, even as low as 10 dollars, the place is crammed full of artists striving for a job. Any job. They post their portfolios and list off their previous satisfied customers. But all I hear is:

“Help me. I need this. Help me, I need to buy textbooks, I need to pay my power bill, I need to put gas in my car, please, I need this, I need that, please help me.”

And it makes me sad. To think so many of us are raging against mediocrity. Wanting to be more, wanting to recognized for being talented. The American Dream is no longer Suburbia and white picket fences, it’s being able to make living doing something you love. Working a job that doesn’t demean you. And so many of us will fail.

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