Ask Amy: College grad wonders when real life will start

April 21, 2013 

Dear Amy: I am a 24-year-old college graduate living in my parents' basement.

I never have a day off because I work seven days a week - weekdays as an unpaid intern and weekends at a minimum wage job. I'm ambitious with a clear head on my shoulders, but entry-level jobs in my field seem to have disappeared. Since graduating two years ago, I've applied for 140 jobs.

I feel overworked, underpaid, overeducated, in debt with student loans and stuck.

It's as if I'll never have my own place and be a real person. The tunnel seems long and dark, without any light at the end.

I'm wondering how long it took you to launch into full-fledged adulthood and if there's any hope that one day I'll reach it.

MILLENNIAL GENERATION

Dear Millennial: I graduated from college into a tough economy and with no clear direction. The difference between then and now is that companies did not expect college graduates to provide unpaid labor; internships were opportunities during college, not after.

I worked in a bicycle shop, in an art gallery, taking tickets at a movie theater and as a lounge singer at night. I never lived at home post-college, but I rented a small room in a group house. It took me three years to get my first "professional" job.

If you are completely confident your internship will yield opportunities, then by all means keep at it. But you are applying for jobs right and left, which tells me your internship might not be the answer. My advice would be to reverse your current balance and work more at your paying job and less at the internship - and continue to look for entry-level jobs in your field.

You are already a "real person." And this is real life. You will succeed.

Dear Amy: Your letter from "Conflicted" really hit home. A friend and I have seen each other for a week at a time at a summer program for the past 12 years. We are both married and in our 50s, and we have been with our spouses forever. Two years ago, we disclosed our strong feelings for each other, after keeping them private for about nine years. Last year the relationship turned sexual.

Neither of us wants a divorce. We don't want to hurt our spouses, but we would both rather be married to each other than our spouses. All year long we secretly email and talk on the phone.

Once we both exposed our feelings for each other, the relationship skyrocketed in intensity. I mention this because Conflicted was considering talking to her supervisor about her crush on him.

I know we're both living a lie, and I've considered counseling, but I'm not sure what that would accomplish. We both know we should put our feelings for each other "on the shelf" and be true to our spouses, but there is no way we can stop thinking about each other.

What is your take on this situation?

REALLY CONFLICTED

Dear Really: Seeing a counselor would force you to explore not only what you are doing - but why. And then you might need to change. No wonder you don't want it.

You don't seem to want things to be different. I think some people do have a high threshold for living a double life. There are definitely cases where people carry on long-term affairs while balancing separate domestic lives, but this is neither honest nor authentic. So I think you should ask yourself, "At the end of my life, how do I want to look back on my choices?" You should do your best to pass through this life maximizing your happiness while minimizing your harm to others.

Maybe this current balance does that, but I don't think so - and I don't think you think so, either.

Dear Amy: I loved your snappy answer to "Unsure," who was seriously wondering if she should ask her housemate about bags full of garbage he was hoarding in the basement of the house they shared.

Sometimes you must laugh out loud when these questions come in!

FAN

Dear Fan: When I'm not crying, I'm usually laughing. Thank you.

askamy@tribune.com

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service