Musings of a Babby NEET
I have not worked since mid-October 2020; I’m now most of the way through June 2021. Roughly 8ish months of Not being Employed, Educated or Trained.
There’s three distinct reasons why I’m not working right now. One is the pandemic, which doesn’t need much explanation. The second and third fuel each other, and they are severe, long-term mental health issues and the realization that work as a whole is futile.
Because of the things I’ve learned over the years, both about myself and my shithole of a “first world” country, I’m incapable of approaching work in my thirties the way I did in my teens and twenties. In my near two decades of work experience, I can confidently say that having a job doesn’t really benefit you much. I suppose I’ve given up, something that really bothered my (now former) psychologist, but when you’re in my position I don’t know what else you’re supposed to do.
The only work I have ever had access to is work that’s minimum wage or barely higher, no health insurance or other benefits, etc. Yes, even with a college degree. I don’t think I need to get into how no one can afford anything on minimum wage. In order to have something that comes close to a living wage, I’d have to work 2 or 3 jobs, which I have done. But even with putting them in my calendar app and setting reminders, I couldn’t do it. I still constantly came in too late or too early, accidentally went to Job A instead of to Job B, etc. The fact that people consistently work 2+ jobs for months or even years without fucking it up – or getting to a point where they stop fucking up - is unfathomable to me.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I can’t seem to stick with a job for long. My usual limit is a few months, the longest is a couple of years. I always get fired or I get burnt out and quit. Because of the low income and never being able to stay at a job long-term, I don’t have a savings. Anytime I’ve tried, something or multiple things happen and I end up having to spend it. The highest my savings has ever gotten was $2k.
Then there’s the entire ordeal of getting hired… I’m not good at it. College degree, certification, a long (albeit spotty) work history… It doesn’t seem to matter. I suppose I could get even more training but thats not really an option either. Its ridiculous that I’d even have to do that, since I went to college already, which is what was supposed to help me get a good job. A number of years ago, when I was in a better place emotionally, I was able to get a certification that led to me getting the highest paid job I ever had (which, in retrospect, was still very low). And not too long ago I attempted that google IT program, but by that point my mental health was so poor that I couldn’t keep up and I had to drop out. Even if I could keep up with the class and complete it, its still not a guarantee of anything, so I don’t see the point in doing it. I’ve always learned better outside of a classroom setting anyway.
Now, I know that my difficulties with education and employment are a consequence of me being neuroatypical in some way and never receiving a diagnosis or any help. My mental health tanking was one of the reasons I had to quit my last job. For months, I’ve been dealing with depression, self injury, suicide ideation, panic attacks, etc. I was overcome by anxiety from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, being incapable of bathing or brushing my teeth, being exhausted in spite of a full night of sleep. All of these are pretty typical for me, I’ve experienced them most of my life, but they were especially intense over the last year and a lot of this year.
But the antidepressant I’ve been on has been life-changing. I’m still not all the way there, but thanks to it I’ve been calmer and more functional than I’ve ever been. I’m also finally getting psychological testing done very soon, which I’m excited for. Over the years, I’ve spent a long time reflecting on my life and what could possibly be going on and it’ll be a huge relief to finally, officially, have an answer. The two diagnoses I’m betting on are ADHD or ASD, as I feel like I match those the most, but of course I’ll defer to whatever the psychologist thinks.
Getting my issues under control would definitely make me more capable of work. Since I live with family and have fewer expenses now (thanks to selling my vehicle and freeing myself of all the monthly payments associated with owning a car, switching from paid phone service to a free one, etc) I could probably tolerate and get by OK with a part-time job.
In fact, I know I will have to get one eventually, and I have been sending out applications in spite of “giving up” on working. It should be a surprise to no one to read that the job search fucking sucks. Out of all the applications I’ve filled out, I’ve only gotten one interview… over a month ago. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not charismatic, and I don’t have the willpower anymore to pretend like I am. Even when I tried, I was turned down from most jobs, so by this point I don’t see the value in continuing to play a game I was never good at.
I’m also done with filling out multiple applications for the same job. I have my up-to-date resume on Indeed. On more than one occasion, on a job listing tagged “Apply with your Indeed Resume”, I’ve been taken to the company’s site after submitting the Indeed application, where I’m expected to submit a separate PDF of my resume and manually fill out everything again on their separate application. I’m not fucking doing that anymore, not when I know the outcome is going to be “We’ve decided to move on with another applicant”.
You would think that since computers and the internet are decades old, we would have figured out how to streamline this process by now. Wouldn’t it make things easier for both applicant and interviewer if the repetition and tedium were eliminated?
Even if I miraculously had the willpower to get another certification and fill out multiple applications per job, even if I were charismatic enough to dazzle my potential employers to the point where they offer me jobs on the spot… what do I get for it? Minimum wage or barely higher while the CEO and board of directors make millions, and no benefits except for a company savings account I can’t use because they don’t pay me enough to save money.
Another roadblock is the fact that I am overtly, visibly trans and queer. I don’t run around with a trans pride cape on my shoulders and doc johnson hanging out my ass, but I do not and will not pretend to be a cishet like most of my coworkers, supervisors and managers are. I’m tired of toning down my presentation or allowing myself to be misgendered or using the wrong bathroom to spare cis people’s feelings. I’m not gonna get into gender presentation and how it has also affected my employability because it’d make this post even longer, but.. If you know, you know.
Due to all these factors, my conclusion is that, for me, a comfortable income is unlikely to the point of being unobtainable, and I’m not mentally stable enough to keep trying. So what is an unemployable, potentially autistic tran to do?
Well personally, I’ve decided to take the following words to heart:
Specifically, I’ve given up on having a “real job”, a career. Achieving the average American's idea of "comfortable" isn't possible for me, so I'm going to change what comfortable is for me. Working blows, and I am willing to sacrifice modern luxuries and comforts in order to work as little as possible.
I’ve already gotten rid of my car, which has saved me hundreds of dollars a month. I do miss the convenience a little, but when I remember all the monthly expenses associated with owning the damn thing I get over it. If I need to go anywhere I have plenty of options: walking, public transit, carpooling. And soon biking, when I eventually get together the funds to get my mom’s old bike fixed up.
I don’t need a bed either. I’ve been sleeping on the floor ever since I left my ex’s house. When I got a little bit of money from selling my car, I considered getting a pull-out daybed from IKEA, but that would’ve been over $500 for the bed, mattresses, mattress covers, and delivery! I just don’t need all that, and my room is so tiny that even a pull-out bed would look massive. A pile of thick comforters and squishy fleece blankets on the floor does me fine. Though I do plan on getting a shikibuton as the floor is a bit rough on side sleepers.
I’ve also realized that so many other things are unnecessary too. A flip phone instead of a smart phone would work for me because I can count on one hand the amount of people I bother to talk to. Even things like running water I could get by without; gas stations, restaurants, and the sky will just give you water for free! Structuring my life to work as little as possible is absolutely feasible.
I’m not opposed to all work though; just work that drains me mentally/physically and does not improve my life. A fast food job where I make $piss/hr (plus whatever cold food I can grab before it gets thrown out) and have to talk to people and do quick math in a high-stress environment? Fuck no. But growing a garden, or building a home, etc? Absolutely worth it, because that kind of work materially improves my life, for the long-term.
Unfortunately, since we live in a Society, not wanting to work is usually misconstrued as some kind of personality flaw. My former psychologist was definitely hung up on me both being unemployed and not wanting to be employed. I think she was bothered more by that than my self-inflicted bruises and cuts. She was very condescending too, talking to me as though I were a naive child instead of a grown man that has worked his entire adult life. Even if they’re in a position where they should know better, it seems that people just can’t help themselves if you don’t want to “hustle”, “make something of yourself” or “contribute to society”.
She didn’t really have an answer when I asked why I should keep trying when it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Just your typical, ‘Thats life’ non-answer. She conceded that working conditions were bad nowadays, but that didn’t matter, I just had to get a job anyway, because… well, because I just had to. Me not wanting to get a job is a symptom of mental illness which needs to be fixed. A busy person is a happy person right? Otherwise, I must be something even more hated by Americans… lazy.
Whats particularly funny is her specific suggestion. Apparently, even just 10 hours a week manning the counter at 7-11 will be enough to bring me true happiness!
Like I said before though, I will have to get some kind of job in the near future. If I can get past the hiring process that is. There’s gotta be at least one place that will take me... right? My only other option would be getting on disability, should my psychological testing results prove I need it. Applying for and being on disability is an Entire Ordeal, but it might end up being worth it. You don’t get much, but since I have very few expenses now I could make it work, and probably save some of it too.
Of course even if I get my results back and apply for disability the very next day, it’d probably take me an extremely long time (possibly years) to get accepted, so I can’t count on it. Working may be the more accessible option unfortunately. We’ll just have to see how everything plays out. In the meantime, I’ll just keep reducing my expenses, selling my belongings online, hoping one of my stonks becomes profitable, and waiting for my tax refund.