(4:30 a.m.)I force myself out of bed to catch a ride with my mother to work. Since rent is becoming cheaper in the suburbs in this globalized world, we commute to New Orleans.
(5:00 a.m. to 7 a.m.)Once in the city, I drift off to sleep for two hours until my alarm wakes me in a fright. “I can’t miss my bus,” I repeat to myself, as motivation to not drift back into my dreams. I’m twenty-one years old, but looking for bus fare is a new experience for me.
(7 a.m. to 9 a.m.) Though I grew up here when I was younger, the city and street names are still unfamiliar to me. The people, also, are unfamiliar to me, so I keep my guard up, headphones in—but bus drivers and streetcar operators welcome me with conversations. I take my buds out of my ears and my eyes out of my cell. That woman looks familiar. Does she always catch this route with me?
(9 a.m. to 10 a.m.) Sitting in a cliché coffee shop, I join in with the other customers typing away at their laptops. “Am I doing something wrong?” I think when I find no job confirmations in my email. To cheer myself up, I order my usual favorite: a buttery, flaky breakfast croissant with a cup of (free) ice-cold water. I fumble around for my debit card. I remember the card is at my home and, embarrassed, have to cancel my croissant, mid-warming. Hungry, I exit into the heat with my free ice water and head for the office of my summer internship.
(10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)I had always been aware of the bemoans of Millennials: not being able to find well-paying jobs; college debts that might never get paid off; homes that won’t be bought, but rented at the average price of around more than $1,000 a month (unless you find a roommate for a two bedroom, which could “possibly” drop to $600 a month per person). Yet with all these difficulties, I was optimistic. There was a little voice in the back of my head whispering, “I’m the exception.” I pause Simon Sinek’s YouTubevideo “Millennials in the Workplace” and check my next writing assignment.
(3 p.m. to 5 p.m.)The bus is packed with tired brown faces. I blend in again. I wonder, “What am I doing with my life? Am I even getting anywhere?” Maybe you’ve felt like me? You’ve graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts degree (an expensive certificate verifying that you’re capable of higher-paying professional positions), yet you’re having random moments of anxiety about your future. “What was the point of going to college if all I end up making is $10 an hour?” I think while riding the bus back to my aunt’s home.
(5 p.m. to 6 p.m.) I’m in the passenger's seat of my mother’s car when I begin rethinking the finals days of college. “What’s next?” is a recurring question. “Focusing on our production company, Girls in Color!” I reply with confidence. “Go straight into graduate school and get your Masters. Do it while you’re young and without responsibilities,” I was told by regretful working mothers in their 30s and 40s. On the radio, a woman reports that black and Latino women have the highest amount of college debt in America.
(6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) I’m home, but all my tired body wants to do is eat dinner and watch Netflix. My mother reminds me that it’s nothing compared to how many years and miles she walked. Though I understand, I’m not in the mood. K-dramas are calling my name. My business partner and best friend is also calling me. We console each other about the day.
(9 p.m. to 11 p.m.) It takes me a while to fall asleep. “I have to be doing something,” I think, afraid to waste my first out-of-college summer by being unproductive. “I’m an adult now.” Yet all that was on my mind two months ago was freedom. Freedom that comes from having completed the milestone of college. Freedom to spend my days reading books I hadn’t had the time to focus on. Freedom to travel, to spend a year in Asia or go to France to relive my study abroad miracle. As my mind fades away, dreaming of the past, I can’t help but be reminded of the word “patience” (primarily from Sinek’s speech).
(4:30 a.m.)A new day. I force myself up to experience it. I make sure to pick up my debit card and a book of short stories from the pile on the side of my bed. There’s still so much I have to learn.