The student – self-worth struggle

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetSearching for a job as a student can be tough. It will make you want to pull your hair out and scream. There are some jobs out there but basically, if you don’t want to work in the service sector, a call centre, or hand out flyers on the street, you’re sh-t out of luck.

And this is exactly the position I find myself in.

I’ve worked in a t-shirt store, behind a bar at two different operas, and now I’m working all kinds of jobs that relate to the catering business.
The truth is that while those jobs have been convenient, have supplemented and funded my travels and other activities for the most part, they obviously are not what I truly want to do in my life.

And I’m tired. I’m so tired of having to force myself to be friendly. It’s not that I’m not a nice person per se, you’ll find me smiling a lot, but if someone is rude and condescending towards me I want to have the freedom to defend myself and tell this person off. But no. That’s not possible if you work the jobs I work.

You endure. You endure condescending customers with a false smile that doesn’t reach your eyes. You endure off-handed comments about the youth. You endure stressed and rude bosses that treat you like the exchangeable good and cheap labour that you seem to be.
And you are.

Don’t like your job? Fine, go find another; there are a ton of other students who need a job to pay their bills.

What people do seem to forget is that all these student jobs they look down upon are taken up by people who struggle to balance their studies with the rest of their life. Who try to afford a roof over their heads, clothes on their bodies and a tuition to maybe better their life in the future.

You, my dear people, are talking down to the future doctors and lawyers of this society.

Go see how this will work out for you in 10 to 20 years, when you suffer health problems from all the fatty food and overpriced champagne you’ve had and see who’s going to save your life. Probably that mousy looking girl behind the bar at the opera you yelled at years ago for something she wasn’t even responsible for.

Don’t even get me started on the internships that are available to students. If you’re lucky to score one, you can most probably expect it to be unpaid. Which will mean that you will have to work double: one job to support and feed yourself and another to gain the experience that is apparently required for every job that is out there.
Looking at job ads and all the requirements recently has made me sick to my stomach. I need a job to get experience but these jobs only take people that already have experience. It’s a vicious circle from which I don’t know how to escape.

So go ahead, belittle us. Belittle hardworking people for having hope and making their own luck. Just know that, as much as we want to brush it off, your words do leave an impression, do have some sort of impact and might also do some damage. Self-worth is a fickle thing.

On more than one occasion it has me in doubt if I was qualified or experienced enough for positions. The truth, of course, is that I’m not. But the struggle I’ve mentioned above is not helping that matter.

All these things together have me struggling. They make me doubt myself, question my sense of self-worth. Logic and feelings often don’t coincide and sometimes feeling low and a bit desperate is just something that has to happen to you. I am and it has. And this is why I’m writing these words. I write this to empower myself. To remind me that I am capable. I am worthy. I am good enough.

So go ahead, mock the youth. Mock the students and how they’re living ‘the life’. How they’re lazy and how all they do is party all night and sleep all day. I’m not going to disagree, but I know the truth and I know that there is always more than one side to a story. I do enjoy my life, but I am also one of the luckier ones. I have a family that supports me and a country in which uni fees aren’t too high.

However, I am sick and tired of being treated as cheap labour. Sick and tired of being looked down upon because I stand behind and not in front of a bar. Sick and tired of rude customers and even ruder bosses and large companies with no regard towards their employees.

So go ahead and mock us students. See how that works out for you – to belittle people that are just trying their best to finance their life as well as their studies. Just know that we work hard, and what you deride as ‘young individualism’ is what keeps us going, keeps us motivated.

Here’s to us, the students, and our neverending optimism. Here’s to the hope we carry in us that one day, this all will pay off. Here’s to priorities and sacrifice. Here’s to nights spent studying instead of partying.
Here’s to us. The young and determined ones. The ones that might not know where exactly we’re going or where we’ll end up, but know for sure that there’s a road there that’s worth all the hardships.

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