zero dollars
October 2, 2013 8:57 PM   Subscribe

I have no money in my bank account and zero income. I have 29 days to come up with $800. What do I do?

I'm a failure at age 25. I have failed at my career, I have no other skills, no prospects anywhere else, and no one cares enough about me to hire me. I just have to face this. Unfortunately, you can't just be a failure. Even if you are a failure, the world still expects money out of you. And right now, if I don't come up with $800 by October 31, I will no longer be able to pay rent. I have put this off as long as I possibly can. have no money in my bank account and no job prospects. None of my clients answer my emails anymore. I need $750 for rent, and I can try to live on $50 for the month. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do this, and I'm terrified.

Points:

* I have reached out to everybody in my field that I can think of, but they don't even answer my emails, and obviously they don't tell you why.

* My roommate is not flexible at all in regards to rent. I'll actually be lucky if she doesn't sue me or something if I don't pay.

* There is almost zero chance I can get myself into any job in the near future, let alone any good job. I had a job interview the other day for something but I didn't get it. They sent me a very nice email but that is worthless to me because it does not make a dent in the $800. In fact, it makes the opposite of a dent in the $800 because I had to pay for transportation to the job interview.

* I have signed up with every temp agency I can think of, both in my field and otherwise, but no one has even so much as emailed me back, let alone called me in for an interview. Everything's online now, and when I call them they just direct me to the online submission form.

* I do not have the experience to do anything but office work. I have literally zero experience anywhere else.

* My mother can't afford $800. I have not spoken to my father in five years for very good reasons I would prefer not to go into here, and if that's my last option that's my last option but it would make my life a living hell.

* I'm female and not the physical type to be hired for day labor.

* I have no possessions that people want to buy, and especially not any that make any appreciable dent in the $800. I listed everything half-saleable on Craigslist already and got no emails.

* I would prefer not to do sex work, and I don't have the looks for it, but again, if that is my only option, that is my only option.

* Please keep any talk about therapy or otherwise out of this, because that will increase the $800. It is counterproductive. You will be wasting your time.
posted by dekathelon to Work & Money (115 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you live in a large enough city, you could probably panhandle for it. $30 a day is a lot, but doable.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:02 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sign up for taskrabbit.com. Underbid people to get a few reviews and state "1/2 off my usual rate until I build up 5 reviews." Take any job on taskrabbit you can possibly take.
posted by samthemander at 9:02 PM on October 2, 2013 [42 favorites]


How are you at editing papers and basic research? I can normally pick up editing work by advertising on Craigslist. You can charge by hour or by page, and have a different rate for resumes.
posted by spunweb at 9:03 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


You need to look into some sort of government social assistance. Find out what's available in your area. You may be eligible for unemployment insurance. Don't be too proud to take benefits, as this kind of situation is exactly what they are for, to help you keep a roof over your head and food in your stomach until you can get on your feet again.
posted by orange swan at 9:03 PM on October 2, 2013 [51 favorites]


You're in a shitty bind, but you're not a failure. Is there any way you can just move out and find a cheaper place? Give a friend $200 to stay on a couch for a month?
posted by BlueHorse at 9:07 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Start applying to work at restaurants (even better if you have serving/bartending experience). If you get hired and start right away, full time, you can make the money. Bonus: a lot of restaurants give staff meals.

Also: you are not a failure. Plenty of people don't have their shit together by your age, plenty of people live at home, are unemployed, have debt, etc. Failure or success is defined by how you handle adversity. Don't give up -- you can find a way.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:08 PM on October 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


Temp agency STAT, a big one like Manpower or what have you. Sometimes I have gone in and had a two-week, three-week office gig by the end of the day.

Plasma donation; probably can't rack up the full 800 but it used to pay enough to pay off some of my bills...

Check the gigs section on CL for petsitting, babysitting, typing, anything.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:13 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Second social assistance. Also look into Catholic charities. There may be religious strings attached but sometimes they provide direct monetary assistance. I think the strings might be worth it.

Not knowing what town you are in, there may be other religious/nongovernmental assistance programs, but social assistance and temporary relief via religious orgs may be the easiest, most immediate way to go.

Don't wait to apply for federal/state assistance. Sometimes the process can take a few weeks. Do it now, if online. Do it tomorrow, if in person.

Good luck.
posted by ArgyleGargoyle at 9:14 PM on October 2, 2013


Oh! And uh, not me, but...a friend.. suggests if you actually have zero dollars in the bank, close that account so no random "service charges" turn up and overdraft you.

banks are evil
posted by like_a_friend at 9:14 PM on October 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


In most circumstances you cannot be evicted for being one day late with the rent, and it doesn't really matter if your roommate sues you if you don't own anything, etc.

If you're youngish, yes, apply everywhere that possibly employs young people. Then--well, this isn't necessarily the most ethical thing, but lie your head off. You don't have a graduate degree, etc. Make up some reason for your lack of recent employment experience. Places are stupid about hiring people with an education, but anywhere that stupid does not deserve to know details about your private life and it's just temporary anyway.

In a pinch, find a local place to donate plasma.

Make sure you have applied for food stamps and whatever other aid is available.

Call local churches. Ask about job opportunities, whether they know about places you can get food, etc. Ask if they know anybody who could use help with yard work or whatever, for that matter--you're just looking right now to get as much cash in your pocket as possible.

But, to be honest, I have a problematic relationship with my own parents that's led to estrangement from my own dad for years now, but if I were in such a position, I would have no compunctions whatsoever about contacting him. My mother was abusive for years and is not much better now, but hell, yeah, I'll take money from her, you know? You don't have to keep taking their calls later just because you did this. But that's only a suggestion, mind.
posted by Sequence at 9:15 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Your mom might not have $800, but she might have a way to get her hands on $800 (or even part thereof) to lend you, if you tell her it's either that or sex work.

Babysitting! Advertise on every free place possible.

Dog-walking.

House-cleaning.

It depends hugely on where you live, but I could make a pretty good chunk of money babysitting and cleaning around where I live.
posted by Salamander at 9:15 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do you know 10 people who could afford to loan you $80 each? 20 people who could loan you $40?

If Craigslisting isn't flying, what about having a yard sale/stoop sale?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:16 PM on October 2, 2013


Oh, also: you're not a failure.

I would have been on the streets several times in my adult life, if I didn't have a family that was willing and able to subsidize me. I'm not proud of that, and you shouldn't be ashamed that you don't have a safety net that some of us just lucked into.
posted by Salamander at 9:19 PM on October 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


It would really help these questions about work that you keep asking if you would let us know what your field is. It would also help if you told us your skills so we could help you think of ways to use them in other jobs.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:20 PM on October 2, 2013 [31 favorites]


If you are still short and the end of the month is approaching, talk to your landlord and negotiate. Evicting someone is an enormous hassle and if you have been reliable up until now they may be willing to work out some kind of payment plan to give you a chance to catch up.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:24 PM on October 2, 2013


In the meantime, tutoring has a high $/time ratio, and there are a lot of teenagers that need help with their college admissions essays.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:28 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even if your mother can't loan you the money, could she let you stay with her temporarily while you keep looking for a job?
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:28 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a call center that will hire you tomorrow. Trust me on this.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 9:28 PM on October 2, 2013 [25 favorites]


How about retail? Similar to office work (phones, computers, organizing products), so you'd be qualified enough. If you're still in NYC, take a couple of hours to walk down 5th Ave from Central Park to Union Sq and fill out applications at all the stores that are hiring.

Register at Sittercity to be a babysitter.
posted by xo at 9:30 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


http://www.reddit.com/r/beermoney is a good resource for finding opportunities to make small amounts of money here and there online. You probably won't find enough work quickly enough to make the entire $800 by your deadline but almost everything you find there will be something you can do from home at any hour so it could be a good supplement to whatever else you pursue.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:31 PM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was just in this exact situation. Like 2 weeks ago. Even now, to be honest, I'm not out of the danger zone yet.

Here is my advice to you:

Get a shitty day job. Something in a store, a coffee shop, a restaurant.

You're in New York and it's the time of year when everyone is hiring seasonal help for the holidays. Jump on that. I got a seasonal job at Tiffany's (yeah, Tiffany's), when I was 19, with only a summer gig at a small town video store on my resume. You can do this. You may have to lower your standards, and you may have to take a substantial pay cut. But $150/week is better than $0/week. Groceries and a metrocard and money to pay the electric bill next week is better than nothing.

In the immediate short term? Sell stuff. Start by culling your clothes and books. Anything you can sell to Beacon's Closet or The Strand will do. Most people with bookshelves and closets can make a quick $100 or so by doing this, though it will involve some schlepping.

Resume advice for getting that shitty day job: sit down and come up with EVERY shitty service job you have ever had. Even stuff from high school or college. Even if it wasn't your primary source of income (college work study gigs totally count). Even volunteer work. Did you shelve books at the library? Put it down. Did you work one day a week as a restaurant host? Put that down. A stint volunteering at Housing Works? Put it down.

For food service, another possibility is to lie. Find one or two restaurants from back home which are now closed -- Yelp is great for this, google "TOWN restaurant closed yelp" -- and put them down as if you worked there part-time a zillion years ago. When you interview and you're asked about these positions, talk about it in very humble terms. "Oh, it wasn't really a bartending job per se, I just served brunch on weekends and made a lot of champagne cocktails..." Pick places that are not huge corporate chains and not fine dining. The kind of place where you could have stumbled through six months of part time shifts, then quit and forgot everything in the intervening years. If home is somewhere kind of podunky, they'll probably think you were poorly trained, anyway.
posted by Sara C. at 9:33 PM on October 2, 2013 [32 favorites]


Also, under the "Etc." section of jobs on Craigslist, there are a lot of focus groups that pay $50-$100 to come in and get interviewed.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:38 PM on October 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm a failure at age 25. I have failed at my career

Can't really help you with anything else, but at 24, I was unemployed after having been fired as a grocery store clerk and living at home. Within a couple of years I had a full time salary job and now I'm making quite a bit more money than my parents did. So whatever other problems you have, your life isn't over, just because you're unemployed in your 20s. It happens to millions of people.
posted by empath at 9:41 PM on October 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


Also, re the failure thing.

I'm just going to lay this out there, because it is WAY WORSE than what you're dealing with right now.

I'm 32 years old and just completely failed out of the career I've had since college. I moved to a new city assuming my years of experience would translate directly into a comparable job. That wasn't the case, and I have been underemployed for the last year. I spent a while floating between freelance jobs but after a minor crisis (the type that would have been no big deal back when I had an actual job that paid all my bills) ended up at rock bottom, not only with nothing but deep in hock to my parents and some close friends. I am now a 32 year old first time barista. In the suburbs. I have been literally told that if I have time to lean, I have time to clean within the past week. I ask people if they want that for here or to go multiple times per day. And I put up with this for a third of what my previous day rate was at my old office job.

So trust me, you are NOT a failure.
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 PM on October 2, 2013 [44 favorites]


You are not a failure. You are not a failure. If you end up on the street, you are still not a failure.

There are good suggestions here. My vote is food service because you can frequently take home leftovers.

As a last resort, have you considered phone sex? You don't have to look like anything and you work from home.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find it hard to believe there aren't minimum wage jobs available all over the place, maybe even beyond minimum if you are willing to work odd hours.

Get out of your own head. You don't need a career; you need money. Do any work you can find. Look everywhere that isn't office work.
posted by gjc at 9:49 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


If it's possible to stay at your mother's place until you can get back on your feet again, I would suggest doing that. I don't know whether you have the kind of relationship with her where she would be okay with that, but in my opinion, it would be kinda stupid to let pride get in the way of things if you have that option available.
posted by cosmicbeast at 9:52 PM on October 2, 2013


Also, Dekathalon, you need therapy to deal with your depression. You getting the $800 for this month is like using a bucket to bail out a sinking ship instead of patching the giant hole in the side of it that is letting all the water in. There are many resources in New York available for you to get help. YOU JUST NEED TO MAKE THE CALL.

You should also apply for welfare, food stamps and housing assistance and any other services available.

None of us want to see you come back with another question like this next month or the month after. There's nothing we can tell you that is going to fix your life for you. You need to get into therapy.
posted by empath at 9:56 PM on October 2, 2013 [56 favorites]


Also, how's your credit? Have you applied for credit cards recently? Putting $800 on a cash advance is not the worst decision you could make right now, especially if you can look for yet cheaper rent (or move in w/ your mom).
posted by en forme de poire at 9:59 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Have you tried calling 311 to learn more about the social services you likely are capable of receiving?
posted by oceanjesse at 10:03 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seconding plasma and /r/beermoney. You could MTurk like a maniac and maybe make it in a month.

Tis the season for holiday temp jobs, too - you could try just walking into a Halloween store and asking for a job.
posted by codswallop at 10:12 PM on October 2, 2013


Have you asked anyone to look over your resume for possible improvements?
posted by oceanjesse at 10:12 PM on October 2, 2013


If you decide to do Mechanical Turk, check out the subreddit for ones worth doing and the other subreddit for ones worth avoiding.
posted by hellojed at 10:15 PM on October 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


You should definitely try out taskrabbit. There are tons of people who need to hire someone to do random odd jobs. I was at a party in SF and we needed hookah charcoal so we hired a taskrabbit. I think the price was like $25, and it probably took an hour for the task. My boss hired someone to help her move something she bought on Craigslist.

Since you're in NYC, there are probably several other opportunities for part-time jobs with some of these startups like taskrabbit - Exec is one that hires cleaning people, Lyft for driving, etc. They're basically marketplaces to connect people who need work done with people willing to do the work. For most there is a pretty low barrier to entry.
posted by radioamy at 10:19 PM on October 2, 2013


The Halloween stores will be staffed up.

You want to hit retail and food service that'll be serving holiday shoppers. Go to midtown and walk into every Gap, Crate & Barrel, etc. until you've filled out a dozen applications. Every single store. Even if it's a place that doesn't fit your interests or the pigeonhole of where you think you belong. Niketown. Anthropologie. Forever 21. Williams-Sonoma. Kate's Paperie. The Container Store. Hit every store until you've done 12 applications for places that are currently hiring.

Every day that you go out to pound the pavement, check Craigslist to see if there are any food service places in that area that are hiring. Drop off resumes and make plans to be there during job fairs or open calls if they have them.

Keep doing this until you start getting calls for interviews. And not an interview, interviews plural. Schedule as many as you can, and just keep showing up and trying your hardest until you get a job.

At a certain level, it's a numbers game. Apply to 30 places and 5 will probably interview you. Five interviews will likely result in a job. Maybe the numbers are better or worse than that. But if you keep applying, you will eventually find something. This is the one month of the year where almost every service industry position in the entire city is hiring and they can't be too picky about who they take (seasonal positions also make it easier). Make the most of it.
posted by Sara C. at 10:24 PM on October 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


You're 25, you've had a legitimate job in the past, and you're educated. For retail and food jobs- just lie about your experience. I can't believe I'm saying this, but just lie. Do what Sara C. said- make up a few closed restaurants and say you worked there. It'll be fine long enough to make you $800.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:50 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Comment deleted. OP, not every answer will work for you. Ignore what won't work, consider what might, and don't scold/lecture people trying to help.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:53 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


As far as government assistance, even if we had an operational government right now (uh, guys? has everyone just forgotten about that?)

State governments are not shut down, so far as any of the Internet can tell me. Try again.

I am not eligible. What I was told is that if you have any work AT ALL then you are ineligible for unemployment.

Well according to your very own OP, you have NO WORK AT ALL, so again, sounds like you're very (unfortunately?) not yet out of options.

As for food stamps if I got those I would be written up in a Salon article about hipsters.

1) This is made-up and absurd 2) if it weren't it would still be a shitty reason not to do it.

At any rate it has been long enough after I lost my job - over a year now - that it is probably too late for any of this.

Factually untrue.

There. All of your excuses are dead in the water, so I guess you have no choice but to go and make your life better. :) If it helps you can say MeFi made you do it.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:54 PM on October 2, 2013 [25 favorites]


Setting aside the shutdown - which hopefully won't continue for 29 more days - why are you assuming that you are not eligible for government aid? Did a social worker tell you that after discussing your situation in detail? If that isn't what happened, please research the various programs available, either online, by calling the city info line, or by going in person to the appropriate office. And if you don't have enough money for food, it's completely appropriate to apply for food stamps - "Salon makes fun of hipsters" is really not a good reason to starve.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:55 PM on October 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Your answer seems angry and quite rude, to be honest.

Look, I get it. At age 25 I lost my job in the only career I had known. I know your situation and I know how you feel, but you're making it worse with your attitude. I know it sucks. I know you feel your situation is unfair. I felt mine was. I know it was unfair, in fact. Years later I am still a little upset about it. But I acted the same way you're acting now, and I did myself no favors. Until I woke up and changed my outlook and approach, my situation didn't improve.

You are making your situation worse by being overly dramatic and by not using resources that are available to you. Frankly, every excuse you've given about why you won't use X or Y resource suggested in these answers is bullshit. For example, use the safety net: being "written up in a Salon article about hipsters" is not a legitimate reason not to file for SNAP or TAFNF or whatever unemployment programs are out there.

Your situation will not improve until you face it head-on more rationally, and until you are ready to take advantage of those resources without being too proud to do so.

Until then, you are in no position to bitch at people for not answering your question in the exact way you want it answered. You'll be ok.. face your situation head on and keep fighting, and it will get better, I promise!
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:56 PM on October 2, 2013 [24 favorites]


One more voice to chime in that in desperate times (living with parents after graduating with no job prospects), starbucks was not only willing to hire me without any food service experience, they gave me health care after 3 months.

I have worked a lot of crazy weird jobs that do not require previous experience. These were: housecleaning (both private houses and at a hotel), canvassing (working for greenpeace and asking strangers for money on the street), working at starbucks and retail. They were all horrible, terrible jobs, but they were jobs and I was happy to be earning money.

I also want to throw out there that I was recently unemployed and found work after applying to over 150 jobs in about 4 months and only landing 11 interviews total. Sometimes you need to apply to way more than you originally think. If you are still in NYC, my suggestion would be to seek out every. single. starbucks in the city and drop off a resume. A job is a job.
posted by ruhroh at 10:58 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Every single grocery store and Starbucks I've been in lately has been hiring.
posted by erst at 10:58 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Guys, please refresh the page; the comment was deleted. This needs not to be a fight between the OP and people answering.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:59 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


For earning freelance money online, there is also Elance and Textbroker, which I don't think have been mentioned yet. You could also collect recyclables for money. Find where your local redemption center is that pays cash for cans and bottles. You won't make $800 this way but you could make, say, $50-$100 this month if you get your act together. A few bucks here, a few bucks there and pretty soon you are talking real money.

Apply for foodstamps. In California, if you have under $100, they fast track your application. You might be able to apply online. You can in California. As others have suggested, call foodbanks, call Catholic Charities, etc.
posted by Michele in California at 11:04 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aside from Craig's list, if you ok with kids and can pass a background check register with a babysitting/Nanny/housestaff agency. Decent pay and room included could really take the pressure off fairly quickly. This could work within a few months, esp if you don't mind moving to a major urban city.

You are SO not a failure.
posted by jrobin276 at 11:17 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


What kind of jobs have you been applying to? My 20s were spent as a barista, a busboy, working in a cafe, stocking auto parts, boxing up kits, a whole bunch of random crappy shit that nonetheless got the job done. If you absolutely need a job, unless you are in an extremely rural area you can always find places looking for hardworking minimum wage workers. Especially in NYC. Target, Walmart, coffee shops, fast food chains, housecleaning, stuff that isn't sexy or fun but pays the bills. Have you looked for these types of jobs? Like, if you show up and look professional then generally places will be thrilled to hire you.

Also: if you are already dismissing therapy in your question then maybe that should be a good indication to you that it's something you should be addressing. I know in previous questions people have offered to hook you up with low-cost or free services. If you are unemployed then maybe part of your time could be spent looking into those.
posted by schroedinger at 11:20 PM on October 2, 2013


You are depressed and it is seriously warping your ability to objectively asses your own situation. Unemployed and depressed isn't a great place to be. I have been there. Your OP reads like a template from a CBT workbook demonstrating negative thought patterns: all-or-nothing thinking, discounting the positive, catastrophizing, negative labeling, mindreading...it's all there.

There have been some good suggestions so far. Making 800 dollars by the end of the month is doable - especially for previously employed 25 year olds. I've met immigrants here in LA who barely speak english and manage to make that in a month AND send money home to their families in Mexico.

It's not going to be "a career" and it's not going to be meaningful and you are certainly not going to like it...but a combination of any of the things mentioned here would work to scrap up 800 bucks...the problem is that is very hard for a depressed person.

I think you've really internalized an unhealthy picture of what a "career" is supposed to be and also what someone who is not "a failure" is supposed to be. You're fine and you'll get through this. Life isn't a TV show - you don't need to check all the boxes and 'do things right.'
posted by jnnla at 11:21 PM on October 2, 2013 [24 favorites]


Re childcare in general, this is somewhere else where thinking outside the box in terms of a resume/past experience is worthwhile.

Did you ever take care of younger siblings or cousins, even unpaid? You have babysitting experience.

Same for dog walking. Did your family have a dog, and did you ever walk it? You have dog walking experience.

One thing I realized when applying to service industry jobs over the last year is that experience is experience. Due to having an office job for most of the last seven years, my relevant service industry experience is almost nonexistent. But I volunteered at Housing Works. I helped a friend with her greenmarket booth a few times. I've been a pet-sitter and walked dogs and done a little childcare here and there. I've staffed events, tended bar at parties, and made lattes on the office espresso machine. I've designed friends' wedding invitations. So I decided to make all that kind of stuff work for me, rather than throwing my hands up and saying "I have no experience in anything!" Eventually it paid off, even though I felt like a dope in a few job interviews.

Here I'm not advocating lying (save that for food service jobs). But think of the ways you've picked up skills over the years. Unless you live in a vacuum and never do anything, ever, chances are you know how to do some stuff. You certainly have a better chance of knowing how to make change, clean a toilet, or open a beer than your average 16 year old does.
posted by Sara C. at 11:25 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just memailed you. My offer is open for the next two weeks -- please get in touch whenever you're ready.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:47 PM on October 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


I totally Nth lying about experience to get a menial job. Also, don't overload your CV with irrelevant experience that will make you look too qualified. A little too qualified is fine, but if it's too qualified, tell em your studying or something.

Do not underrate how many incompetent, clueless people work close-to-minimum wage jobs. Seriously. These industries - especially hospitality which generally requires a fastish pace - chew through staff like you wouldn't believe. And so many of staff - even the ones with experience - are breath-takingly incompetent. I guarantee you, regardless of whichever low-paying job you end up with up, irrespective of your experience you will not be the worst person they've had doing that job.

Pavement pounding is horrible, I empathise with you, I truly do. I was a bit younger than you when I had to acknowledge that my "dream" career as a freelance writer/journalist sucked - and that I sucked at doing it. I organised myself a minimum wage job shortly after this realisation, and stopped freelancing and was so much happier.

You've got an awesome list of actions from dozens of people that care about you and have more experience than you at being broke and desperate. I really, really hope that you'll execute at least three of the suggestions here. Best of luck,
posted by smoke at 1:30 AM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


First, be glad this happened when you're 25 because in the future you can explain every bizarre job you take right now as "student jobs" and people really don't hold that against you--so forget about the negatives.

Get your head in the game and the game is collecting enough pieces of jobs to put together the money that will pay your rent and the expenses of applying for a real job and food to supplement whatever food you can scrounge from everywhere you can. (I'd imagine an extra continental breakfast or even lunch is available to a young woman in business attire in hundreds if not thousands of meeting venues every day. The applying-for-jobs is your work right now and the pieces of jobs are the gigs that support your real work so get started on a production line. (My own projection was 100 apps produces five interviews, ten interviews produces one job, but I was twice your age and it took more than 200 apps.) Work the system for benefits and graze among all possible gigs all the time--do it better than you ever thought you could. Collect tips from everybody about how to promote a few bucks here and a few bucks there and follow up on them. Make it a goal to get efficient at it.

Use every ounce of energy, every resource, and all your imagination and play this game against the clock and against your fears. See what your personal best is when the chips are down and you'll earn the satisfaction of proving to yourself you can figure this shit out and survive. This is your marathon, your Everest, your Cuba to Key West swim. Go for it, and see what you can do. This might be the most important thing you ever learn. There's no better source of confidence or weapon against fear than knowing you faced something this bleak and worked your way through it.

My very best wishes to you. I want you to have that experience of getting through this. You're invited to memail me any time and I think some others have said the same thingl Good hunting! Try to enjoy the trip; I promise you'll find funny, terrifying, and delightful things going on all around you if you pay attention. If you write at all, keep a journal--it will also help you guard against falling into self-pity.
posted by Anitanola at 2:03 AM on October 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


This seems to be counter to what other people are saying, but it sounds to me like you need a little time out. Is there a reason you couldn't move in with your mother for a few months? While you get yourself together, and work out a plan about what you want to do next. Desperately selling your possessions and working menial job may not improve your self esteem, and while it might feel like a step back, relying on family is not a mark of shame. Many of us have to do it at some point, especially in a harsh economy. The way you write your question implies to me that there is nothing in particular tying you to your particular location, so maybe its time to have a month or two off so you can fairly assess yourself.

25 is still pretty young. If we assume that you've been working since you're 18, thats still only 7 years. It might be hard work, but you can turn yourself around. Just don't give up on yourself.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:28 AM on October 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


You're in New York, yes? If that's still the case, I can virtually guarantee you that Green Mountain Energy is hiring. (You know the folks who stand in front of storefronts and at farmer's markets and badger you about switching to renewable energy? Those folks.) You'll be able to get into training fast, they take pretty much everyone, the training period is paid, and the turnover is ridiculously high, so no one will judge you if you find something better and skip out after a few weeks. I don't know how much the commission in in New York (I worked in another state), but even just a few sales will help. While Green Mointain's business model is...not great, it's true that their energy prices are as advertised and don't change after an "introductory period" or some such bullshit. You may be mildly annoying people, but you won't be an outright scammer.

It's draining work, not gonna lie. People will be rude to you, or walk past you like you don't exist, or prattle on at you about their renewable energy conspiracy theories. But the upside is, you can spin it to make it sound fancy and professional, and it can make you impervious to a certain kind of rejection. After a Green Mountain stint, a temp agency that had barely been interested in me before saw that I had sales experience (cleverly spun to sound more impressive than it was, of course), and got me the (short term) gig I have now. I do a lot of cold calling for the current gig. I used to loathe cold calling; now it's still not what I want to do for the rest of my life, but people's rudeness barely bothers me now that I don't have to see it.

Look for the listing for "part-time field sales representative" or similar on greenmountain.com, or if New York is like my city they'll be all over the sales section of craigslist. Memail me if you have questions.
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:45 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


All good advice here but, not knowing your parent's situation, moving back in with your mom and sleeping on her couch is not failure either. It's a hard goddamn world, and people need each-other in order to survive. If you're seriously considering sex work (don't) how is that any less shameful than moving home? It doesn't have to be "giving up," it could be a tactical retreat. Not that you have to do it, but its not a death sentence any more than being unemployed is.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:12 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've gotten some good advice here. I want to zero in on something in your original post...

From what you've written, you've been doing everything with email. Which is well and good but no one - I mean almost no one - uses email as a straight medium in hiring for real, actual career-type jobs with a future.

Your emails may be getting spam-trapped - think about how much junk Gmail filters out that you don't even see, and consider how much spam is job-related. You gotta get through all of that, and email isn't the ice-breaking blunt instrument that you need right now. You gotta sell above and beyond.

Make phone calls. You have access to a computer at least so you could use any number of free services online to make calls. Don't know if you have friends whose phones you could borrow as well.

I only call out this particular item because it is not unique. I have counseled a number of people your age in similar job straits. And they were shocked when they found that using the phone to follow up on job prospects as opposed to blindly emailing (along with a dose of good attitude and manners on said phone call) worked wonders.

Good luck. I really hope things work out for you.
posted by Thistledown at 5:17 AM on October 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


You sound so depressed and isolated, and this must be incredibly stressful for you. But you have to deal with this situation. The rent requirement is going to hit Nov. 1, and again on Dec. 1, etc. I recommend hitting the streets to find a job, or bailing out and going to live with your Mom or someone else. You are unlikely to get a job without going from coffee shop to retail store to copy place to fast food joint, etc. Literally go out every day and fill out applications at as many places as possible. Find the soup kitchens that offer free meals, and make sure you eat, because you need the energy.

If your depression is so severe that you can't do this, and it may be, then you have to consider different options, like getting someone to take you to the Emergency Room, and/or applying for disability, and/or asking Mom to take you in.

This situation sucks. The economy is only doing okay, jobs are still very tight, and lots of people are wildly underemployed. I'm sorry life is so rotten for you right now.
posted by theora55 at 5:20 AM on October 3, 2013


Move heaven and earth to find someone to take over your lease before the end of the month. Move back in with your mother or other family who will be able to feed you and give you a place to sleep while you find a job. Your only failure in this situation was waiting so long to take action. You must have known your finances were dwindling before everything came to a head like this.

Plan B: go to college in the spring. Take out student loans and use the money to live on campus. This might only delay the crash and burn, but it might also get you better job prospects and contacts.
posted by Rach3l at 5:44 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of good suggestions up here on places to look, but part of it is also how you look. The question mentions that colleagues don't return emails, and the temp agencies don't return emails, and some other internet things don't return emails.

People don't reply to emails. Who have you called? Whose door have you physically beaten down? If you are just an email, you are easy to ignore. Especially look at the previous temping threads on AskMe and a lot of them say be there physically, every morning, resume in hand, ask what you can do that day. Call them every day after that, first thing in the morning.

Stop emailing people and get out of the house.
posted by whatzit at 5:53 AM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


You could probably do phone sex right now. I did it, the money is not great (like you would think) but it's a job and one you can do pretty easily. I met some very nice girls doing this. And we'd play board games and do our nails between calls.

You're not a failure, this happens to everyone at some point. I have been so broke I can't pay attention, it's a temporary situation. It'll pass.

I can give you advice on how to eat on $50 for the month.

Kroger is the best for marking down stuff before throwing it away. To this day, I still look for the day-glo orange stickers on shit. They also have a rack for marked down bread. A shelf for dented cans and a shelf for toiletries.

Scavenge coffee places and diners for Sunday papers. Get the coupons. If your market doubles, you may find that you can use a coupon in conjunction with a loss-leader and pay ZERO for things like soup and Yakisoba noodles.

1. Buy the dented, day old bread. I can get a loaf of bread at Kroger for .30. Buy a few loaves when you see it, store the extra in the freezer. Toast it.

2. Peanut butter.

3. Chicken hind-quarters. The thigh and the leg. Usually about .59 per pound.

4. Ziti. I used to make a pan of this and eat off of it for many meals. Ground turkey (or whatever is cheap,) cheese and a block of frozen spinach, jar sauce or homemade. You can get 6-8 meals out of this and it's loaded with veggies.

5. Hot Dogs. You can get the store brand for about .99.

6. Corn Flakes, the cheapest cereal in the store.

7. Milk, if you can get one about to expire marked down, bonus!

8. Cafe Bustelo. I can get it for $2.50 on sale. Makes a STRONG cup of coffee and tastes good.

9. Ramen

10. Beans, legumes.

Pick up packets of salt, pepper, sugar, ketchup, etc from fast food places. You may even scam some cream thingies.

Hang in there, all you need is a job. Once you have one, you'll be on your way. Don't discount fast food, retail, call centers, etc. It's not optimal, but I took a job at MCI, 30 hours a week thinking, "this will do until something better comes up" and I has a 25 year career in telecom.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:57 AM on October 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


There is almost zero chance I can get myself into any job in the near future
This is NYC; there is almost zero chance that you wouldn't be able to find a job by the weekend, if you pound the pavement today. You need to get your butt into these business and put in an application. Halloween popups, retail, starbucks, the guys that hand out bus tour tickets, etc. Walk out of your apartment, turn right (or left, your choice!) and stop in every single business and ask to put in an application. Hostess positions require no experience, just a pleasant face (my friend was hired as a hostess at a 3-michelin-star restaurant in the city with literally zero restaurant/retail experience). Show up at every hostess open call today and tomorrow (glancing at Craigslist there are at least 5). Doesn't matter what the posting says the qualifications are, just apply apply apply.

$7.25/hr * X hrs is still more than $0/hr. Take a ton of exemptions on your W-4 and IT-2104 so that you don't have taxes withheld (ss/medicare still withheld regardless). It's about $6.70 after SS/medicare which means about 120 hours to get you to $800. This is only 30 hrs per week. Totally do-able.

My roommate is not flexible at all in regards to rent. I'll actually be lucky if she doesn't sue me or something if I don't pay
Is your name on the lease? If not, then too bad for your roommate. Is it a dick move? Yes, but oh well, thems the brakes. If yes, then still, whatevs. Evicting a tenant for nonpayment is nearly impossible in NYC. In any case, as long as you show up to court (usually another 30+ days after the missed payment) with a check for the missed rent, you're good. If you still don't have the money by the court date, try NYC HRA's One-Shot Deal (one time rental arrears payment benefit). Regardless, if you have no money, you're judgment proof, so let the roommate sue, you can't get blood from a stone.

Nthing the recommendation for mental health care. If you really feel as if the world is crashing down, call 1-800-LIFENET and/or check yourself into a hospital. Seriously.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:21 AM on October 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Note that if you pay no rent at all, it will still take 3 months to get evicted in NYC.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:36 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've read every AskMe you've ever posted. You and I have talked several times. And I think I've gotten a sense of what's up with you. And here's what I think:

I think you should pack up and go home and live with your mom until you figure out what you want to do next. I know you don't want to do that, that you want to find a new career and new friends and make it work in NY. But you've been utterly miserable for as long as you've been posting on AskMe. When you talked about your friends or your job or your life, you were miserable. And it's affecting your health, long-term, because the stress and depression are causing you to believe that it can't possibly ever get better.

You should call your mother and tell her that you need her help. Tell her that you're broke, but more importantly, that you need some time and space to get your mental health sorted out. Under NYC law, there's really very little your roommate can do to you that wouldn't be way more expensive for her than just finding a subletter as fast as possible, and if she's smart, that's what she'll do. Pack up whatever you can fit in a couple of suitcases, offer your roommate her pick of everything else, and then put the rest on Craigslist or on the curb. Then, get on the bus, and go home. Tell your roommate that you weren't going to be able to make rent this month anyway, and that you know you're leaving her in the lurch, but you need to get out of town, and you're sorry.

I realize that this feels like failure. And you absolutely could get a job in food service or retail and scrape away for month or years if you wanted to stay in the city. But that's not going to make you happy. You haven't been happy in years. And I think that you need a change of scenery and a supportive, stable place to live, and to get away from the utterly toxic situation you've been in where you are now. You need to get out of there. Call your mom.
posted by decathecting at 6:43 AM on October 3, 2013 [105 favorites]


If you live in NYC there ARE security jobs available. Guarantee it. You won't qualify for all of them, and the hours are long and often not-fun, but its surprisingly steady work filled with stunningly over-qualified people. (Seriously, I work with engineers, scientists, 25+ year high paying career veterans, and so on... guarding doors at college basketball games)

I think I work for a good security agency, but I had no experience, a major gap in my career history, and they basically asked 'are you going to show up on time, and not do drugs right before or during your shift?' Also, I find it surprisingly confidence building to do a simple job very well.

http://www.indeed.com/q-Security-Guard-l-New-York-jobs.html
http://newyork.craigslist.org/sec/ (from the 10-second google)

Chase bank, every time I came in and said I was under-employed said 'WE HAVE CALL CENTER JOBS!!! oh dear lord we NEED PEOPLE!!!' it was... kinda creepy, but they offer money and a lot of hours. :)

I know people who got fast jobs as urine drug screen collectors. Far from glamorous, but it was less demeaning than sex work.

Uh, on that topic I also know people who worked in the sex industry.. not prostitution but in some of the BDSM clubs, and they said it was weird, weird weird at first, but not as bad as it could be. And I'm kindarambling now.

You are not a failure. Your first job choice is not working right now. This is ok. It happens. You can consolidate your position, add some stuff to your resume, and try again. Or find something you love more.

We keep mentioning mental health care because it has helped us. Or people we know. I don't know your experience with it, but I know it can be a long, painful process to even find a doctor you work well with/can afford. BUT, I and many others think it is ENTIRELY WORTH IT. When I was depressed/close to broke/unemployed, I know I saw no point. But it helped. I'm not where I want to be at 32, but I was able to get help when I needed it. A bunch of little pushes from everyone who cared (and there was always, always more people who cared than I ever thought) finally got me rolling. Do what you need to do. Take care of yourself. Love yourself. You are worth good things. Sometimes we have to hit bottom before we can start climbing back up. You can do this.
posted by Jacen at 6:50 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I call my depression the "Yeah, but..." disease. This is because when I get depressed, any help, any solution, any idea anyone has gets met with a "Yeah, but..." response. Viz:

"It's OK, Rock Steady, you'll find a job soon."
"Yeah, but then we are going to have to pay for child care, and I'll barely be earning more than that is going to cost."

"You should try to sell your art, Rock Steady."
"Yeah, but then I'd have to buy a lot of supplies, and I can't afford that."

"Whatever else happens, Rock Steady, you have a great family that love you."
"Yeah, but they will probably end up hating me because I am a miserable failure."

The more I hear myself say "Yeah, but...", the more I know I need to get some mental health treatment. I know this isn't a direct answer to your question, but your questions in general have sooooo many "Yeah, but..."s in them (buttslol) that I just want you to think about that as you work through your current situation and ask yourself if there isn't maybe something that can be done about these mental roadblocks you keep putting up in front of yourself. I know, I know: "Yeah, but I can't afford therapy." "Yeah, but what is therapy even going to do for me?" "Yeah, but I'm not depressed, everything objectively sucks right now." I have literally said all those things. And for me (may not be the same for you), it's not like I needed years and years of 3 visits a week therapy. Even at my worst, when my father was diagnosed with endstage pancreatic cancer and I was convinced -- convinced I tell you -- that I had it as well, just a couple of sessions of talking with a kind, non-judgemental person and listening to their professional opinion made a world of difference. Good luck.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:05 AM on October 3, 2013 [75 favorites]


Money doesn't make you a success and being broke doesn't make you a failure. Anyway, you don't have time for abstract thinking like that right now.

-- Apply for SNAP, etc. Let them reject you, you don't have to pre-reject yourself for them.

-- Sell everything you can. That includes your blood/plasma and old clothes.

-- Put up tutoring fliers. You can try to get hired at a company, too, but the money can be a little slow in coming so it might not be worth the time commitment right now. Clients can just write you a check on the spot.

-- In all the shitty places I've worked, coffeshops gave away the most food (tons -- all the stuff that had its expiration date that day) and cared the least about experience.

-- Most restaurants hire hosts with no experience, usually for minimum wage. The good thing about hosting as opposed to retail is that you usually get a free meal/shift and there are plenty of shifts. Some places also tip out, so you leave with at least some cash in hand.

-- Also: restaurants are notorious for not checking references and server/food runner/busser jobs are the only ones I know of that give you cash in hand as soon as you end training (no waiting 2-4 weeks for the first paycheck) and pay enough to actually get you the $800 *in hand* by Nov. 1. Pounding the pavement still works for mom-and-pop places, but they actually do read their online apps, too (how I've gotten hired in the past). Not condoning lying about experience, just saying it works.

-- I got through the most desperate financial situation I've ever been in because a friend gave me a "job" gophering for his sister for maybe 10 hours or so. Tell all your (good) friends about the situation and ask if they can think of any way for you to make money. Maybe they'll come up with some help. If they have blue-collar/random/side jobs themselves, maybe they can even get you in the door at their company.

I would advise against sex work -- strip clubs, etc, aren't the kind of places you want to walk into when you're extremely vulnerable, broke and depressed. You could be setting yourself up for a much worse situation than you're already in.

If in 3 weeks you really can't make the 800, pay what you can, sublet your room to get the rest, and couch surf or stay at your mom's and while you ride out your moving notice. But I wouldn't abandon the apartment or your life to stay with your mom if at all possible because that might just exacerbate things. Being broke is really hard on a person mentally and emotionally and maybe you don't need dealing with your mother on top of that, you know? Depending on your relationship, of course.
posted by rue72 at 7:16 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oof I feel you. It is a really awful time to be unemployed.

For the short term:
-If you have a good relationship with your mother, call her. Tell her you are completely broke, that you have no way to pay your rent or buy food, and that you do not want to turn to sex work. See if she'll let you stay for a while. If she can, stay there until you get a job that pays enough for an apartment with money to spare for healthcare, food, and a little for savings. If that doesn't work, call any relative you know who has some stable footing in life, tell them the same, and see if you can stay with them until you get back on your feet.

-Take up These Birds of a Feather's offer

-Eat cheaply. Pasta, rice and beans.

-Look for nanny jobs to hold you over until you can find something more stable. Some nanny jobs are live in and will cover your room and food.

-Nth'ing food service with an emphasis on bartending. You can make a huge amount in tips when bartending and you don't need to go to a bartending school. If you get into a food service job that also has a bar, you may get to train for free.

-Apply for unemployment in the state where your last job was. Unemployment offices are still open during the lapse in government funding. Don't rule yourself out for that until you try. The reason it's there is to help people when they need it most. It sounds like you could use it. Usually requirements are along the lines of how many hours per week your last job was, and whether you are actively looking for work.

-Apply for SNAP, same deal as unemployment.

For the long run:
-Reach out to everyone you know. Not just people in your field. Let as many people as possible know you are looking for a job. Make sure your apartmentmate is also doing the same for you. Some one may eventually have a lead.

-If you did decently on your SATs, apply for work with SAT prep courses.

-Consider therapy if you can find a low income clinic that works with your schedule. I'm not going to jump to any conclusion that you have depression. At the same time, today's job application process makes it really easy to feel crummy about life. Sometimes a new perspective can give you tools to handle some of the stress and keep your eye on the prize.
posted by donut_princess at 7:30 AM on October 3, 2013


Hey!

I was you, at age 27. My rent was $800 in Williamsburg, BK, and my freelance gigs dried up pretty much overnight. A week later, I had zero dollars.

I literally walked across the street to the first crappy diner I saw, and it had a "now hiring" sign in the window.

I got the job. It paid almost nothing. Like, $50 - $60 a day. And the owner was kind of shafting us on the server wage we were supposed to get. But the cash tips were under the table, which is sketchy, but hey.

But you know what? I made a little over $1000 in the three weeks after I realized I had zero dollars. I made rent, and had $200 left over to eat slightly better than ramen, and even have a few beers with friends.

So here's what you do. Write up a quick resume in a Word doc. Email it to a UPS store. Go pick it up.

Then walk around with them. Today. Go to Williamsburg. Don't go to the hipster cool restaurants, like DuMont, Rye, or Brooklyn Star—those are more competitive positions. Go the the "lamer" ones, like Willburg Cafe or Connecticut Muffins.

You'll make it. Just go outside.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:34 AM on October 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


When you listed items for sale on craigslist, did you use their forwarding service? Because that tends to eat all of my incoming emails. Try again, putting your email in the actual ad.

Please listen to decathecting, though. Times like these are what family is made for.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:39 AM on October 3, 2013


There are lots of great ideas in this thread. To add one thing,

I have no possessions that people want to buy
My mother can't afford $800


This sounds like your mom would help you if she could. Does she possibly have anything she could sell for you? Once when I was in a similar state of no career/can't work/totally broke*, my mom sold a bracelet she never wore anymore, which I would eventually have inherited and never worn, and I lived off that for almost a year. Sometimes older people have stuff that's worth money (string of pearls, fancy end table) even if they don't actually have/make a lot of money themselves.

*p.s. I was older than 25.

------

On a more general sort of note, I feel like with questions like this where people shoot down suggestions, as I gather you did in a response that was deleted) they have some answer in mind already. Usually I think this about dating questions, but a lot of yours on other topics have the same "I'll do anything but I can't do a,b,c, x,y,or z" quality to them. So what do you think? What are you expecting/hoping we will say, that you'd mark as best answer? You're obviously not stupid so you probably don't imagine someone here has a magical instant job-creating solution that you just haven't thought of yet...so if it's not "apply everywhere, be persistent with the temp agencies, look into gov't aid/charity, move home/elsewhere" or anything else here, what do you want other people to tell you? That, if you can think of it, is probably the answer.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:46 AM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I kind of fucked up my life when I was 24-25, and my parents were there to help me out and always let me stay with them. Around that time one of my cousins offered to let me crash at his place for an extended period of time for me to recover. My parents also helped me out with money when I was in a bind, which I undertand is not an option for you, but the point is that the thought of "bailing our child out when things have gone wrong" has always been there. My brother tried to make something work halfway across the world until his mental health issues got in the way (when he was older than 25), and my parents let him have an extended "time out" at home where he got to make himself feel useful by fixing stuff up around the house. It's okay. That's what family is for. And your family has been through all of this themselves and can walk you through it.

25 is barely getting started. Most people your age haven't even done enough stuff to fail at in the first place.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 8:00 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have signed up with every temp agency I can think of, both in my field and otherwise, but no one has even so much as emailed me back, let alone called me in for an interview. Everything's online now, and when I call them they just direct me to the online submission form.

I have had MUCH better luck with temp agencies by calling them. It kind of sucks to get up early, but if you call through the list of agencies you've signed up with around 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning you're a lot more likely to get a gig. They'll usually give you a short one-day gig at first just to see if you are a real person who can show up.
posted by forkisbetter at 8:07 AM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


forkisbetter: I have had MUCH better luck with temp agencies by calling them.

In general, you are going to have about 200% more success getting casual/informal/entry-level jobs with phone calls over email, and about 500% more success with showing up in person, relatively well-dressed and groomed.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:24 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


A, um, very close friend didn't know what she was doing with her life at 22, got fired from a shitty admin job when she was 23, and thought she'd celebrate getting fired by taking around 23 random pills with a few glasses of wine. She lived and is doing great now. You will, too. Just please skip the part with the pills.

I haven't read all of the answers but I read a lot of them and I didn't see any that mentioned that there is an election coming up. Call the political parties and see if you can make phone calls, hand out brochures, knock on doors. Call the board of elections to see what kind of help they need ahead of election day. Volunteer to be a poll worker. It says volunteer but you get paid and not terribly. Plus you're doing something that should make you feel proud of yourself.
posted by kat518 at 8:27 AM on October 3, 2013


I worked for Crossmark and they started you at $11 an hour (with work 20-25 hours a week ramping up for the holiday season). Their new york jobs are here. Please look at all pages as there are several in Brooklyn.

Try to get ANY job, then get a second job and be more picky about it. I work a draining office job (whihc might be eliminated by the end of the year=() and as my second job I work at a chill, cool, hipsterish ice cream store so it's not a drag to work so much. I don't know what the aftermarket for clothes and books is like in NYC, but in my experience, where my clothes are usually Kohl's quality and never better it's not cost effective to sell them because more money could be made directly working or looking for work than organizing and selling clothes. Same with books - unless the book would sell for over $10, it usually end up not netting much once you factor in the packaging, and trip to the post office to ship it.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:31 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mod note: dekathelon we're not going to do the thing where you post questions and then argue with everyone's advice. Take what you need, follow up with people privately if you need to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:43 AM on October 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Dekathelon, nothing is as hopeless as it seems. Why are you so intent on rejecting everybody's heartfelt and sound advice? Do you want us to tell you that yes, you are a failure, that you have no options? FFS, you are only 25! Plenty of people flounder in their 20s, myself included.

If you spent half as much time checking out people suggestions as you did finding reasons they couldn't possibly work, you might have a job in a week's time.

If you want to take a service-oriented desk job that doesn't care about prior experience, I'll send you the info for my former employer. They even offer health insurance!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:50 AM on October 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Be 100% sure your resume is current, as flattering as possible, and lists your CURRENT AND ACCURATE contact info. Drop it off lots, and then follow up by calling and telling them you are interested. Basically, when people sort resumes, they either go into a 'look into this person' or 'toss it in the drawer with the others' slot. You can easily bump yourself into the 'look at me' pile with persistence.

If you need resume help, a ton of people will be glad to help.

Look on your city's website for jobs, too.
posted by Jacen at 9:08 AM on October 3, 2013


If you are a nonsmoker with no health issues, no history of serious health issues,who hasn't taken medications of any kind in the past 30 days (a year is better, better still is to just say "never"), and are not pregnant or on birth control, do not use recreational drugs and haven't in the last 30-60 days, you can prrobably get into a clinical research study. If you don't meet all these criteria, you can a) find a study targeted at people who have one of those deal-breakers (like a study for smokers, or for drug users), or b) lie. They'll usually only test for: pregnancy, blood alcohol levels, recreational drug use, and some basic blood tests like you'd have at a yearly checkup. Memail me if you want more information.

You say you're not of the build to do labour. Survival is more important. There are lots of women who are small and lots of labour or warehouse jobs that you can handle for a month. There are lots of factory or warehouse jobs that don't require heavy lifting- for example, I worked at a clothing warehouse doing QA, sorting and packing. Dull, but not too physical. Just look for ads that don't have lifting requirements above what you can handle.

There's tons of unskilled jobs out there: cleaning/housekeeping, customer service/waitress/cashier, telemarketing/market research surveys, grocery stores/corner stores, retail, inbound customer service, assembly line, picking & packing if the lifting requirements are ok, meat packing plant/ kill floor. Tons. You just have to be willing to do it and able to make that willingness come across in the interview. And willing to take on 2 or even 3 jobs if that's what's neccessary. And you HAVE to become willing to do it, because we're talking survival here. Remember: it's temporary.

There's also charity & welfare.

One more thing: find out the eviction laws in your area. Even if you don't pay rent, you probably can't get evicted right away. And make a plan for if you do get evicted. If you can't live with family, you can't stay with friends, and you're out on the streets- well, if that happens, you will survive and get through it, because you must. And I've lived on the streets, so I'll give you as much information on how to survive it and escape it as I possibly can. Believe it or not, it's not the end of the world, the end of your life, or the worst thing that can happen.

Now, there are a couple less ethical ways to get your hands on some money, but there are also consequenses. Memail me if you want to know things that people have done in the past for fast cash.


As for being a failure: that doesn't matter. Stop thinking about it, stop wallowing in it. Right now, you need to be narrow-minded. The only thing that matters is survival. It doesn't matter if you are a failure, a looser, if your life sucks. That doesn't matter and you can't waste energy thinking about it. Where is your next dollar coming from? That is all that you can afford to care about right now.
posted by windykites at 9:11 AM on October 3, 2013


Donate your eggs, if possible. It's a painful process and you may have to think about what your genetic make-up means to you in terms of profit, but it pays well, sometimes upwards of thousands of dollars if your eggs are accepted. What's more, "Most fertility programs offer payment to egg donors for their time, effort and discomfort. It is not payment for the eggs themselves and should not depend on the outcome." Someone else here can fill in the gaps if they haven't already suggested it. Check programs in your state.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:12 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know the mods deleted your response, but since you absolutely insist on concrete, specific links to jobs that need no experience, here is the one I was talking about:

http://www.greenmountain.com/about-us/careers/current-openings/832-part-time-field-sales-agent

(Sorry, on phone so no nice link)

I can tell you from my own experience that my co-workers ran the gamut from college kids at their first-ever jobs to older folks who lost other jobs in the recession, with every possible financial situation in between. Pay no attention to the listed requirements on the web site, all you need is a pulse. (Also, keep in mind that you can ignore requirements on lots of other jobs too.)

That said, I'm wondering if your requirement for absolutely specific links isn't a kind of smokescreen. You come to mefi with a question, me and lots of other people give you ideas for jobs that are readily findable with a little googling/calling around/hitting the pavement, and you snarl at us and say "no, be more specific." I had a very similar need for absolutely specific job suggestions when I was at the height of the unemployment/depression double whammy. Looking back now that I'm medicated, I realize that asking for specifics was a way of deflecting other people's good will, much like you're doing here. If people couldn't think of any perfect jobs for me that meant that they didn't care about me and I was incompetent, and searching for jobs was doing me no good anyway, so really I might as well just sleep and dick around online some more...

Part of breaking out of that 'nobody has anything to offer me and I suck' feedback loop is taking other people's suggestions at face value and not assuming you are uniquely miserable. It took me an embarrassingly long time and a lot of resisting people at every turn to get my head around this. Don't make my mistake; accept any help you can get right now.
posted by ActionPopulated at 9:12 AM on October 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


You could sell your eggs or be a surrogate.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:25 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can your mom afford a plane ticket for you to get to her house? Can you make the money to get a ticket by selling your things and moving with just a suitcase? You've clearly been having a terrible time in New York for quite a while, judging by your past questions. Why not take this opportunity to completely reboot everything from scratch?
posted by MsMolly at 9:40 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


dekathelon, you're on the internet right now responding to your post rather than out there looking for jobs. It's 12pm in NYC; retail establishments are open, restaurants are open, basically all businesses are open. Put down the computer/phone and go outside. Walk into every store in a 10 block radius and say "Are you hiring?" then, regardless of the response, say, "I'd like to put in an application."

In case that is somehow impossible, here are a few options:

Lobby attendants $19/hr, no experience

Labor warehouse bakery employee

Secretary part time or full time

Century 21 - many positions, brooklyn location, no experience - recruiting event at 1:30 PM TODAY @ 66 Boerum Place. GO TO THIS.

I searched the phrase "no experience" in Craigslist to find these. Do not just send an email, call them, ASAP. Do not sound downtrodden on the phone, do your best "Hi, I am the most amazing candidate you've ever heard of and will stay with this job forever I don't plan to quit as soon as I find a better job please hire me" impression. Who cares if it's fake. You need money, they need a job done. If they want someone with better qualifications or longevity, they'll offer more money.

But really though, many of the places that will hire you on the spot tend to be the kind that don't post online and use email.

Make looking for a job your 9-5 job. Leave home at 9, start applying everywhere, don't come home until after 5. The weather is spectacular right now. Go. out. side.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:42 AM on October 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


If you get desperate for food, please reach out to the MetaFilter NYC google group- not sure how to link to it since it's a closed group but you can search for it here. Join now, we're a friendly group!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:44 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, maybe some reframing will help. You know all those inspiring stories about beautiful people born into wealthy families who go to private school on trust funds, take gap years in the Alps and then get invited into posh jobs?

No, wait, Those stories aren't inspirational. Nobody roots for those wankers.

The really kickass people - the ones who everyone ooohs and ahhhs over - are people that didn't have a leg up already. They are the people that became celebrity chefs after washing dishes in seedy diners or the people who got a platinum album after busking for coins or had an exhibit in a fancy gallery after selling $6 prints on the internet. They married the sexy spouse after dumping the drunk loser. They overcame hardship. They did what they needed to do.

So, you are one of those kickass people only you are in the phase where things suck. Eventually, things will not suck. So maybe picture yourself as a success in what you want to be and realize that right now you are in the phase of your life where OMG Everything Bites But Boy Howdy Will I Have Interesting Stories to Tell About My Time as a dishwasher/salesgirl/shoe shiner/etc. Go out there and slog through the suck. It will not be pleasant most of the time but you are setting the foundation. YOU CAN DO THE THING.

DO THE THING.
posted by pointystick at 9:44 AM on October 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Specific jobs you can apply for:

(I can't even believe I'm doing this, seriously, it took 30 seconds to go to craigslist and find these jobs for you.)

Some of them say they want customer service experience, but in this case, since you have office experience what I would do is explain that in your cover letter and speak to some of the ways that working in a highly competitive office environment was like handling difficult customers, or how it shows your ability to work with others, or how it demonstrates your work ethic and strong commitment to doing whatever it takes to make others happy.

Gracious Home is hiring for the holidays. First on the list of requirements is a high school diploma, so you can probably handle it.

A specialty food store in Clinton Hill. This one has slightly more stringent experience requirements, but I think you should ignore that and/or bullshit your way into it with a cover letter not unlike what I said above.

A "men's gifts" kiosk at Grand Central. Again they specify "sales experience" but you can bullshit your way through this by describing your freelancing career as "selling myself, every day". You have an advantage for this job, because a lot of women probably won't apply, and yet as a woman you'll be able to appeal to a lot of different customers buying gifts for men.

I may have been wrong about the Halloween places being staffed up: Ricky's is hiring. Like Gracious Home their main requirement is that you be over 18. They mention "experience serving customers", but again, this is hand-wavey bullshit and it's easy to either parlay your experience into something customer service-y or just ignore and apply anyway.

Starbucks is hiring. No experience required. This is an online app, but you may want to drop in at that specific store as well.

This creperie in the West Village doesn't even mention experience in the job listing.

If you click over to the food/bev/hospitality section, you'll find a HUGE list of jobs that require no experience. If I were still in New York, I'd be looking at that barback job in Williamsburg. They say the ideal candidate will have two years of experience, but apply anyway. It's a bussing job. Nobody busses tables for two years. There is no way they really mean that or expect to fill the position with someone who meets that requirement.
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 AM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


For immediacy, don't be afraid to hit up food banks for food. That's what they're there for.

Also, I know chefs and cooks, and they say that a decent dishwasher/busser is worth their weight in gold. Might be worth it to walk into restaurants, say you can wash dishes, you can start immediately, and you don't care what shift you work.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:53 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you keep coming to metafilter and asking the same sorts of questions and never acting on the advice because you're looking for two different answers: First, you want to know that things are going to be okay, these problems can be solved, you are a good person, and there is hope. Those are all true! And metafilter is going to keep telling you that, and you keep coming back because a part of you really needs to hear that. But second, you are hoping that someone will tell you you're a failure and validate your (depression-influenced) view of yourself, and you are frustrated that we will not confirm what is so obvious to you.

It's only obvious to you because your thinking is extremely distorted by your unhappiness (and yes, though I am no psychologist, I think probably clinical depression). The rest of us can see that, yeah, this is a pretty shitty time in your life right now, but it is fixable and solvable, and you have more options than you are willing to recognize. You are catastrophizing like crazy, more and more intensely with each question you ask.

Yes, you have an immediate problem of making rent. People have given you a lot of good suggestions about jobs you can get in the short term to make money. Your larger question, that you keep insisting isn't your question, but is actually all of your questions, is how to deal with this depression spiral that you're in. I think you have three options:

1) Call the resources given above to get in touch with social workers and other support who can help you find the help you need. I am sure one of the NYC mefites who has reached out to you would even come and sit with you and help you make the calls, because it is cripplingly difficult to organize your life and deal with not just everyday stuff but all the crisis stuff when you are in a mental health crisis.

2) Go home to your mother. Regroup. Let her help take care of you and help you sort out these problems. There's no shame in it, something like 30% of 20somethings are "boomeranging" to their parents for longer or shorter stays.

3) Check yourself in for a short stay at a mental hospital, where they can help you get back on an even keel and access the services you need -- including rent support, food, job searching, etc.

You're finding it impossible to cope with the simple steps of finding a temporary crap job to earn $800, and coming up with excuses why none of these ideas will work, and unwilling to even try, because you are absolutely drowning in this depression right now. Until you can deal with that underlying issue, everything else is going to continue to be 10 times as difficult and 10 times as shitty as the hard parts of life normally are (and you are definitely going through a tough, shitty, hard part of life right now!).

Please get the help you need. None of us wants to see you suffering so much, for so long.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:46 AM on October 3, 2013 [40 favorites]


I just thought of another helpful tip about getting a day job.

"Open availability."

Despite the fact that so many of these jobs are part time, badly paid, offer no benefits, and don't even guarantee employment past the Holiday rush, they highly prefer to hire people with no prior commitments.

This is why it was so hard for you to get a retail job in college. The manager will hire someone who can come in any time, work whenever, and doesn't have anywhere else to be over someone who has a complicated class schedule that has to be integrated into the overall schedule of the store.

Open availability is more important than almost any other qualification aside from being legal to work in the US, basic English speaking skills, and minimum hygiene standards.

They want someone who can show up, and who has no other demands on their time. If you're unemployed and not in school, and you don't have kids, you are pretty much a shoe-in for a job.

Make it clear in all applications, emails, cover letters, in-person chats, and interviews that you have regarding any job that your availability is wide open and your first priority in life will be your job there.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 AM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is part of the problem that you don't want to feel like a sucker?

Looking for jobs is time consuming and full of rejection. Plus for many jobs, it's not enough to just show up when you apply; you also need to be at least remotely personable. Which means that most of the advice above comes down to putting yourself out there for rejection, picking yourself up repeatedly, and doing it all with a bloody smile on your face.

Now, if there were some reason to believe that this would work both well and quickly, you might not have a hard time doing it. On the other hand, if you don't really believe that it will work, you wind up feeling like more of a sucker for each application make and each smile you plaster on, and you might feel that refusing to play the game is the only logical thing to do, because the game is stupid.

The thing is that the game is in fact stupid, and the way the world works is also often stupid, but optimism is, despite that, counterintuitively an effective way to go.

So try this. Write the commenter above who made you an offer and just take it. Be nice to them even if you find you resent them or are annoyed by them or whatever; it's an employment context and niceness is professional.

Then, go through the big list of suggestions above and make a summarized list of them (e.g. call temp agencies early in the morning; apply to the green energy company; canvas a certain area for job openings; etc.)

Then the relevant part here: tell yourself that this is all bullshit. None of it's going to work, and even if it does you won't earn enough or you'll get fired or somebody you know will run into you working some menial job and you'll feel stupid. Picture these scenarios in detail and expect them.

Pick a plan for what you'll do as a worst case scenario at the end of the month when you still don't have money. Figure it out and imagine it in detail. (and for fuck's sake make that plan be getting money from relatives you hate or leaving New York, which will at least suck in ways you can foresee unlike, I'm assuming, sex work.)

Anyway, absorb all of this: the fact that job hunting will be a lot of effort and smiling for nothing, that the process of doing it will suck, and that in the end you will do whatever it is your obnoxious last resort is.

Then make a deal with yourself to do this stupid thing anyway. Then go through the list and do it. Don't pretend you believe in it, but do it professionally and well. Make every single job application without expectations.

Give yourself either two or three full weeks of this. After that, if it's still your only option, you go to work on your worst case plan.


Every time you find yourself thinking "this is stupid," tell yourself "well yes, obviously." Then keep doing it anyway for the time period you've allotted. Come to terms with feeling like an idiot for a set period of time.
posted by egg drop at 11:00 AM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I understand and I get the fear, anger and frustration you're feeling.

First, let me stress that I am not being sarcastic or facetious in anything I am saying below. There is only honest sincerity.

As I see it, you need help with your job/money situation, and nothing you're reading is really helping. Turning to AskMe for a speck of hope in a hopeless situation... and it's the same old things you've already thought of, coupled with a bunch of stuff that doesn't apply (i.e. getting therapy)

You've clearly and concisely laid out the common paths to some extra cash (up to and including sex work) and why these won't work for you, or what you have already tried.

But here we are... and I know I would view the "they" responding as people sitting at their stable jobs, or at home on their days off from stable jobs, typing away at computers in their stable homes with bellies full of food, cars in the garage (or street), new clothes in their closets, and the freedom from anxiety that stability and financial security lends.

Your situation sucks. Your fear, your hopelessness, your lack of money and work. I know this not because I saw a documentary once, but because it's quite familiar to me.

I could regale you with a decade long story of my descent into alcoholism, bulimia, fear of others, evaporating love, ruined relationships, destroyed career, homelessness... the list goes on and on.

More apropos to you, I could also describe to you the sharp, biting pain... dulled only by constant exposure, of being trapped in that bitter morass of drudgery, hopelessness, fear and loneliness with the exact detail only someone who has been there personally can.

But you already know my pain, my fear, my anger. Because you're living it right now. The details are different, but the feeling is the same.

You don't have to listen to anyone here, you don't have to read these words, but know that you and I... we are more alike than different

When I was done. When I wanted out... out of the shitty quicksand of intellectualism, and being right, and my agonizing self-pity and self-hate turned hatred of others... I had to listen to someone... anyone else... other than the fucking peanut gallery in my head. They are insane. The things I told myself on a hourly basis would be grounds for a murder defense in any court of law.

It worked for me, and it will work for you. I will guarantee you unequivocally, that if you take every single comment which outlines a positive plan of action out of your situation in this thread, starting at #1 and going down, you will find your solution. Try everything that won't directly hurt you or someone around you, regardless of how effective you think it'll be.

Try it. Try it out of spite, much as I did in the beginning, do it just to tell me I'm wrong in 23 days. That's fine, even though I hate being wrong, because I know for a fact this will not happen.

Again, I can guarantee you that if you take the constructive suggestions in this thread (regardless of whether you think they'll work or not, or you've already done them or not), come October 31, your issue will be well on its way to being resolved or already taken care of.

I write this because I love myself today, and I see so much of my old, familiar pain in you and your other questions, and I want to let that part of me that is in you know that it needs to go away in you too.

And if nobody has told you that they love you today... I love you.
posted by Debaser626 at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2013 [42 favorites]


If you can put twenty sentences together cogently, you could probably make that much on Textbroker. You'll be doing it all day and all night long, but it's money and paid weekly.
posted by thylacine at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


And, for my third post on this thread, I want to link to Hyperbole and a Half's posts on depression [1 and 2] -- possibly the best description I've seen of what it really feels like to be depressed and have no hope.

Sometimes knowing that someone else was once where you are and/or having those feelings articulated eloquently can help start the process of recovery.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:06 PM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm terrified.

I saw this bit of your post as the most important. In my opinion $800 isn't the problem. It looks like it is right now, but it isn't. I'll make some suggestions, you can discount if you like:

1. Talk. To your roommate honestly, to your mum, to friends, to someone. You can help the situation if everyone knows the real deal here. Get your roommate to give you an extra week or two but be honest and tell her exactly what you will be doing from tomorrow to get that rent.

2. Do. I have been here and it sucks. It sucks more if you let it beat you. Get up, get out. Trust me, the boost when someone tells you they are hiring feels amazing. You'll meet new people, have a new goal and feel good! Don't sit behind the computer, it is destructive.

3. Listen. There is some great advice but the dark cloud over your head right now isn't letting them in. Don't let it win. It is telling you that you can't do it but you have made it to 25, this is peanuts in the grand scheme.

4. Most important. Take a half hour and write down everything you can do. Even if they are silly things "I can smile at others, I can touch my toes". A list, a full list. Just to prove that you can do things, lots of them and rather well too. Give yourself an ego stroke. Your question is trapped in negativity and it must be a heavy weight to carry that around. Biting in to that is the way out of the real problem.

Good luck.
posted by 0 answers at 4:11 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I saw one of the deleted replies from the OP. From what I gather, you are being just super fighty and shooting down all suggestions. I don't know where you can find this, but let me suggest you try to find someone to talk to who is amenable to kind of fighting it out with you, in a nice way. You are being denied the opportunity to fight with people here, you are terrfied, depressed, etc. Sometimes that dark place seems inescapable when people around you are all sunshine and roses and playing cheerleader when you just don't feel it.

I kind of mentored a young person at one point who had been horribly abused. Boy, could she dish out the bitch bites. I have a pretty thick hide and I viewed that as her feeling safe with me, so I was pretty tolerant for a time. I was able to do that temporarily in part because an older person once did something similar for me.

So sometimes older people understand that dark place, are innurred to your dark clouds because they have been through bigger challenges, lived to tell and saw their open wounds close up and heal nicely. Sometimes older people aren't simply blowing you off even though you think they are. But I suspect you need some means to wrestle with your feelings, to get down and dirty. Because it sounds like one of your biggest issues is a long list of social Don'ts that are very deeply ingrained and you don't know how to get past them. You probably need to get past that more than anything else.
posted by Michele in California at 4:42 PM on October 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Are you able to lift packages? UPS is hiring part time package handlers, with take home pay of $110-$150/week, which isn't enough to make rent, but maybe better than nothing. They hire seasonal driver helpers between Thanksgiving and Christmas too. It doesn't look like there are qualifications wanted beyond being physically capable of the job.

All the UPS jobs (may be page 2 of the results) within 10 miles of some random Manhattan zip code. (You don't need a CDL to be a delivery driver, but you do have to be able to drive stick.)
posted by hoyland at 4:59 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: This is a necessary clarification.

I guess to really clarify matters, think this thread. The situation described there is almost exactly where I am at in my career. Almost. Except I'm not 38. Which paradoxically makes it so much worse, because there is that much more horizon of failure to look at. It should also give you an idea of the skills I do and don't have.
posted by dekathelon at 7:56 PM on October 3, 2013


And herein lies the difference. You see a horizon of failure. We (and that anonymous poster) see a horizon of possibility.

There are lots of things even the most unskilled person can do to make money quickly. Can you dial a phone and read from a script? Great! You're a telemarketer! Can you answer a phone and tell stories? Great, you're a phone sex worker! Can you walk and carry things? Hurrah, you're a papergirl or leafletter! Can you wear a stupid costume and stand on a corner? Good for you, you're a mascot on a streetcorner twirling a sign.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:15 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Being 25 and having to start a new career is in no way "worse" than being 38 and having to start a new career. I say this not to chastise you, but as a reality check for how severely your depression is warping your thinking. "That person's lucky to have 13 fewer years of life left than I do" is the self-talk equivalent of a fever of 105 degrees.

You are in crisis. Your brain is trying to kill you. I honestly think job, rent, career, whatever are almost irrelevant when you're misfiring, mentally, at this severe a level.

I don't know what to tell you other than to tell someone who knows and loves you in real life that things are this bad and ask them to help. Maybe it's your mum? Whoever it is, please call them right away because this is an emergency.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:18 PM on October 3, 2013 [33 favorites]


The situation described there is almost exactly where I am at in my career. Almost. Except I'm not 38. Which paradoxically makes it so much worse, because there is that much more horizon of failure to look at.

STOP STOP STOP.

What I highlighted is the problem in your life. You have no other problems that you can fix if you cannot fix your depression. That is not a healthy thought pattern. It will destroy you. It's the only thing holding you back. I mean that. You cannot fix anything else in your life until you stop thinking that way. Stop asking us how to fix everything else in your life except the one thing that is at the root of all your problems.
posted by empath at 9:49 PM on October 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Which paradoxically makes it so much worse

Nope.

Having a career crisis at 25, when unless you're a former child actor or a Williams sister you've had a career at all for only a couple of years, is really not such a big deal. A lot of people burn out on the thing they thought they were passionate about, or it turns out the industry isn't in a position to support them (print media comes to mind), or they get laid off, or any number of things that land them back in day job land.

Hell, there are plenty of people who haven't even started their career at 25. Just about all my college friends had McJobs before finally finding Real Careers in our late 20s. And now that we're in our thirties, a lot of us are having the same kinds of career crises you are having. Which is very difficult because we're at the age when our parents think we're supposed to be settling down and becoming materially more successful. Also, to be really frank, eating boxed macaroni and cheese and shopping at thrift stores gets really old when you're in your 30s.

Look, seriously, get it out of your system now. Be a part-time barback with four roommates who lives on ramen noodles and diet coke. Figure out how to be happy. It's a lot more socially acceptable to do this at 25 instead of 35, and it's basically impossible at 45. Be young now, while you are actually young.
posted by Sara C. at 10:39 PM on October 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dekathelon: You can get out of the depression lie now, or you can get out of it in 5 years, 10 years, 15. That's up to you; it's your life to live or waste and ain't no skin off my nose either way.

But if you want to get a job, make rent, and find some stability, you need to tell your brain to fuck off. Because it is your only, and I mean only, actual obstacle here. Your brain. It is disinterested in survival, but you are interested in survival, ergo it is your enemy.

Ignore it! Spite it! Argue with it! You are as good at arguing as depressed-me was. Namely, really brilliant at arguing. I could win any argument when I was depressed, as long as it ended with everyone angry at me so that I felt appropriately despised.

So argue. Your depression will HATE you for it. Win-win. (I am not kidding. You want to feel despised? Make your depression hate you.)

You: I'm going to go out and apply to coffeeshops
Brain: It will never work, they don't want you, they hate you, you are going to starve and die.
You: Fuck off! Who talks to someone like that? Jesus, rude.
Brain: You're going to die alone, everyone hates you, you're a failure
You: WHAT PART OF RUDE DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND.
Brain: [some depressed nonsense]
You: What do you know? If you're so smart how come all you do is bitch? Come to think of it, if I'm such a failure and you're so smart, what the hell are you even doing hanging out around here? Huh? Oh look, now I'm the rational one. Talk to the hand, I'm trying to remember my references' phone numbers.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:23 PM on October 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


I have no idea if my story will help you. I hope some of it does.

I'm your age. I graduated from a good university with decent grades and fantastic work experience. Seriously, I could have ridden to grad school probably pretty easily on the back of that work experience.

About six weeks before graduation, I blew out my knee in a skiing accident.

A year after that (I got a job almost immediately upon graduation), that job gave me a shoulder injury.

The injuries have more or less healed, but will never be the same; the lingering weakness makes doing jobs in my field (at least, at the level with an undergrad degree, and I have no desire to actually go for grad school in this field) very difficult. Can I do it? Technically. It will cause my body loads of grief and pain, and I'd like to be able to use this body for a few more decades yet. So I abandoned my field more or less completely. All that time spent in doing research, networking, all those years of study and money... Most of it was useless once I left. So I sympathize with the feeling that I've wasted years of my life on something I can't use. I really do. And a lot of other MeFites have been there in very similar situations. We know where you're coming from, honest.

You are not the first, nor will you be the last, 20-something year old who isn't good at their field of choice, who leaves their field, or leaves and come back. And whether or not you think any of your skills transfer from your field is emphatically not the point. Most of the jobs listed by the Mefites above can be done untrained. Can you stand and lift 15 pounds? Then you can work at a restaurant, or a coffee shop. If you can work odd hours, you can do security guard. And etc. I'm sure you have some restrictions against some of these jobs, but I don't believe you if you categorically eliminate all of them. And frankly, you shouldn't believe yourself either.

I do think you need therapy, and careful re-evaluation of your life/goals/maybe career. But in the short term, I think you need to pick at least five of the suggestions up top and just go try them. You might fail at some. You might fail at all of them. You won't be first to, as many here can attest. They got through it. You will too, if you let yourself.

I wish you well.
posted by Zelos at 11:49 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Listen. I'm your age, I've felt like you do, and I want you to know that it's going to be okay. I promise. You just need to try. I know that seems really hard right now, and you probably feel like you are trying as hard as you can, but I think that once you start attacking a list of specific goals, it'll all fall into place. In some ways, you and I are similar, and I stay motivated by reminding myself that lots of people are miserable when they're in their twenties, and in ten years, I'll look back on my life now and not recognize it. Remember how much middle school sucked? In ten or fifteen years, that's how you'll feel about your twenties: it sucked, but you made it through and learned something.

I've gone to sleep hungry. I've faced unemployment. I've felt the anxiety brought on by living on the brink of homelessness. I've been utterly hopeless and without options. I've been convinced, deep down in my heart, that there's something fundamentally wrong with me and I'm doomed to a life of failure which is ALL MY FAULT.

Unlike you, I don't have any family who can help me. I just have myself. Initially, I found this kind of terrifying, but if you approach it differently, it's empowering. Who cares what your peers are doing? Who cares what people think? Sometimes I joke that "who cares" is my life motto, but in a way, it's true. Nobody cares what you're doing as much as YOU do.

Your current situation does not define you. You can be anything you want to be.

Like I said, I've been where you are, maybe even worse. It gets better if you believe in yourself enough to MAKE it better. Nobody is going to do it for you.

Here is what I did.

1. First, I left the expensive place where I lived to relocate to a less-expensive but still far away from home city. I didn't want to, but it was necessary. I scraped together the money I needed for a train ticket and moved with one suitcase. I didn't own any socks.

2. Before I moved, I started contacting temp agencies in my target city. You need to call them, not just email. They'll understand the situation you're in, and if they're decent, they won't lead you on. Contact more than one. Act like you're willing to do ANY job, because at this point, you are. I contacted at least 10 agencies and also applied for jobs I found on my own, all before relocating.

3. Simultaneously, start volunteering somewhere, anywhere that looks good to you. This is how you get your foot in the door and meet people who live lives you can only dream about right now. Surround yourself with people who are who you want to be. It's a good way to fill up your days, a good way to network, and having something to DO makes you feel somehow more human. It feels good to know that people depend on your work and want you around. If you apply for something that looks fantastic but are rejected, ask about volunteer positions. Ideally, this volunteer position will lead to a paid job in a field you'd like to work in.

4. Apply for food stamps. Your situation is why the program exists, and nobody can be expected to feel her best when she's desperately hungry. Seriously, I don't care what you think, there is no shame in getting food stamps. When I went to a grocery store and realized that for the first time in my life, I could buy anything I wanted, I cried. It's amazing how much better you feel when you don't need to worry about how you'll eat. It's also less of a hassle than you probably expect. Getting food stamps for a period doesn't doom you to a life of dependency.

5. Find a doctor. I know you don't have money, but could your mom help cover your copay? Could you find a sliding-scale mental health practitioner? Go to the doctor once. Say that you think you need to try an antidepressant. Many pharmacies have $4 generic prescriptions, including some antidepressants. Lots of people take antidepressants, and they're not forever marked with a scarlet letter or anything. Honestly, if you need to, make an appointment with a doctor, get the meds, and then don't pay the bill.

6. Get out of the house daily. When I was super depressed, unemployed, and almost homeless, I'd go to Starbucks and just sit to watch people. Being out and about helps you to get out of your own head.

7. Easier said than done, but learn to be happy with just yourself. You don't need friends or a significant other to tell you that you're valuable and worthwhile. Be content with your own company. Rely on yourself. You're competent and you know better than anyone else what you need.

8. This sounds stupid, but when you're feeling really down, watch the movie Reality Bites. The first time I saw it was about a year ago, and I bawled. It's just so...right.

Keep trying. Keep believing that it's going to be okay. You are everything you need, and you're going to be all right. I believe in you!
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:54 PM on October 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


My suggestion is to do nothing. Continue what you have been doing so far. Reject all options. You obviously have not hit bottom yet, and some people just need to hit bottom before they rebuild. Once you are homeless and living on the streets, you will be more likely to take some of this advice. Good luck. (This suggestion comes from my own experience. I have needed to hit rock bottom in a number of areas in my life before I was willing to do what was necessary to rebuild. And, nothing anyone told me was able to get me to change until I experienced the consequences of not changing.)
posted by hworth at 6:51 AM on October 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


there is that much more horizon of failure to look at.

Then don't look at it. There's a reason why people in recovery use the mantra "one day at a time." Knowing that we could possibly slide back into our addictions eventually requires us to shorten that horizon to what we can do today, and what we can do today is do whatever we need to stay clean and sober. What you can do today is work on some of the suggestions that people have given you. Let tomorrow take care of itself.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:00 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess to really clarify matters, think this thread. The situation described there is almost exactly where I am at in my career. Almost. Except I'm not 38. Which paradoxically makes it so much worse, because there is that much more horizon of failure to look at. It should also give you an idea of the skills I do and don't have.


This doesn't really clarify things, because you haven't been clear about what your field is. The thread you linked to is about a person who works in the product design field. Do you also work in the product design field? If not, what field do you work in? It would be really helpful if you could stop being vague about what field you work in, so that you can get some answers that will speak specifically to the field of work that you are in. Without specifics, this is like going to the doctor and telling them, "I'm really not feeling well," and when asked for more details about what part of your body is not feeling right, shrugging and going "Meh, I don't know, whatever" instead of being clear.

Please respond with actual clarification about what field you're in and what kind of work you want to be doing, so that other members here can direct you to potential job openings in the field you wish to be employed in.
posted by palomar at 8:08 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why do you keep asking for help and then refuse all help offered to you? You are failing yourself by ignoring everyone reaching out!
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:01 PM on October 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


That might be the point, TBOAF. Depression and self hatred can really screw up a persons brain... sometimes it hits a point where, consciously or not, they are bound and determined to validate their bad self image. Instead of working for healthy, good things for ourselves, we devote far too much energy to self sabotage, self abuse, wallowing in our past failures, and extrapolating from the many past failures to the endless future catastrophes. And.... at a certain level of self sabotage, these failures ARE inevitable, like the man married ten times and wondering why no woman is perfect... cause every where he goes, there he is. Being stuck inside that layer of inevitable is very, very tough.

Your self-sabotaging side DOES NOT want to change. It is very,very hard to change it on your own. It feels a lot like a little death when you do manage to confront and deny that side. Then you are left with grief and anger and hurt and confusion and emptiness all at the same time. People can fill this up with self improvement and love for self and others, but when you hit that low, low level of hope and faith that you/your unconscious/unresolved issues WONT screw your life up again, for the 15th time, it is very hard.

We get so used to it it can be hard to see and understand. Failure and self sabotage becomes so normal, yet we wonder why it keeps happening. But it does. And, like i said, the merciless self examination that it takes to break this foundation of everything you have been for 15 or 25 or 30 years is really scary and hard. But possible. And worth it. It is, I think, often what it takes to be who you want to be in life.
posted by Jacen at 4:02 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know that, Jacen. I have been there. I had my reasons -- I'd like to know DK's.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:21 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you end up deciding the leave NYC and you want a reliable working holiday adventure (it feels good to be useful!) where you get delicious food, good company, and a reliable roof each day in exchange for half a day's work, there's WWOOFing.
posted by aniola at 7:07 PM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The situation described there is almost exactly where I am at in my career. Almost. Except I'm not 38. Which paradoxically makes it so much worse, because there is that much more horizon of failure to look at. It should also give you an idea of the skills I do and don't have.

You are 25 years old! You've got plenty of time to do something completely different career-wise! It is just the depression that is telling you otherwise.

After wasting several years working in retail, I went back to university at 26 with a bunch of 18-year-olds. I felt like a total loser. I thought I was way too old to be starting over. But by the time I graduated (and started a new, much better career at 29), I realized how ridiculous I was being. If your career has stalled, do something new. It doesn't have to be more school, but you obviously need some kind of big change in your life.

Honestly, I should have gone back to school much earlier, it was just my fear of failure and embarrassment at my situation that made me drag my feet for so long.
posted by barnoley at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2013


Okay. Hard truth(s) time, honey. What I am about to say may make you angry, but here's the deal: when something really, REALLY angers you, that's because it hit a nerve. You can either lash out, turn the anger inward... or you can break down and admit, "Shit... there's some truth here that I didn't wanna face. Maybe I should."

I have read every single one of your AskMes. And every time I see you've posted a new one, I cringe, because I know that it will be yet another vortex of negativity.

I'm going to be blunt, but not because I'm attacking you... instead, it's because I think you ARE a worthwhile person, and you DO deserve happiness: you are AT PRESENT a deeply, DEEPLY miserable person. And it negatively affects every single area of your life. It's like wearing a cloak made of, I don't know, rabies and fire and copies of "Mein Kampf": it will alienate everything and everyone. And it will hurt YOU most of all.

I do not think that you are AT HEART a deeply, deeply miserable person. Even if you are, I do not think you need to be that way FOREVER. But if you keep doing the same stuff you've been doing, then nothing will change.

Every sentence you write drips with self-hatred. STOP THAT SHIT. NOW. I don't CARE if you're depressed: so am I. I have been for my entire adult life. Self-hatred is a cheap, shitty, masturbatory way to deal with it. It feels GOOD to fucking wallow in it. It accomplishes nothing. If you are serious about improving your life - and I am going to assume you are, given that you've posted questions to that effect many times - you cannot wallow. Instead of looking at yourself through jaundiced, hateful eyes, look at yourself with HONESTY: "The stuff I've been doing isn't working. I don't like myself. I often seem to clash with people and groups. I need help."

If you can do this - REALLY do this - great. Go back and read decathecting's comment: it is SPOT-ON. You need to do that, or something similar, or you will be stuck in your own personal fractal of despair for the rest of your life. You deserve better. Please - pretty please - try to believe that you do.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:50 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, you know what? Memail me. If you are serious about not wanting to live this way any more ("this way" = "the life described in all of your previous posts"), I will personally take a train up to NYC, meet you, eat some falafel with you (my treat!), and tell you in a blunt but non-sugarcoated manner what your issue(s) may be and how you can fix them. I'm an INTJ. We fix things. Also: I am a normal, non-serially-killing person, and this is a 100% serious offer.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:55 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if something pisses you off, it probably did hit a nerve. It also likely was said in a not very nice manner. It is debatable whether or not people intentionally "hitting" your nerves are the best people to help you (hitting generally being an abusive behavior).

We all sometimes benefit from hearing something akin to "It is at least partly you, not just your situation." (especially if specifics are included about what we are doing that is problematic, why it is problematic, and what some other options are). Since most people are raised with either a shame or a guilt model, most people will feel either blamed or shamed by being told that, often no matter how it was said. But the reality is that lots of the people saying it are, in fact, blaming you because they were also raised that way.

I am emphatically not blaming you. I am telling you that humans are like a multi-layered computer program full of bugs in the wetware. I am saying that somewhere in your depths is programming from your childhood put there by someone else or by circumstances beyond your control and it is fucking with your ability to make your life work. It isn't your fault.

But the good news is that you are not a child anymore, thus you are not doomed to just unquestioningly accept that programming and the unpleasant fate it inclines you towards. You can examine yourself. You can ask why. You can look at patterns of your own behavior and infer the real rules you are living by which may not really make sense anymore because the world has changed and also you aren't 2 years old anymore either (or whatever age a particular thing was handed to you against your will).

It is your life. You can wrestle it away from whatever ghosts and demons from the past are whispering awful things in your ears. It can take a lot of time and effort but sometimes major progress happens suddenly due to an unexpected epiphany. Sometimes, time spent talking to someone who has lived differently from you is very eye opening, sometimes without all this pressure to force change upon you (& most people resist things being forced upon them -- for very good reasons -- so sometimes finding some hippy tree hugger type who is not invested in making you do anything is fantastic).

I am sorry your life is so difficult at the moment. Honestly, there is no guarantee it will get better and the reality is that some portion of our frustrations are always beyond our control and the reality is that there is currently a recession so lots of people are out of work and having financial problems. It sucks that you happen to be one of them. But you are allowed to make other choices if you are not happy with what you are getting out of life. Blaming circumstances only goes so far. Even when you are not to blame for how your life sucks, you are responsible for sorting it out. And, hey, that is actually good news because you are the one that has to live with it.

(((((hugs))))) & best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:45 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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