How to Tackle Being 21 Years-Old (Or Unemployed)

Turning 21 years-old is great since you don’t need to use Fake I.D. anymore to get into a bar. But it’s also tough, especially if you’ve had a taste of living away from home. It’s a change of identity from the adult you were becoming to the kid you were. It’s challenging to be back living at home without a job or direction. (Because you can’t get your own place without money and you can’t get money without a job and you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience with out a job!) Here are a few ideas, from my experience, to save you time:

1. Create a Schedule.

It’s too easy to get lost in an unstructured day and feel depressed. A written-down schedule can save you from some serious blues and even give you a sense of accomplishment. Schedule-in getting outside in the morning for a walk or run. This might sound dreadful but it’s surprisingly helpful. You can include times in your schedule for goofing off, feeling lost, video games and social media if you need to. Be sure to schedule it though, so it doesn’t take over. My friends and I met for coffee every week. We called it “Nowhere To Go Tuesday.”  It morphed into a goals group where we encouraged each other to complete weekly tasks and figure out what we wanted in life. And on Tuesdays. Time saver.

2. Rebuild Your Posse In a New Way.

It needs to be acknowledged that your surroundings have suddenly changed. If you went to college, there were classrooms and parties with tons of kids your age. Now it’s quiet, lonely, and you may be living with a parent or two. It’s like you were sent to grow up and now you’ve traveled back in time. Know that most, if not all, of your friends are in the same boat scrambling to get their lives on track. Talk with a friend you trust about what’s going on for you; don’t be afraid to release friends from your life who no longer suit you; and seek out friends who are thoughtful and grounded.

3. Modify Your Time Staring at a Screen.

Recognize how you feel during and after your time on social media and/or video games. I often feel like I do after eating movie theater popcorn. Part satisfied, part greasy. If the result after being on-line is jealousy and feeling “less than”, please save yourself, and limit when and how long you subject yourself to feeling lousy. Schedule your surf and set a timer. See people in person. I went back to a flip phone! If that’s way too far, at least cut down on the time spent looking at a screen during this vulnerable time where you need all the peace, security, and eye contact you can get.

4. Embrace That Life is Not Linear.

Education, as a system, is set up to accumulate. Tests amount to grades, grades amount to graduation. But, who knew, that accumulation might not pay off right away. It will eventually. But unless you have a job waiting for you, there’s likely a gap of time to enjoy wondering: “What now?!” If you feel emotions like: angst, struggle, lost, and this sucks, you’re right where you’re supposed to be. 21 is like a second puberty. Have some compassion for yourself. It’s all accumulating into a non-linear tapestry of experience, preference, and wisdom that make you uniquely you.

5. Have a “Thing”.

While you’re looking for work, taking on a new interest is a life-saver. It can provide something just to think about, and dare I say, look forward to in the morning. I’m talking about doing the book The Artists Way,  reading Joe Dispenza, joining Toastmasters, or volunteering. Having a Thing can help keep you grounded, especially when you’re asked the dreaded question, “What do you do?” You’ll feel better about yourself when you have a “do” when you don’t have a “job”.

6. Modify Your Sexpectations.

Finding love, sex, or just someone to have a crush on at 21 can be just as lonely as finding a job. Depending on what community you live in you might be looking to get married soon or not for a long-a** time. Either way, take heart. You are not the only one not getting what you want right now. You may not even know what you want. Give yourself that honesty.

So Twenty-One-ers, save yourself time by understanding that the figuring-it-out-struggle between 20 and 30 is a relatively new stage of life so there’s not a ton of guidance out there. You can share your own tips with the community in the comments, ask a question, or at the very least, find some comfort in your accomplishments even if they’re small. Remember – especially when sending out resumes and not hearing back – Accomplishment is in the taking of an action, not necessarily the result.


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6 Comments on “How to Tackle Being 21 Years-Old (Or Unemployed)”

  1. You write like you are a friend. It made me feel comforted and left me with wisdom.

    1. Heather Maidat says:

      Patty, thank you so much for letting me know!

  2. That is just how I feel. You captured my feelings real well. I will try your good ideas.

    1. Heather Maidat says:

      I’m so glad you relate. Thanks for the note!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think you should change the title because I am 50 and this applies to me too.

    1. Heather Maidat says:

      Haha – I appreciate that! It really is such a new time with just about everyone figuring out how they want to make life better. Thanks.

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