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14 Films About Hitting Rock Bottom: A Girl's Guide to Recovery

By Amanda Mae Meyncke | Guides | October 10, 2012 | Comments ()


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This week I got a good look at the actual amount of my student debt. Enough said. I was also informed by my landlady that I was probably going to have to move because my apartment is being condemned and there wouldn't be a working toilet in the building. She could see my mind racing and said that no, living without a toilet or running water wasn't an option. Then, this past weekend, I dropped my phone in a lake. As it slowly sank below the surface, I stared at it peacefully. I wasn't even that surprised and sort of asked if someone else on the dock could jump in and get it. When things are consistently bad you kind of just learn to accept it because even acknowledging it too much feels like a kind of giving in.

A few months ago, after gaining a good amount of weight, ending a serious relationship and effectively losing my longtime job, I jokingly began telling people I didn't even know how things could get worse. After things kept getting worse, I got quiet. That kind of bravado feels light years away from where I am now, hoping that things can only get better. All the same I don't quite feel I've hit rock bottom. Maybe if I get hit by a car and one of my arms is ripped off, or my apartment gets broken into and all my stuff is stolen, or a number of other possibilities that actually scare me too much to put into words happen. Here's hoping that rock bottom comes with a parachute, advanced warning and plenty of soft landings, but life hasn't exactly been like that so far.

What we have here is another playlist to track through life's struggles, a series of movies where people hit rock bottom and ideally make a recovery of one kind or another. Ordered from most depressing to most hopeful about the future, because up, out and optimistic is the only way to survive. Hopefully you're not in such a bad place, but more of a temporary funk. In that case, sidle down to the middle of the list and make your way from there.

14. Melancholia

Nothing could be worse than crippling physical depression except the impending possible end of the world. While much of this film is meandering and evasive, what could be more rock bottom than the pending end of the known universe? Kirsten Dunst manages to convey the stark, impossible nature of depression in a way that only few films touch.

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13. Requiem for a Dream

Drug addiction claims the waking lives of a myriad of individuals in New York. One of the most profound and troubling films about depression, drug addiction, loneliness, aging, fear, sadness and loss ever made. The stoniest of all rock bottoms, this movie will wreck you. But also it will make you super glad you don't have a crippling drug addiction. Unless you do, then it will just wreck you.

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12. Kill Bill

One woman's quest to right a very deep set of wrongs sets off a seemingly endless bloodbath. Uma Thurman plays a woman who finds herself at rock bottom at the beginning of Kill Bill Vol. 1, and must fight her way up and through the problems surrounding her. Revenge is a helluva drug.

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11. Blue

A woman finds herself lost in sadness after the death of her husband and daughter, and tries to isolate herself from the world and emotions. One of the most beautiful films ever made, as robust and heady as the first time you fell in love, and as gentle and powerful as a hand pulling you from danger.

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10. Fight Club

When one man meets a stranger that turns his consumer life upside down, he loses it all and doesn't even care that much when he starts attending a violent fight club. The best thing about Fight Club is that is appears to exist outside a framework where money is even that important. Once the narrator stops caring, it feels like we rarely see him eat and never see him pay a bill.

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9. Bug

Mixed up with a stranger, a woman begins to believe that the government and a potential bug infestation have something to do with one another. The ultimate paranoid love story finds Ashley Judd losing her mind right along Michael Shannon. Poor, divested of all she ever cared for, and left with only her trust and belief in the presence of bugs in her trailer trash motel room -- this movie will actually leave you feeling grateful that things in your life aren't quite that bad.

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8. The Virgin Suicides

I hesitate to include this one because suicide is never the answer to rock bottom. Revel in the soundtrack, appreciate the feel and colors of this Sophia Coppola film, and then go call someone you've been meaning to contact but have been putting off for one reason or another, because I'm sure they'd like to hear from you and maybe things are a little difficult for them right now too.

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7. Dark Victory

A vapid and angry young socialite finds out she has a terminal disease and is faced with the decision of giving up or going on. Bette Davis absolutely demands the utmost of her audience in this classic. This used to be the only movie that would ever make me cry. The ending scene is a masterpiece, and the latter half of the film is so filled with grace and acceptance that it never fails to surprise.

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6. Margaret

Filmed mid-decade and held until this year by the studio, Margaret deserves to be seen by an enormous audience. A young girl witnesses a devastating accident that throws her life into confusion when she thinks she may have partially caused the incident. This film is ultimately about the utter lack of power we hold over the universe and the lack of agency we experience in our own lives. Anna Paquin is stunning, and the script and direction by Kenneth Lonergan is magnificent.

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5. Smashed

A marriage between two alcoholics must change when one of them considers sobriety. Is it enough to simply love another person? Well, usually not, but maybe this time for us! Mary Elizabeth Winstead exemplifies the principles of hitting rock bottom and getting one's life together against one's better impulses, and Aaron Paul provides a remarkable foil. Realistic and profoundly affecting, Smashed is a tremendous film, stark and devastating while remaining fascinating and beautiful.

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4. Bridesmaids

Being a single lady with no real fulfilling work and tons of debt when all your friends are married and pretty and have nice husbands is kind of the worst. Kristen Wiig does her best and still finds life isn't handing her the finer things. Remarkable because of how true to life the principles are, if not the particulars -- Jon Hamm and casual rejection to outright failure and terrible weddings.

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3. Out of Africa

In the 1910s, Meryl Streep must deal with a disappointing life far away from her beloved Denmark, including her husband who fails her and a farm life that is far too difficult. While she is downtrodden, she is never defeated, and would that we all had such gorgeous rock bottoms to fall upon as the African plains and such gorgeous companions as Robert Redford to wash our hair for us.

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2. Tiny Furniture

Lena Dunham's feature about a young girl straight out of college, unemployable, unbangable and living with her parents. This modern tale of moderate failure is actually what rock bottom felt like for an entire generation of unsuccessful girls who stupidly agreed to get liberal arts educations. The first time I saw this movie several years ago before the release, I got weird and tried to email Dunham about how much the movie affected me and how modern and efficient it was, intricately mirroring the experiences of nearly everyone I knew. Now I'm like geez, get a grip, but also, still secretly feel this way.

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1. Gone with the Wind

The king stay the king! Scarlett O'Hara loses three husbands, a child, her home, and most importantly -- the South, but she never loses sight of who she is. A lesser woman would have given up in the face of the Civil War and overwhelming odds, but Scarlett is never anything less than fired up by adversity, especially when she might get something out of it. The very model of independence and ingenuity, Scarlett hits rock bottom over and over, and continues to claw her way to the surface, determined to succeed.

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I think the most important thing to remember is that it will pass. I know, scoff, glare, tell me to go to hell -- I know. It's almost impossible to believe while it's happening to you, one injustice piled upon another, a stupid Jenga stack of bad things and sad feelings, but even rock bottom provides you with a wonderful view of the sky and your own escape route. Take a moment to look around you and consider that you won't be here again. In the future, things are brighter and you will come through this a stronger person, more wholly yourself in all the best ways.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    The thing about mental health issues is that people think you're doing it for attention and get out of responsibilities. Or, you're being hyperbolic and there's no such as side effects, just laziness. The thing is that the world keeps going, whether you`re engaging with it or being throttled by it and the threat of being labelled as self-pitying or indulgent is powerful reason to avoid sharing anything of yourself.

    Considering how to wade successfully through fear, sadness, failure and their aftermath might be a less fatalistic exercise than tempting fate and asking 'what else can go wrong?' In January, I thought I had nothing and asked that question, now it's October and seven surgeries, two ruptured ovaries and a demon case of sepsis have taught me better. I'm not going to lie, at this moment there is nothing good happening in my life, it's all incredibly bad and frightening but since dropping out of life isn't an option, I try to remember that each passing day means one fewer day of suffering and since I know that there isn't anything or anyone waiting for me on the other side of the struggle, I try to think more about some kind of liberation of the soul and future life that isn't bogged down in 'What I Did and How I Failed', but a vastness of unburdened future and time. I'm not unique in this regard, and since letting ourselves heal feels like letting ourselves off the hook for whatever real or imagined transgressions hang around we stagnate and feel contrite for ever having been born sometimes. So what? All of that time doesn't have to be staked out and reserved for what diminishes us, and without the din of all of that-beastliness just ripping and ripping, your own future can feel more as if it's your own property, yet ungoverned by the pain or doom viewed as a foregone conclusion.

    Life can't fix us for us, so if we have any say, why let hopelessness steal our voices? I realise that what I'm writing doesn't even feel authentic to me, but it's impossible to really see reality when so mired in some Slough Of Despond, so why can't some self-comfort be allotted any time when self-loathing has been hogging all of the airtime and it's little routine is beyond tired? I realise that I have had yet another stressful and traumatic day leaving me looking like a fool to people with whom that's as bad a situation as can exist, but we won't stop, okay? Don't let hating your circumstances turn into hating yourself. I think of the song 'Try Again' by Big Star which says it all: '...But each time, it gets a little harder--I feel the pain...but I'll try again.'

    Try again.

    For all of the ways that my life has rebelled against best-laid plans--personal, professional, academic, finance and health of mind and body,

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    What the shit? I don't know what happened with the end of that comment, but my parting words were meant to ask you and all of us to try again. For every bit of garbage in life comes another opportunity to try again, and at least we have that. A lot of us seem to be sinking, so we have to keep kicking because what else is there?

    Always try again (said by the queen of 'too tired, too enervated, just want to watch Rocket Robin Hood in peace'.

    All the best.

  • Tinkerville

    This was beautiful and very much needed, Jo Mama. I won't go into full details but after I was misdiagnosed with the wrong mental disorder and put on a series medications that severely messed up my brain, it's been a struggle getting back to something that remotely resembles a healthy state of mind and talking about it has been even harder for the exact reasons you described. Let's all keep kicking.

  • All the best to you, Jo Mama. <3

  • GunNut2600

    I'm sorry but "Tiny Furniture" was in my opinion, one of the worst films I have ever sat through.

    Now I fully recognize I have a COMPLETELY different background then the writer/star of the film. But I have enjoyed or at least appreciated films that didn't directly speak to me.

    The value system..or maybe I mean the outlook of the characters in this film...check that, the characters themselves, were so detestable to me, I couldn't take the film seriously. It almost felt like I was watching torture porn, where annoying, disposable characters are just thrown onto the screen, just so a slack jawed audience can cheer when they get slaughtered...only in this case, there is no payoff.

    For someone to say that the characters in this film adequately represents them makes as much sense to me as someone saying the same thing about Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze), in "Donnie Darko".

    Its really rare for me to not connect or hate a film completely. There is usually something to appreciate in any film. But "Tiny Furniture" just for some reason rubbed me completely the wrong way.

    That all said, if it floats your boat, go nuts.

  • brainiacdesigns

    Thank you for writing this. For you, me and everyone else, I hope it gets better.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Y'all who are struggling might take a gander at "The Stockwell Paradox." It's the answer given by the most senior Naval Officer held at the Hanoi Hilton, when asked how he got through it.

    A Google will get you half a dozen entry points.

  • Tracey Sims

    Thanks. I needed this.

  • Xulux

    Willard. When the world is beating you down, it's good to have an army of rats to fight back with.

  • Sandi

    Amanda, thanks for writing this list. I've only watched a couple of these films so I will definitely try to track down the others. I feel like my life is useless, hopeless but I'm trying to find the way out. Maybe these movies will help.

  • Idle Primate

    i would add the man with the golden arm, the long weekend and the days of wine and roses(jack lemmon version)

  • Pnnylne

    It feels good to see someone going through the same challenges. I've recently graduated, been unemployed for about 1 yr+ months, lost my phone, and faced with student debt...I think a GWTW session is in order.

  • Thank you for this, I needed it today. I have seen most of these and I will seek out some of the others as well.

  • If I started seeing Michael Shannon in my living room, I'd think I was losing it too.

  • AngelenoEwok

    Yeah, never a good sign.

  • I really liked this post, so my comment is not directed at the post the author or the Pajiba team- I understand the need to get paid and web advertising never really bothers me, until today. Accordingly,I will now never be able - on principle- to watch that Arrow show, because the advertisers insisted on adding a pop up add to every photo and video clip in this post. One was annoying, but every photo? CW you suck.

  • tmoney

    When my son was stillborn earlier this year, I thought life couldn't get any worse. And the thing is, I was right. I'm still in debt up to my ears, my husband is in grad school seven hours away, and I'm losing my relationship with my parents, but you know what, I'm better than I was in February. Rock bottom sucks, but climbing those rocks feels pretty awesome.

    For my money, Bridesmaids was a breath of fresh air, and I really liked Kristin Wiig's character more than I expected.

  • Muffin

    You have a rotten, child killing womb.

  • Sarah Garber

    I am really sorry about your little baby. You're right, it doesn't get worse than that.

  • joelboy

    If you want to hear real, harsh, almost vicious tragedy, I highly recommend you download the Tig Notaro's recorded comedy show: 'Tig Notaro - Live' from Louis CK's website. It's devastating and ridiculously funny at the same time.

  • Bodhi

    This.

  • mrcreosote

    Really Scarlett lost everything? Scarlett? Slave-owner Scarlett? I know with God as her witness she's never going to go hungry again, but that's because due to Jim Crow and various deep-seated prejudices she's still not going to have to pick her own crops. You know why she lost everything in the Civil War? SHE WAS ON THE WRONG FUCKING SIDE!!!! Stories like Gone with the Wind and Birth of a Nation just perpetuate that antebellum romantic horseshit.

  • Guest

    I never said that. I most definitely did not say that. But thanks for the history lesson. I said she saved everyone on that farm. And she saved the farm. That. That's what I said.

    And Scarlett did not own the slaves. Her father did. And when she did try to own something (a mill) she was looked down on as trashy and ostracized.

  • Sarah Garber

    I always thought one of the things about good art/movies/books/music was that they have the power to make typically-unsympathetic people sympathetic.

  • mrcreosote

    I'm partially being a jerk. But only partially. she didn't save a farm. She maintaned a plantation. There is a signifigant difference. My real issue is dressing up a morally indefensible system with romantic trappings while glossing over the fact that her family owned other people. And her state fought a war to keep owning other people. And because they insisted on owning other people, 600,000 people died. This doesn't even count the people actually in slavery. I know I may be overreacting, but this makes me irrationally angry. I still have to listen to people defend the civil war as being not about slavery, but about defending a genteel way of life that vanished from the world. That's the myth I believe this movie perpetuates. You know who had a tough life? Prissy and Mammy. You don't hear about their families though, because the movie follows around a 19th century Kardashian. For the record however I don't have anything against liberal arts degrees.

  • Guest

    I see your point. I do. But she saved everyone on that plantation's LIFE. Melanie would have been dead. Prissy probably too. She hid them under that bridge when the Yankees marched. She scavenged with her own hands and fed her shiftless thankless sisters, Melanie, etc. She rallied every person on that farm to pitch in. When she arrived home every one of them, Mammy, Pork, Prissy, her father, her sisters ALL were asking what do we do now, what do we eat? What? How? SHE did it. Later, she gave Ashley a job. Melanie alone ever appreciated her effort and abasement in order to save them.

    I don't care what side she was on and probably, neither did she. She was a survivor. Also, it's one of the most beautifully written pieces of prose ever ever ever.

  • kilmo

    She only gave Ashley a job, because she was in love with him. Who by the by was her best friend's husband. So she was also a wannabe HOMEWRECKER, lol.

  • Puddin

    She also sold lumber to the Yankees, which pissed off everybody.

  • ,

    Especially when they turned them into bats and won dozens more world championships than anyone else.

    Srsly, yuck the Fankees.

  • thenchonto

    I'm well into the rocky zone, not at the bottom, but definitely in some sort of crevice. I have no idea where I'll be living in a month. I'm broke as hell and drowning in debt, and hilariously enough, the only way out of this rut seems to be applying to, and getting into, grad school majoring in exactly the sort of thing I'm currently feeling burnt out on. So, more debt and uncertainty. And underemployment along the way. I got wait-listed trying to find an anxiety therapist covered by my insurance, so that issue is really going nowhere. My computer and phone batteries are slowly, slowly giving up. And I'm dealing with the after-rumblings of loss while 2000 miles away from my family.

    So... I'm right there with you. I think the thing to do is marathon a few of these in my silky old-lady robe over wine and jigsaw puzzles in the late afternoon. Momentarily feeling like a carefree, aging dilettante always helps.

    Mostly, I'm impatient for things to get brighter again. I've crossed through the malaise and now I'm just frustratedly hunting for a hidden dimmer switch that will magically fix things because I don't want to commit to rewiring the whole system, even if that's ultimately what needs to happen.

  • Wif

    This is timely for me today. I'm sitting here shaking with anxiety after I got a call 20 min. ago from my child's school saying that my 9 year old is not at grade level and we need to do something about it. This is after she was diagnosed with Systemic Juvenile Arthritis last year, which led to a condition where her immune system destroyed her blood, which led to a bunch of immune supression meds, which meant that she had no immune system to fight a standard ear infection with became an abscess on her brain, which caused one of her brain arteries to block, which caused more than double the normal brain pressure. (If you couldn't follow that, the point is, she nearly died 3 times.) There's been a ton of treatment, but most notably 3 injections a day that have caused her to develop anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

    And now the school is wondering what extra things we can do to bring her up to grade level. This feels like it will never end. And she's the loveliest little thing too; I'm deeply flawed and could see myself deserving all of this, but she doesn't have a mean bone in her.

  • Return of Santitas

    As a teacher, I say: grade level schmade level. There is a time and a place for that kind of benchmark, but ultimately what is or is not "grade level" is an arbitrary designation created by educational technocrats who design curriculum and standardized tests. It is a huge industry. I hope the school deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt--that they are contacting you in a genuine attempt to get your feedback on what you think might help your daughter's learning during this very difficult time she's going through. If not: FUCK THEM. You keep your head down and take care of your own.

  • Sarah Garber

    Wif - oh, you poor thing Your daughter is only nine. If she needs to repeat a grade (or even switch schools), she has plenty of time to make it up. And I'm going to be the contrarian here - you're lucky that you have a school that picks up on this stuff, even if it feels like it's too much.

  • Take her out of school and homeschool her if you can. Grade level is garbage.

  • Jezzer

    That entirely depends on where you're from. Not every grade school is terrible just because you've had a bad experience, and homeschooling is only an ideal solution if there is absolutely no alternative, or if you yourself are an educator who doesn't care that your child is missing very important lessons in socialization and coping skills.

  • gigi5

    "-ization", "cope", look up the derivations, and the meanings. Your statement is quite ironic.

  • Jezzer

    @abbeysbooks:disqus Oh, I'd say there are more differences than just that. For example, I'm not a pretentious git who name-drops French philosophers in a woefully try-hard attempt to condescend.

    @cc6c9a7088a0d804884c3690c7f55209:disqus No, my statement would only be "ironic" if the intent of my statement were the opposite of the wording. I'd suggest you look up "irony" while I'm looking up derivations and meanings (I'm not actually looking up derivations and meanings; I'm just playing along so you don't have to feel like an absolute twat).

  • The difference between us is that I have read Foucault and you have not.

  • mswas

    @8429e905cc85e2d185d2af86d5347f6f:disqus I'm sure she is the loveliest little thing - just like you. Sending you big big hugs. i don't want to put a big discussion of it in here, but reply back if you want to blow off some steam to a complete stranger and we can figure out how to connect.

  • Chickadee

    My kid missed 2nd grade due to illness and it wasn't an issue for third grade. Her health comes first and the rest is just bonus. Thank them for their effort and consider requesting an iep. It aged me years in a matter of minutes during one life threatening episode for my kid so my heart goes out to you.

  • BierceAmbrose

    To start ...

    - Deal with what's important first, which is your kid,

    - Listen to the right people, who ain't bureaucrats of any flavor,

    - Do what you can with what you got, and

    - Give yourself some credit.

    It sounds like you are doing the right stuff pretty well. We don't control the whole world. Sometimes - as in always - the game is how to best ride the waves, because it ain't our ocean. (I'll spare you the rant about doing this alone and the devastating, degenerating effect of government and policy as a substitute for community & living virtues, and yes I know that last phrase is usually code for turning everywhere into Footloose-town. Let's take back the phrase, shall we?)

    If it helps, I missed most of 2nd grade with health stuff similar to your child's. While the report card which I found a couple months back officiously evaluated me as behind, inconsistent and disengaged, throughout the year, the last quarter noted that I was doing fine now that I wasn't freaking nearly dying.

    These people have no perspective at all. Start with that.

  • Ashley Holland King

    I can't believe that I would ever agree with this phrase, "This modern tale of moderate failure is actually what rock bottom felt like for an entire generation of unsuccessful girls who stupidly agreed to get liberal arts educations." Without liberal arts educations, what would the world become?? A bunch of corporate douchebag zombie businessmen and Republicans roaming the earth.

  • Melissa Doucette

    I am getting sick and tired of people crapping indiscriminately on
    Liberal Arts education - it is not your degree's fault that jobs are
    scarce. I have a liberal arts degree - BA and MA, as it happens. NO degree is a magical fairy ticket to the land of milk and honey; you have to work for it. I did lots of things with my degree, had some great jobs, made some good money, and did things I felt were worthwhile. This happened because I MADE it happen. I pounded the pavement, I looked jobs available, and I parlayed the very real skills I developed and honed while earning my Liberal Arts degree into employment that mattered.

    Do people really think if you have a degree in Biology or Physics that you automatically get the key to the executive bathroom? Because that's the ticket to all life has to offer? Really? Really LOOK through the jobs section next time and see what they ask for. My education taught me how to be a critical thinker, how to problem solve, and gave me excellent communication skills. And that was a waste, was it? I think not. I'm not sure when we started privileging technical degrees above all else, or why. All education has merit, and all education has a place in this world. Life has to be worth living, after all.

  • BierceAmbrose

    This.

    This. This. This. This. This.

    And at one time there was this idea that a "liberal arts education" meant exactly that - critical thinking, problem solving, communications. At one time people who pursued mere "trade" degrees were looked down upon for lacking this training and perspective.

    (Do not get me started on the parades of barely trade-schooled CS grads with "bachelors degrees." When did higher education become job training for the cannon fodder stoking massive, rich, rapacious tech empires?)

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    This. This a million times over.

  • U are OK 4 me!

  • Puddin

    Or, you know...gainfully employed, productive members of society without a crushing sense of self-righteousness and entitlement who bemoan the fact that one of their own got a 3 bajillion dollar book deal because they deserved it more because they have suffered soooooo much for their aaaart.

    Liberal arts education, for the most part, is a hideously expensive circle jerk. Signed, a BFA in Theatre

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    Teachers, historians, musicians, librarians, psychologists, editors, writers, social workers. actors, directors, journalists, anthropologists, and a million other careers.

    Spare me the woe-is-me liberal arts bullshit that people keep bemoaning. There are tons of critically important, valid and useful liberal arts degrees out there. If you didn't succeed in yours, don't blame the program as a whole. And just because a small (though prominent) subset are entitled whiners, doesn't mean you get to paint the rest with the same broad brush.

  • mb

    The degree for social work is a BSW (although the minimum for employment in most fields is swiftly turning to MSW), not a BA.

  • nosio

    Eh, I don't personally know any early 20's anthropologists, historians, librarians, psychologists, directors, and journalists.

    I DO know a lot of customer service reps, administrative assistants, waitresses, bartenders, proofreaders, part-time teaching assistants, baristas, and people who have gone back to school to defer their loans for the time being and hopefully find success after they've gotten a law or master's degree. Some of these people are also trying to pursue a career in the arts (to some degree) on the side.

    The truth is that student loan debt is at an all time high, and there simply aren't enough paying positions for many graduates, with or without liberal arts degrees. It sucks. Personally, it's hard not to look back on my undergrad career and wish I had majored in something a bit more marketable, such as technology, finance, or science, rather than English and philosophy, as I don't feel like I'm enriching society in my current position, and I'm hovering around the poverty line.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    Eh, I don't personally know any early 20's anthropologists, historians, librarians, psychologists, directors, and journalists.

    Nor should you.

    I mean this with the utmost respect and absolutely no offense intended, but sometimes I feel like there's an excess of expectation about what your professional life will be like after graduating. I worked through a series of shit jobs and lived in shitty apartments and made shit money for several years after I graduated.
    That's just what happens frequently. It's not necessarily about liberal arts, it's about lack of experience. Unless you're in a specific field - be it plumbing or biochemistry, something that geared you towards a specific career - you're probably going to end up broke and unsatisfied for a few years. It sucks, but it's true. It doesn't mean your dreams have been crushed forever, it just means that it's going to take time to get to the place you want to be.
    That any college grad gets out and expects to find their dream job within the first five to seven years is a little insane, if you ask me. I love my job (no, really), but it took me more than 15 years to get here.

  • Mara

    Except that didn't used to be true. Yes, you'd still be poor, but you'd likely be in the bottom rungs of the field you were interested in, i.e. anthropology grad student, junior historian at a local historical society, film assistant or a reporter for a shitty, tiny local paper. Now it's extremely difficult to even break into your field, much less get employed, even at a very low rate.

  • Idle Primate

    i thought part of the point was far more grads are cranked out then there will ever be degree requiring jobs. its a crime the way an entire generation was told they needed to go to university to succeed(where i am from, trades were shunned so were applied colleges). we were all told to go to university. there just isnt enough demand for people. I'm 40. a hella lot people i know are underemployed or unemployed.

    nobody i know even dreams of a dream job. they dream either of a living wage, or at least enough to keep up with their student debts. and a lot of us are not achieving even that dream.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    Well. OK then. So, I agree with both of you. In a Pajiba comment section. This is weird. It's never happened before. I'm sort of unsure where to go from here.

    I'm scared.

  • nosio

    Oh, no offense taken whatsoever. I recognize that there are few people my age with those positions because they do require years of experience and higher degrees, and I certainly never expected to find my dream job at my age; in fact, I don't even know what my dream job looks like in a realistic setting. I don't know that there's ever been a time in which a liberal arts degree has been in high demand, so the you're-probably-going-to-struggle-a-lot-before-you're-successful thing was always a given. And I accepted it, my peers accepted it, and we went ahead and started our college careers as English, history, language, theater, music, creative writing, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, etc, majors.

    But the fact remains, however, that college tuition has risen about 1,120% in the past 30 years. Conversely, job opportunities for recent graduates - and for everyone, really - has been in decline since 2008. So it's sort of a rough market to just have entered, and if you've got loans for a degree you're not using and might never use, it's hard not to feel doubly fucked. I loved college, and I'm glad I know how to read and write and think critically, but I probably could have gotten all of that in a different field of study. And I know a lot of people my age feel the same way.

    I think the way education is funded in this country needs to change as a whole, and until it does, people are going to have these weird distinctions between what constitutes a valuable degree vs. a useless one. All degrees should be valuable, and liberal arts careers DO have an important place, but the current system/program is one that punishes those graduates, and it's a bad place to be.

  • Puddin

    Actually (humble brag alert), I'm quite successful in my career. And I absolutely believe that historians, musicians, teachers, etc. fill a vitally important role in society. I also know that for every dedicated BA grad, there are twenty who got their degrees and realized that, sorry, the world doent give a damn about your viewpoint and artistic integrity doesnt necessarily lead to fiscal success. So now there is this whole generation of people who work useless, administrative jobs that have crushing debt because they were fed a line of bullshit about the power of a liberal arts degree. Its a damn tragedy.

    I'm sick of degrees in the humanities being lauded as something that should be revered, especially when its at the expense of other professions which have been marginalized over the past thirty years. We tell our kids they are too good to be electricians, plumbers, etc., even though those can be some of the best careers out there.

    True story--this guy I went to high school determined early on that he would be an electrician. Went to trade school right out of high school, started his own business at twenty, and now runs an awesome business that employs a dozen people, makes a great living, and has tons of free time, which he uses to show his sculptures at shows around the Midwest.

    I'm all for the liberal arts education. What I'm not for is this line of bullshit that an overvalued degree is the only way to go about it.

  • Sarah Garber

    The school has much, much more to do with employability than the major. If you have a degree in history from Williams, you're going to be just fine. We don't all need to run and be marketing majors.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    I would tentatively agree, with one caveat - the school matters for the first, maybe second job out of college, after which the school and things like GPA are irrelevant compared to practical experience.

  • I agree with you and I have a bunch of them.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    Ah, ok. Then perhaps I misunderstood or misinterpreted your comment. I'm sort of at the other end - I usually hear people constantly trashing liberal arts degrees rather than lauding them, and thus I took a bit of umbrage at your comment.

    It sounds like we're both in agreement that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, it's just that the gripes we deal with are from opposite ends of the spectrum. I think that it's perfectly acceptable to get a liberal arts degree as long as you approach it with a certain degree of realistic expectation.

    And believe me, after what I just spent on getting my hot water heater repaired, I'm going to do my damndest (and I'm being absolutely serious) to encourage my kids to go to trade school. Because DAMN.

  • You don't take a lib arts degree as a way to earn money and have a job. It is a degree for the leisure classes traditionally. And perfectly wonderful, jut find a way to support yourself while you continue it for the rest of your life. It will take you many places. You can always go to Asia and teach English.

  • Horvath

    That's the dumbest (and most obnoxious) comment we've had so far. So congrats for that, I guess.

  • Is that a fact.

  • Blarg

    I love you for this. Right there with you and
    yes it will get better. Out of Africa note... its Denmark love, she is Danish.
    Just a thought, my brilliant beautiful goddess, change it before any of
    these pedantic douche-bags hassle you.

  • And your Scarlett is Linda Darnell who was going to do it before they got Vivian Leigh.

  • Stacey Bryan

    Oh you poor thing...

    I have been damn near at rock bottom myself and it took longer to get out of than I care to recall. On the upside, things got a lot better very slowly but now instead of all the things sucking, only half the things suck which is much more manageable on a day to day basis. I would like to say I stayed positive and kept my head up, but I did neither of those things. Mainly I just got high and watched a lot of TV which helped much more than being positive ever has but I may be biased.

    Also, I did not know there was a more depressing movie than Requiem for a Dream. For some reason that makes me feel more optimistic about life...

  • What's that thing Vonnegut said? 'Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer: Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much
    as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most
    people do not care about them. You are not alone.'
    I'm in a similar place, Amanda. If your resistance to life's shit is as good as your list compilation skills then you have nowt to worry about; it'll be alright in the end.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well said, and very true.

    Best to you, sometime sparring partner.

  • And to you, worthwhile nemesis. Also, zeke is very drunk, but the sentiment rings true nonetheless.

  • $27019454

    I, too, am in a very rocky, hard, and stony place. I daily remind myself to count my blessings and it really is one of the only things that is keeping me afloat. And some of these movies ring sorta-kinda true to me. But I must take exception to Bridesmaids. I finally watched this over the weekend, despite my deep feeling that I would not like it -- the trailer was repugnant and films claiming to be about female friendships invariably leave me feeling enraged that no one gets it right (according to me). This is NOT the movie to make anyone feel better about anything. That protagonist is not a very nice person in the least. Her "friends" (most of them) are NOT friendly. Her best friend is wretched, and none of these women (except maybe her mother) is likeable enough to care about. Just awful.

    However, Scarlett O'Hara can always make me feel better. Despite the vociferous people who claim she was a spoiled brat, I like to see her as a spoiled brat who saved every single person on that farm. NONE of them would even be alive if not for her.

    She reminds me that I can do this. How bad can it be if I've still got whatever my version of Tara is?

  • BooWho

    When I saw Bridesmaids (as one of a group of bridesmaids), I was in such a similar spot to Wiig's character that it had me on the verge of tears. I was glad the theater was dark, because despite sitting next to some of my best friends, there was no way in hell I wanted to explain my reaction or my life's current-at-the-time unhappiness to them. Sometimes when life sucks and you feel like a failure, you come up with strange and stupid coping mechanisms. Sometimes the people you rely on fail you. Sometimes people don't help you because you don't ask for help, or you push them away when they try, or they're dealing with big problems of their own. I felt like Wiig nailed a couple of these truths. Sometimes people are dumb and suck. All characters can't be admirable all the time.
    That said, my life did get better - it's not perfect, there're still problems to deal with, but I could get through Bridesmaids again without crying. So hold on to hope, Amanda. It doesn't last forever.

  • Natallica

    Damn true. I watched "Bridesmaids" and never found myself rooting for Kristen Wiig's character, she was mean and vapid. I almost cheered when the adorable cop rejected her stupid cake, she sooo deserved it.

    Oh, and the movie wasn't even that funny.

  • $27019454

    Sing it.

  • Natallica
  • Lurkey Turkey

    Amen, sister. This, too, shall pass. It's always just the when........ Hugs to you.

  • Puddin

    I'm throwing in some tickles with those hugs! And I know it's a cliche, but it really is true--happiness is in the details. Find solace in the good in your life, even though finding it can be damn hard.

  • apsutter

    I actually wouldnt put Melancholia at the end of the list. Sure it sucks that the world is ending but what a way to go! If that happened you would have time to be with all the people that you love and you'd get a front row seat to the spectacularly beautiful end of the world! It was incredibly beautiful and it's not like you would suffer because you'd be crushed in a second. All in all, not a terrible way to end it all.

  • It's Melancholia NOT depression. Depression is the clinical term, the one you medicate. Many famous people in the past were melancholiacs.

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