22 Year Old Has Job, Internet Furious

lena dunham girls

Has everyone read Taylor Cotter’s piece in the Huffington Post?

More importantly, has everyone read the backlash against Taylor Cotter’s piece in the Huffington Post?

In brief: Taylor Cotter is 22. Taylor Cotter decided to take a job. As an editorial assistant! She’s sort of sad she won’t be all plucky and travel the world and, I don’t know, cocktail waitress with an eyepatch on one eye (it was kind of fun, okay?).

Look, I am going to admit that when I read the first sentence of Taylor Cotter’s piece – “like most female journalists, I assume, I only grew up with two real inspirations in my life: Carrie Bradshaw and Harriet the Spy” – my first impulse was to leap on that sentence like Liam Neeson would on a wolf, or the entire criminal underground. It is pretty tempting to strap some mini-bottles on your fingers and just tear that apart, because female journalists should only have one inspiration, and it should be Dorothy Parker, discussion over.


Well, shouldn’t we be pleased that 22 year olds are landing jobs, and not furious at them for daring to wonder what it would be like not to? I can cite a hundred articles that gleefully point out that all millenials are living in their parents basements. It’s not surprising that Taylor anticipated a few years of struggling to find employment. Girls is an entire television show dedicated to that notion.

But she did not have to! This girl got a job! Good for her! And now we’re upset because she’s curious about what it would have been like to struggle for a while?

Taylor notes:

Now, two months after graduation, I seem to be one of just a handful of people that’s been able to get themselves on their feet, pay their own bills and actually put together some semblance of an adult life with minimal parental assistance. I bought a car, found an apartment and set up a 401k, just six months after turning 22. I came down on the ‘right’ side of every statistic — I found a job in my field that actually pays well, I’m living on my own, and seem to have everything that these other college graduates are dying to have.

But what about that 10-cents-a-word life that I always wanted? What about New York City? What about freelancing, penning newspaper columns and urban adventures? What about the struggles that I see on Girls and the tales of credit card debt and ramen noodle dinners? Aren’t these the things that really make you 22?

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    • Maggie

      My life is the definition of stable: I’m 23, university graduate, have my own car & apartment, pay my own bills, and was lucky enough to be hired as a full-time office manager right out of school. I worked my ass off to be where I am, yet I understand where Taylor is coming from. I think the early-20′s, post-collegiate phase has been romanticized in a way that we, especially young women, feel that we should be off having some kind of grand life experience, and if we aren’t, we’re missing out. Sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on anything by settling down so soon, because my transition from student life to adulthood was immediate. So far, being a grownup is pretty great, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, but I understand why Taylor feels that way; it’s a fear of selling yourself short and not wanting to look back in forty years and wonder what could have been.

      • Dawn

        I think you’ve expressed it very well, Maggie. One thing I’ve realized as I get older (33!) is that adventure and experience doesn’t stop at a certain age unless you let it.

        When I was in Turkey this spring, I met this awesome couple in their 50s, who had gone to school, gotten married young, had kids, worked their careers in the US, and the moment their youngest graduated high school, they picked up and moved overseas. They were both teaching English – first in Venzuela, then in a few years in Thailand, and now in Saudi Arabia. Loving every minute of it. They’re not back in the US for their kids to move in with again, and they’re okay with that. I similarly met this woman of a similar age in UAE, who after her divorce had decided to teach overseas – she’d been in Abu Dhabi 5 years, and had no regrets about the jump. I also have this amazing colleague who took six months off, in her 40s, to backpack around Europe and Southeast Asia – staying in hostels, meeting other travellers, living on a shoestring budget, having possibly ill-advised hook ups with men she met along the way.

        It has been reassuring in many respects.

      • Kayt

        Agreed. At 23 (now 25), I graduated from college, got a stable job, an apartment, a dog,3 cats, bills, and a husband. I look at my friends though and it’s a completely different story. My transition from college to adult-life works for me. I love my life. But there are definitely times I catch myself wondering what their lives are like. Pretty sure that’s just life though — Don’t you always wonder what’s on the other side?

      • Vickie

        I cannot agree more, even with her article. I’m also 23 and although when I graduated I got a full time paid internship which has now led to a job with the company….but I still want all of those grand experiences, i.e. traveling the world and falling in love with everything. It is definitely hard to see past this desk I’m at right now, but hopefully (because of my job) I can save up enough to live that typical early 20′s life. I’ll keep dreaming

    • Lindsey

      “young women do need to stop modeling their lives off of HBO shows”

      Fuck you Jennifer Wright I WILL sit on the iron throne I will show you

      • Jennifer Wright


      • Tania

        This comment made me laugh. So much.

    • Amanda Chatel

      I’m Hannah meets Carrie, sprinkled with bit of Ray Hueston (Bored to Death), a whole pile of Chris Keller (Oz), and of course some personality traits from a corpse on Six Feet Under.

    • alexandra

      I agree with Taylor (and Maggie, below– hi!). Criticize her writing all you like, but when you work at a 9-to-5 as a young woman right now (just turned 22 last month; have been at my job for a year), you start to get this feeling from the hairpin, the gloss, and HuffPo that everybody else is broke and drunk in New York and even though they complain about it heartily, they all chose to be there. But of course, they didn’t– they were hoping to be glamorous, employed, and drunk in New York. The grass is always greener, of course, but on top of that there’s a feeling of wasted youth that you get when twenty-six-year-olds are brandishing their tales of youthful ignorance all over the internet. “When I was 22, I had this life-changing adventure!”

      I also think that writers especially tend to worry that they are not getting those gritty life experiences that make for great work later– that’s why people love Chatel’s Hemingway quote. It is, of course, an illusion: life lessons are just as tough in Idaho or Texas. It’s hard to see that from your desk, though.

      For the record: judge away, but I am leaving my stable job and 401k for a dream and a place I love (not writing in New York, though). I dunno, everyone makes decisions. (great conclusion, I know. I’ll be here all week)

      • alexandra

        PS I think the headline of this article is actually the funniest and most accurate comment on the whole issue.

    • RB

      I don’t generally comment, but I *had* to add to this discussion. Like many of the previous commenters, I am a young adult (23 years old) with a steady job, car, apartment, etc., and I get the feeling from websites, TV shows, movies, music, and even other friends in their early 20s that I have somehow traded in all of my great story-making, adventure-having years. Maybe I’m awful, but it’s actually really comforting to hear so many other young women saying they’re in the same awkward position I am in. I feel comfortable with the decisions I’ve made, but I still have those doubts…

    • Sabrina

      I’m 25 now, but right after college I became a “grown up.” Meaning I moved cities, found a full time job that I still love, have benefits, have health insurance, bought a car, pay for my apartment, moved in with my boyfriend, started a savings account, pay back my student loans, yadda yadda yadda. In college, I was your typical broke student. I had school full time, a dumb retail job full time and an internship full time and I lived off of $50 a month sometimes. But you know what, in college, I had some of the craziest, drunkest, most insane times ever. And today, I have some of the craziest, drunkest, most insane times ever. In college, I had to eat mac and cheese a lot. Today, I have to eat mac and cheese a lot (although I have upgraded to the spongebob version, it is so much better). In college, I went on crazy out of town adventures and even spent a month in Europe. In the last two weeks, I’ve been to two opposite ends of my state and even out of the country for the weekend! You can still have those crazy adventurous times no matter if you have a stable job or not, you just have to make the time for it.

    • len132

      I’m just another person who can relate. I wanted to join the Peace Core after college, but I did the math, and it would put me finishing my doctorate at 32. That doesn’t sound too bad, but then add a post doc fellowship of 2-7 years- I wouldn’t even be able to look for my dream research job until I was 39. It could be done, but I just don’t want to wait that long.

    • Jennifer

      I didn’t *choose* to model my life after an HBO show, but it pretty closely resembles both “Carnivale” and “Six Feet Under.” I’m a 25 year-old with a relatively steady job, the ability to pay my bills, and my own car. I don’t live with my parents and I own a lovely cat named Leicester. I have been employed regularly for several many (that’s a real measurement–look it up) years, but I made sure I did exactly what I wanted to do in the weirdest ways possible. I am a side show performer, actor, and mortician. It took a lot of training to be able to do all of these things, and, because I set my mind to it, I get to do the things I love without worrying that I’m missing out on the “early 20′s experience.” I also realize how extraordinarily lucky I am that I can stomach embalming people and (literally stomach) swallowing swords. If journalism/early marriage/9-5 jobs/etc. is where you end up in your 20′s, you should be grateful for the opportunity not to starve to death. There is ALWAYS a way to have those weird adventures. We DO have the choice to eat ramen every night even if we can afford steak. Life is what you make of it (for those of us who are lucky enough to live in the first world and have a source of income, anyway).

    • Jamie Peck

      No, no, no. The internet just ate my comment, but basically:

      Fuck anyone who romanticizes being poor. They have clearly never been poor, or been friends with anyone who has been poor. There are a million people who would like to trade places with her if she’s so curious about what it’s like.

      And fuck anyone who romanticizes that “poor, but not really, because parents” phase of life that is pretty much the #1 best way to guarantee that everyone in the country hates you.

      Someday she will grow up a little or meet some actual poor people and realize how horridly naive this post made her sound.

    • Melanie the Constant Reader

      If she doesn’t want this job, I’ll take it off her hands for her. I mean, if she’s THAT depressed about it, I feel like it’s my duty to assume her burden of a cool job and stable income.


    • Maggie

      As much as I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like her personally because of her idolizing Carrie Bradshaw as a “journalist,” I see some of where she’s coming from. I don’t think she’s romanticizing the poor per se, except when she talks about Girls, and we should blame HBO for that one. She talks about wondering what it’d be like to be working a part-time job and living at home.

      For that, I can’t blame her. I just turned 23, I’m the youngest in my group of friends from back home, and I’m the only one who works full-time. I work a full-time job and do some freelance work on the side, so my income is incredibly stable for someone who just graduated a year ago. 99 percent of the time, I’m very thankful for that, because although I worked hard to get where I am, I know there are some critical moments where luck fell my way.

      (I interned for a magazine in the UK that was launching a US version as I was graduating, and my friend who works in a coffee shop got word from one of her regulars about a PR position opening. I was qualified for the jobs because of my work, but it was sheer luck that I had opportunities.)

      But then there’s this 1 percent of the time where I’m exhausted from working 45-50 hours a week, working on weekends, working all the time, thinking about bills, thinking about how long it’s going to be till I pay off my student loans, retirement, everything, and I hear from my friends and the fun their having together back home (doesn’t help that I’m a plane ride away from home right now either). Their parents are taking care of them because they can’t find full-time work, and for a second I wish I could have had maybe just six months or a year more of time to just fuck around honestly. But when I think about that for more than five minutes, I realize how depressed I probably would have felt, too, not working and living at home. It’s more of a daydream that gets tied to homesickness that I snap out of really quickly.

      SO I see where her thoughts are coming from, but don’t think we’d ever chill because of her idolization of Carrie Bradshaw and because she thought about it long enough to think it merited writing for the whole world as a legitimate complaint. But I guess I can sort of see where she’s coming from.

    • Blue

      Ya’ll are so cool with your full time jobs and money and apartments it’s making me sick. Let it be known I don’t have any of these things. Seriously, no one who is still working as a barista after college is happy about it, so count your blessings. You’re not missing out on anything.

    • ghmnj