A dream deferred is a dream denied – 

December 11, 2020 – The shutdown of society worsened my disordered thoughts around food and body image and the aggressive advertising I’ve received for “home workouts” and “tips on staying thin in lockdown” have not helped. I’m not happy where I’m living and I’m desperately trying to find another place to live that won’t compromise me financially.

I’m 21 now and in my fourth year of studying Law and Global Studies. I want to make material changes in women’s lives while also advocating for a radical restructuring of our world and society’s perception of gender. Fortunately, I’ve witnessed, even in my short lifetime, a shift in how we discuss gender and sexuality. The relentless work of the women before me is paying off. And now it’s my turn. I’m still unsure of how I’ll make my mark. Maybe I’ll be a lawyer working for survivors of gender-based violence, a grassroots organizer or an author. Idealistically, I believe I can be all three. One day I hope I can be the woman that bold young girls can look up to and feel a sense of belonging; the kind of woman that gave me comfort and inspiration when I was a young girl, isolated in my Melbourne home with my Turkish parents who did not know how to raise a girl who was opinionated and bold.

I’ve done my rounds interning at (disturbingly underfunded) women’s rights organizations. In fact, I’ve just completed my sixth unpaid internship and I’m wondering if I’ll ever be economically independent enough to be inspiring to anyone. Cumulatively, I’ve done over a year’s worth of work for free. I’ve been told that this is what I must do if I hope to ever get a paid job. But if that logic checks out then the gap between the classes is sure to exacerbate, with only wealthier students being able to obtain well-paying jobs. After all, to do an unpaid internship you need to have the financial security to engage in it without becoming economically compromised. I guess this is why we’re all so anti-capitalist now.  Overall, this has been a very disheartening start to both my 20s and the 2020s. I hope the next few months bring some hope.

Relying on endlessly fluctuating government payments is paralysing as it’s impossible to predict when they’ll be reduced or cut and when my gigs will return. Constantly asking for parental assistance feels infantilising and undignified, particularly when your parents have also lost their jobs. Although, most young people are much worse off than me; I recently found out that my friend didn’t turn his heater on all winter because he couldn’t afford it.

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