“The problem is I’m underqualified for everything,” Elias said. He continued clicking his way through the job listings, his eyes scanning them without really processing. They all looked the same at this point.

“Underqualified?” Rashmi said. His voice cut out a few times, courtesy of his cheap microphone. “You have a fracking PhD.”

“Formal education doesn’t mean what it used to,” Elias said. “It’s the intangibles. Every job that looks interesting is looking for a ‘passionate self-starter’ who wants to ‘hit the ground running’ and ‘innovate with big ideas’.” In frustration, he closed down the browser tab and went back to mindlessly surfing Reddit. “Does any of that sound like me?”

“Well, sure, I mean.. there are things that…” Rashmi stammered. Elias’s best friend knew him too well to prevaricate. It wouldn’t mean anything.

“Exactly,” Elias said. “I don’t love what I do. It’s kinda interesting. I’m good at it. I’d gladly get paid to do it. But there’s not an ounce of passion in me for it. I’m never going to rise to the top and lead the pack. I don’t want to. I just want to make a living.”

“They always say you’re supposed to do what your passionate about, right?” Rashmi said. “Maybe you just need to change gears. You’re not locked into your major, right? So why not -”

“That’s the thing,” Elias interrupted. “I’m not passionate about… well, anything. Given the choice, I’d not work and just muck about most of my life. Practically speaking, though, I need a job to pay for the ability to muck about with the little free time I get.”

“That… that kinda sucks,” Rashmi admitted.

“Don’t I know it.”

The room went silent for a long time, save for the sounds of a mouse dragging and clicking.