Nicholle Ross, 29
Orange County, Calif.
Battling an alcohol problem, I quit my dead-end job at a music store to go into rehab.
As I got sober though, the bottom dropped out of the world. I had no idea at the time that I would be on a nearly four-year long stretch without stable employment, at times having to choose between gas and food.
I've sent out about 270 resumes, interviewed about 15 times, and once I was even drug tested and given a start date, only to be told later that I was overqualified for the position.
Twice, I've had employers say they wouldn't hire me because I was unemployed. It's so degrading, and the feeling of rejection becomes overwhelming. The last time I truly looked for a job was over six months ago.
Instead, I barter for goods. I taught a woman how to knit, in exchange for a cake for my dad's birthday. I clean a yoga studio two days a week, and they let me take unlimited classes there.
Even though I already have a bachelors degree, I've decided to go back to school to wait out the economy.
NEXT: Going back to school