Chin up: The world is about to start kicking your ass for the very first time, and it's going to be brutal.
Oh woe is me and all that. Rationally I know that I'm in the same situation as an absurd amount of 20-somethings these days. I have an associates degree in photography from a crappy community college. That oughta get me real far. I work in a dead end job that doesn't even pay consistently, and is probably about to go bankrupt. I owe my parents a massive amount of money as they've been paying my car insurance for a little over a year now, and on top of all that I'm starting to feel the gentle nudge here and there to move the fuck out and stop being a burden. I try to make plans, budgets and all that, make ends meet, but I have abso-fucking-lutly no idea what I'm doing. I never learned how to get a "real" job in high school, fine arts classes at college never taught me how to balance a checkbook and set up online bill pay, or how to make sure the account used for online bill pay always has enough money in it. Did I make a huge mistake going to college for art? Don't get me wrong, I love photography. I'm truly happy behind my camera, or when I'm developing in the darkroom. But it just doesn't pay, and unfortunately every studio I've tried to apply to told me to come back with more experience. How do they expect me to do that when nobody will hire me? I have yet to figure it out. Should I just give up on my dreams of being an artist and work in a factory like my dad? I'm just at such a loss. I don't know what to do. I'm not prepared for this, and its horrifying me. How do I get rid of this haunting feeling that I've fucked everything up beyond repair?
You aren't old enough to have fucked everything up beyond repair, but then again, you're a whiny little bitch without an ounce of hustle, and you're going to fail at life if you don't fundamentally shift your attitude.
Your associates degree from a crappy community college isn't worth the inkjet paper it's printed on. You know it. I know it. The world knows it. No one gives a shit if you're truly happy behind a camera. No one. Photography can be your hobby, but unless you're willing to starve for half a decade, it's not going to be your career. Sorry, dude. The best case scenario for someone like you is ending up a well respected local wedding photographer, but you're going to have to seriously step up your game if you want to reach that level of mediocrity.
It's time for you to come to terms with the fact that no one is ever going to call you an artist. That's not a bad thing, really. Only assholes refer to themselves as artists, and the sooner you recognize that you're not a special snowflake, the better. Sure, it's horrifying when you suddenly realize that you aren't destined for fame or fortune, but hey, that's life in the big city.
You're an adult now, and your extended adolescence is pretty much over. Of course you're not prepared, and of course you're at a loss. That's the whole point. The world is about to start kicking your ass for the very first time, and it's going to be brutal. You're going to be miserable a lot of the time, and yes, your dreams are probably going to get crushed under the weight of a very harsh reality.
That doesn't mean you still can't have a happy life. You can, and you probably will. It won't be everything you dreamed, but I promise, in five years you'll look back and laugh at the little punk you are today. Either that or you'll want to smack yourself.
Get comfortable with the fact that your life is not going to go according to plan, and then get out there and hustle up the highest paying job you can find. If that's in a factory, so be it. Do your photography nights and weekends, start paying your own bills, and move out of your parents' house as soon as possible.
It won't be easy, but tough shit.