When I attempt to create an issue I get an error message that says
"Assignee: The default assignee does NOT have ASSIGNABLE permission OR unassigned issues are turned off"
So, I messed around and have seemed to have given myself assignable permissions because then I tried to create an issue and got a dropdown menu with a list of Assignees. However, I am not able to leave that without a choice (or I get the error message again) and the team member I want to assign the issue to is not in the dropdown menu.
What is going on?
You will probably need to familiarize yourself with how JIRA handles permissions and project permissions.
If your setup is close to the default out of the box, then what the problem is, is the user you want to assign to, is NOT a member of jira-developers group.
By default this group is assigned the ability to have issues assigned to them.
If you need to get out of trouble quickley, the easiest way would be to go to the administration for your project -> Project Roles, and add the user to the Developers project role.
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