Feeling left behind
When I found this forum I was relieved to see I wasn't the only one going through this. Here's my deal:
I'm a 21 year old guy and I just graduated from college with a basically useless certificate. I have no real savings and I still live at home. I'm going to visit China this year to see family, and I'd like to move out in the fall, so I'm basically saving for those.
I'd like to go back to school very much, though I'm not sure what for. I've had a lot of trouble trying to decide what to do with my life, I guess I have a kind of fear of commitment. I'm afraid that I'll commit to something for several years only to find out that I'm not any good at it, or that I don't enjoy it or something.
On top of that, I've had a lot of issues with depression and anxiety over the years. Aside from a prescription for antidepressants from my GP that didn't do much, I haven't had any treatment, even though it's gotten really bad at some points. That being said, there doesn't seem to be any way I can afford therapy so I've been trying to make due.
So yeah, there's my QLC. It's been making me pretty anxious, to the extent that I can't sleep a lot of the time. I also have this feeling that the last few years were kind of pulled out from under me, since I had a pretty rough time of it emotionally, and now I feel like I'm just getting really old. 30 used to be a very distant worry, but now it seems to be coming at me pretty fast. I guess I'm only 21, but I'll be 22 later this year, then when I hope to go back to school next fall I'll almost be 23 and just starting in school on top of that. I'll potentially be in my late 20s when I finally graduate. Excuse me while I hyperventilate.
My friends don't really help. They're all finishing up their degrees, are all in serious relationships, I think my best friend may get married soon, which is terrifying. I feel like there's a widening gap, where I want to go out and meet new people and date and stuff, and all of my friends are spending more and more time with their significant others.
Anyway, that's the boat I'm in. Thanks for reading
Welcome. Feel free to jump in and start posting. This is a decent community and could use some fresh new blood.
Before you commit to something, see if you can get a taste as to what that job is like. You're only 21. This is a great time to try out different jobs you may be interested in. Volunteering and just job shadowing for a day or two are also great ways to see what a job or industry is really like. If you find out it's not something you'd like to do after all, then no big deal. It's better to know now than spending thousands of dollars and then finding out.
Originally Posted by adrift
There's nothing wrong with that. I'm 31 and back in school pursuing a degree in teaching. If it's something you really want to do, don't let the thought of how old you'll be when you graduate hold you back. So you'll be in your late 20's when you graduate? Big deal. I know it's hard for you to contemplate right now, but late 20's is still young. Good luck in whatever you decide! And welcome aboard!
Originally Posted by adrift
SS offered some great advice.
When I was in graduate school, there were many people there who were way older, in their 40's and up.
A lot of people go back to school for career changes, especially in today's economy.
There were also people there who got married and had kids young, so could only commit to go to school later in life.
As PP mentioned, you do have time. I would not commit to more school and potential debt until you have a solid idea of a career path.
I've been out of school for almost a decade, so some things have changed from when I was a new grad, esp. the economy and cost of tuition. But I did want to say welcome, and also note that that your feelings of alienation and confusion after graduation are universal. When I graduated college, I felt a lot like you – I was a couple months shy of my 22nd birthday, not sure what I wanted to do for a career quite yet, separating from friends who were either leaving the city or taking 5-6 years to graduate, having anxiety issues, and dating a guy who was so wrong for me that I'd have felt less lonely if we'd just broken up. The good news is that things do get better, but you have to be proactive about making improvements happen, and doing so is more of a marathon than a sprint.
Your instinct to avoid grad school is a good one. It's not designed to help you figure things out, or to serve as a placeholder/substitute for working an entry level job. It's most effective and provides the best ROI if used as professional training when you already have a career path. If you're stuck as to what kind of career to pursue, it may help to evaluate what kinds of things you enjoy doing in your spare time, and perhaps work with someone (friend, mentor, counselor, job shadow) to match your passions and interests with possible jobs. Once you get that figured out, it's pretty easy and quick to pick up any extra job skills you might need through community college classes or online training seminars – both of which are very inexpensive and low-commitment. My university offered no online courses when I was a student a decade ago, but nowadays, there are an incredible number of options to pick up job skills on the cheap, from any distance.
The anxiety is probably the biggest stumbling block for you right now, so getting it treated may help you get some perspective and decide how to make a move without feeling pressured or panicked. Try doing a Google search for "[your city OR county] help line" or "[your city OR county] warmline", and you will probably find a phone # you can call to find out more about mental health services in your area. Many mental-health clinics work on a sliding-scale, and someone should be able to recommend a clinic specializing in anxiety. I did not get my anxiety properly treated until I was almost 30 years old, and in my experience, it can snowball if it is let to go on. I think tackling it could be a helpful goal to set, and having a person you can lean on for support in a non-biased and confidential way will probably help a lot, too. Best wishes, and hope this year gets better for you!
"Whatever dramas are going on in my life, I always find that place inside my head where I see myself as the cleanest, tallest, strongest, wisest person that I can be." –The late, great Layne Staley
"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring." –The fabulous, one and only, David Bowie
You're still very young, but I understand your frustration since I was in the same boat at 23 upon graduation and not having support when struggling with the job search or being sure if the career path I chose was what I wanted after all. I think it's a great idea to volunteer or do something in other fields that interest you first before going back to school for sure, and if it's something you like, you can always do a 1-2 year program in college or do a masters in it instead of at the undergrad level.
I truly believe you are asking yourself the right questions and it's good you are thinking about your options from now and being realistic. I'm much closer to 30 than you and realizing I need more spice in my life and career and I'm very unstable financially and emotionally and trying to figure things out like whether I should go to school again or not and feeling like I wasted a lot of years even though I worked and did exciting things at times, I just feel sad , bitter and jaded about what didn't work out for me and have to stop doing that. While you are figuring things out, you need to find something on the side that makes you happy too and maybe see a career counsellor for guidance and maybe a counsellor in general to talk about the anxiety though not a psychiatrist at this point unless it's something intense you're not telling us about.
I wish you all the best