June 15, 2009 4:30 PM   Subscribe

i am almost 30 and I have no future! help me convince myself I am wrong.

No job. No boy. Six months and I am thirty. I am happy for my friends who are moving forward and yet I wonder, what the heck is so wrong with me that I cannot. I've asked people who know me, so it isn't something so obvious. I guess part of me feels like things ought to pick up again (I mean, I had a job once and a boy), but I can't help but feel like I am doomed.

How do you believe it will all be okay again? I am certainly not the sort who believes in God or "a plan" and I have found shrinks beyond useless. (So you know, I hear that advice but I don't need to see it reiterated.) Likewise, the whole "think about the people who are worse off" doesn't work. Seriously, I know it makes me an asshole, but I don't care. I care about how I feel, and the compairison doesn't work. That someone is worse off doesn't cheer me.

So: I need to believe that given time I will be okay, like most people I know and I am not specially marked for doom. How?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Seriously, I know it makes me an asshole, but I don't care.

This is why you don't have a job or a boy. You need to start caring about the world around you and the other people that live in it. Not caring about others is a recipe for lifelong misery.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:33 PM on June 15, 2009 [6 favorites]

I am certainly not the sort who believes in God or "a plan"
I need to believe ... I am not specially marked for doom.

Well, with no God and no fate, you cannot be specially marked for doom. No blessings mean no curses. It's all in your hands, which you can either allow to make you feel down, or you can accept what agency you have and be the one responsible for your "plan."
posted by Bookhouse at 4:36 PM on June 15, 2009 [7 favorites]

It's never all OK.

The good bits are definitely worth sticking around for, though.

And seriously, work on your empathy - not because knowing that somebody else is suffering will make you suffer any the less, but because working on your empathy is something that you can do for you to make you less likely to beat yourself up for being that asshole.
posted by flabdablet at 4:44 PM on June 15, 2009

“Choose to be optimistic. It feels better.” — The Dalai Lama

When we wake up each morning, we have a choice. We can decide that life sucks, that everything is a conspiracy, that no matter what we do nothing will come to us. In other words, we can wake up and be the grouchiest pessimist going. Alternately, when we wake up, we have the chance to realize how great it is that our eyes can see, that we are breathing, that we can walk to the bathroom, that a brand new day lies before us with all its promise and opportunity.

You have that choice each and every morning. How you use that choice is up to you.
posted by netbros at 4:45 PM on June 15, 2009 [28 favorites]

No one can make you care about or believe anything. And nobody wants to. They've got their own business to worry about. Your situation bothers you, though, so start doing something about it. You're the only one who can. Instead of posting to AskMe, for example, you could be posting your resume to a job site. Instead of looking for ways to feel better about yourself, look for ways you can make someone else feel better. I know, I know. You don't care. But think of it as keeping yourself occupied and eventually you might learn to care. It's also a good way to meet people. Instead of going to shrinks who aren't helping you anyway (and are you sure about that?) go and do something. Anything. It's a stepping stone to finding a purpose in your life regardless of age.
posted by katillathehun at 4:46 PM on June 15, 2009 [4 favorites]

Sans boy and job you've basically got too much time on your hands. Find something interesting to do. What you're feeling is not special in the least, and nothing anyone here says can make it go away. The best you can hope (and this is no small thing) is to distract yourself from it. Find something better to think about. Or make. I find that being even a little creative makes me deeply happy.

Since you have some time, try making a really strict schedule for one day. Fill it with really fabulous things to read, cook, research, see, visit, experience... and, even if you're not feeling it, stick to it. All day. See how you feel at the end of it. Try writing about it.
posted by cymru_j at 4:49 PM on June 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Because you are a human being and you have an instinct built into you to survive and recover from adversity. Our ancestors faced sabre-toothed cats, floods, volcanoes, war, all of it--they recovered because they had tremendous emotional resources. Evolution will do that to you.

Evidence you say? You asked this question--you are dimly aware of those recovery forces even now--reaching out because you sense what I am pointing out is true on one level or another.

How to activate it? Keep trying to improve your lot and trust that those resources are gonna show themselves like they did when you asked this question.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:51 PM on June 15, 2009

I guess part of me feels like things ought to pick up again (I mean, I had a job once and a boy), but I can't help but feel like I am doomed.

Are you doing anything to make it pick up again? Because sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. I had a miserable, horrible year-ish around 29-31. I spent some time wallowing, but I also forced myself to Go Out and Do, which got me out of my head a little and exposed me to more and different people. And it made me stop thinking about the Horrible Stuff so much.

In these situations, your brain can be your own worst enemy, so try to stop (over)thinking this. Go get a volunteer gig, in or out of your field. See if you can pick up a part-time job (some kinds of retail are great!); take a class in something (dance, pottery, knitting, Ancient Rome, whatever floats your boat).

For me, it was not a question of "believing" that everything would one day turn around and be better; it was an active process of not thinking about how shitty things were and doing things to make myself feel less conscious of the bad stuff all the time. I didn't go out everyday and think "Today's the day when my life gets better!" Instead, I thought "Today, I'll go to work, and hang out with [friend]" or whatever. Small steps, without thinking too much about the big picture, because sometimes the big picture is paralyzingly overwhelming. Good luck.
posted by rtha at 4:55 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Go volunteer somewhere. It'll give you something to do, and who knows, maybe you'll meet somebody.

Do you have a plan for how you're going to get a job and a boy? If you don't, you need to get one. If you do, focus on working that day to day, and imagine how good it will feel when it pays off.

Both of those things will make you feel better about your life.
posted by willnot at 4:57 PM on June 15, 2009

Time won't solve things.

You have to.
posted by ook at 5:05 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was filled with despair and fear at 30. At 31, I quit my job, moved halfway across the country, and got a divorce. Now, at 40, I have a satisfying career/relationship/social life and with them a sense of stability and happiness I couldn't have conceived of a decade ago.

But the thing is, none of that fell out of the sky. It didn't happen because of some cosmic plan by which "everything would be OK." It happened because I stumbled through the process of making it happen -- through a combination of trial and error, hard work, therapy, and the unconditional support of a few loved ones. There were setbacks, and pain, and fear, and loneliness. But I kept moving foward.

If you believe you have free will, then by definition you cannot be doomed. You simply have the choice -- as netbros so wisely says -- to decide how you will face every day. I can tell you from experience that optimism, empathy, good humor, and persistence will serve you infinitely better than pessimism, coldness, bitterness, and passivity in your hours (and days, and months, and years) of need.
posted by scody at 5:05 PM on June 15, 2009 [14 favorites]

You know, I was you a few tens of years ago. Completely nihilistic, I really didn't give a flying frak about anyone or anything.

What I didn't realize was how insidious the depression I was in was. Every person here has had some version of these feelings at some time in there life, and you and I are no different. Even now, as I'm facing some challenges with a recent hospitalization, and all the bills and time off work and loss of income that has caused, I'm optimistic. My mother would have called it faith, but that's not my style.

As hard as it may be to believe or how it seems, there *are* people who love you. People generally want to care for one another. Even I, cynic that I am, came to realize that, far too late in life. You have many good years ahead of you- likely as not, a bad one or two as well. Don't worry and don't obsess over them, just enjoy what you have, make plans, and carry on. When you're 55, you'll be very glad you did.
posted by pjern at 5:07 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I've been in the same situation and I've struggled mightily with it. I would say that posting to ask is a perfectly good step and it fits in to what I'm going to describe. Maybe your the kind of person who can stick to a grand schedule and fill your days with meaning and you just haven't tried yet. I doubt that you are, and that's totally ok. If you aren't what I would suggest is to take what you usually do and change it. Don't worry about better. Don't worry about whether the change will get you anywhere. Just change for it's own sake. If you sleep late just set your alarm clock. If stay indoors just leave and go outside. Write a letter. Just do some different bullshit than the bullshit that you always do. Don't worry about the new bullshit being better. Definitely don't worry about the new bullshit being the best bullshit. Just do some bullshit that is unlike your typical bullshit.

Maybe you are just unlucky. That's good because you probably won't stay unlucky. More likely you are unlucky and have unproductive patterns. You probably know what you should be doing and you probably have a most should that's too hard for you at any given moment. So do a worse should. Apply for a job that you have no chance of getting. Waste someone's time applying for a job. In my life I've taken incredible amounts of time to work up the courage to do some very ordinary things. I've had to con myself into things. I've had to dial the phone number of a girl into my phone wait half an hour and then hit talk with a pencil.

It's not easy. But if you don't like today try and somehow make tomorrow different. Don't worry about better. Better can be too loaded with a chance to go wrong. Different always works. You won't always feel doomed.
posted by I Foody at 5:18 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

You want a boy? Go out and get one! They're everywhere.

You want a job? Go out and get one! They're everywhere.

Seriously. Visualize what you want, make a plan how to get it and get crackin'.

We've ruled out sitting around feeling "doomed" & sorry for yourself as an effective plan of action, time for a new one.

Good luck!

(I believe at your age you'd have better luck getting a man instead of a boy. NTM all those odd laws about child molestation, etc.)
posted by torquemaniac at 5:31 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

That someone is worse off doesn't cheer me.

It isn't supposed to. Judgmental people say that to those who are feeling depressed and down about themselves because they think that it would make a person feel lucky. In reality is often makes a person just feel very guilty.

You need to change your patterns of thinking (in order to get doing). Good advice above regarding making a plan and outlining the steps to doing it. If you need some nonbiased help, you might look into therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy. You can even find some CBT exercises online.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:47 PM on June 15, 2009

That someone is worse off doesn't cheer me.

I totally get that one. Anne Frank said the same thing...I remember reading it in 8th grade. It always made sense to me.

Seriously, not to make too big a deal of it, but I'd stop calling men boys. You're almost 30. I always see women who call men boys as looking for prince charming rather than someone to have something long term with. Just a thought.

I think many people know where you are at because they've been there, and then after a while, they find themselves not there anymore.
posted by sully75 at 6:22 PM on June 15, 2009

This sounds like I could have written it myself a couple of years ago, when I was turning 30 with a crappy job and no boy around and no real sense that my life was ever going to be anything other than drudgery and boredom and loneliness and emotional pain and blah blah blah. I also resisted going to therapy like a cat resists taking a pill -- due to some negative experiences with therapy as a kid I was convinced that no one could ever help me and therapy was all a crock anyway, at least for my own personal situation. I knew it had helped other people I knew, but I thought I was too "broken".

From what you're saying here, it sounds like you're stuck in some negative thought patterns. Someone upthread mentioned looking up some CBT info online, and I'll second that. Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns also gets suggested a lot whenever someone shows up on the green with similar issues to yours, but for good reason -- it's the one self-help book I've ever picked up that actually did provide me with ways to help myself, especially with the negative thought patterns ("I feel like I'm doomed").

I know you said you don't want to be told that therapy would help, but look. I'm like the North American poster child for resistance to therapy, and a few months ago all my shit hit a colossal fan, and I found myself in a therapist's office scared out of my fucking wits. And you know what? I was completely, 10000% wrong about therapy being a crock. It works. You just have to find a therapist that will work well for YOU. Ask friends if they have anyone they'd recommend (which is how I found mine), check out therapists in your area via Goodtherapy.org, hell, post another anon AskMe asking for recommendations in your area.
posted by palomar at 6:59 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I agree with sully here - I think it would be helpful to stop thinking of men as "boys" and start thinking of them as "men."
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:21 PM on June 15, 2009

I have found shrinks beyond useless
This is like saying 'I have found boyfriends beyond useless.' I imagine the feeling has been mutual. What you mean, poor fucker, is: 'I haven't gotten the right shrink at the right time yet.' Sucks. Keep trying if you have the money.

Well, life is hard. Go to the gym, get some sun, join a club, look for a better job, quit smoking, blah blah blah blah blah. The usual stuff. People who know you probably won't tell you you're scared of shit, but you're probably scared of shit. Many people just shy of 30 are.

Do things. Fail upward. Life isn't anything else.
posted by waxbanks at 7:37 PM on June 15, 2009

No job. No boy. Six months and I am thirty.

That's now. That says nothing about your future.

Start by enjoying all that free time as a single twenty-something. If you can't do that, you must be depressed. Go get some pills.

Pardon my lack of empathy but, sheesh. If you don't believe that there's a plan, doesn't it follow that you have to make your own? Furthermore, it does follow that you are not entitled to happiness. If you want it, get off your ass and go get it.
posted by bricoleur at 7:48 PM on June 15, 2009

You need to get out of your comfort zone and ... uhhh, basically stop whining (sorry for the harsh words).

Do you want a job ? Then go get one. Stop worrying about how much it would pay, but whether you actually do enjoy the job or not. If there's a personality problem that hinders you from getting a job, then work on identifying and fixing it.

If you want a boyfriend, go and get one too. If there's a personality problem that hinders men from being attracted to you, then work on identifying and fixing it.

Less talk, more actions. Turning 30 is hardly old. I myself am turning 28 soon and I feel that my life potentials are just beginning to open.
posted by joewandy at 8:00 PM on June 15, 2009

Is it the turning 30 thing that's the real kicker here? I'm just wondering as I have a few friends that got all weird when they were just about to turn thirty. It's really just a number and comparing your age to that of your parents generation (as I think that's where quite a bit of this angst comes from) is silly. I'm not going to say that 30 is the new 20, but there are plenty of people who just start getting their shit together in their 30s. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and that's exactly what you should be doing.
posted by ob at 8:16 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Go back to school and start working out. It's forward momentum with actual results sooner than you think. You'll feel better about yourself right quick.

Also, people are being a little snarky on this one, dontcha think?
posted by smeater44 at 9:57 PM on June 15, 2009

Actually, nevermind the snark comment. That was for something else I was just reading. ...I should go to bed.
posted by smeater44 at 10:03 PM on June 15, 2009

Lead with action.
posted by paperzach at 10:06 PM on June 15, 2009

If you're going to wake up tomorrow morning you do have a future.

As they (Dale Carnegie specifically) say, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

So go get busy.
posted by micklaw at 10:47 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

30 is NOT old.
posted by misozaki at 11:48 PM on June 15, 2009

What do you mean, will it all "be okay again?" Was there some okay before? Look, if you're depressed, you need to get help by finding out who your health care provider is and how to make an appointment, then making an appointment, then going to the doctor.

If you're not depressed, then there's no "okay" that's different than what you're experiencing and creating. You get about 21,000 more days of this and then you die. Feel that sunshine? Smell that air? Enjoy napping? Feel nice stretching? Taste that delicious ice water? You get to feel and smell and enjoy and taste it for another 788,000 hours. And that's it. So get on it.
posted by salvia at 12:48 AM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, take a look at this post. That's what enjoying your life looks like.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:17 AM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

You know you only have no future and lose if you give up. Do you know what you want in your life and future? Make a list...then make a list of steps to attaining those goals. Don't procrastinate and start working on them today!

A few tips:

-Go to bed and get up early. Utilize the whole day!
-Exercise...even if you hate it you'll feel 1000% from the endorphins.
-Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight, when possible, a day
-Read What Color Is Your Parachute...it will go MILES towards helping you find a job!
-Get out and join a group, club or hobby!

The last few will help your self-esteem, mood and chances at meeting a significant other. If you have family/friends who are close confide in them.

You need to start forcing yourself to see the glass as half full. Pessimists whine and complain about how life isn't fair, or they didn't get this or that or are entitled to certain things in life. I'm assuming you live in the US...this country really is your oyster if you commit and dedicate yourself to working hard. You have to want it though and stick it through.

And if you truly have a bleak outlook even after trying these things you may have depression and should seek help. People rag on psychiatry but it is a science and people DO go to schools for this lol. Therapists can be a little shaky but get over the pride if you do need help.
posted by PetiePal at 9:45 AM on June 16, 2009

I need to believe that given time I will be okay, like most people I know and I am not specially marked for doom. How?

The only thing in life that you have absolute control over is your attitude - and yours needs some serious changing. There is absolutely no guarantee that you will be okay, just as there is no guarantee that you are doomed. You have as good a chance as anyone to make things better - but you have to get off your butt and start looking on the bright side. You don't have to compare yourself to someone who has less in order to be grateful for what you have. Appreciate the things that are going right in your life and go from there.

If you can't find one thing in your life to be grateful for - then I suggest you get over your opinion of therapists, because you need one.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:33 AM on June 16, 2009

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