Lacking motivation in pretty much everything...
November 6, 2010 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I am lacking motivation to push myself forward. What can I do?

Apparently, what I'm going through is something called "Peter Pan syndrome", which is the state of being stuck between the mindset of a teenager and adult. I turned 22 a little less than a month ago, and I'm still stuck in community college for at least until the summer of 2011. About a few weeks ago, I dropped the two classes I was taking for this quarter which were calculus 1B and physics 4A. I still need to take calc 1C, 1D in order to transfer, along with discrete mathematics (which I dropped twice). UC applications are here, and I'm slowly progressing through it.

I'm not sure whether it's my possible depression (haven't checked with a counselor yet), social anxiety (I'm sure I have it), or my insomnia (ever since 2003) that's causing me to lose so much energy. I used to go to the gym 6 days a week since I believe that physical well-being is important, but lately it seems like it drains even more energy from me.

Whenever I take a small nap, my mother throws a huge fit, which is really frustrating since taking a nap in my car (away from the house) is uncomfortable as hell. I was going to go to Stanford's Sleep Clinic, but I found out that I don't have health insurance since I'm not a full time student at the moment.

While I'm wasting away the next couple of months or so until winter quarter begins at the beginning of January, I was thinking about working at America's Tire, since I heard they were looking for some new employees (as their current ones come in drunk all the time). I handed them my application, but it has been weeks since I did so. Now I'm even more unmotivated to go get a part time job while I'm doing absolutely nothing.

I waste the days away with video games and watching videos on youtube. I am what sociologists call a NEET (not in education, employment, or training). I have a close friend that keeps telling me that I lack discipline and I should just force myself. But the moment I ask him what I should do during my downtime, he has nothing to offer. It's frustrating since it only seems like he's just bringing me down.

I think the biggest cause of all of this is my lack of confidence. I fear failure, so I subconsciously choose to do nothing. I suppose my horrible sleep schedule as well as my time management skills (or lack of it) could be blamed as well.

Tl;dr, I feel really pathetic. Please help.

P.S., I have no idea which category to put this in.
posted by RaDeuX to Education (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
What are some examples of things that you're worried about failing at?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:32 PM on November 6, 2010

Maybe you should try taking anti-depressants or ADD medication.
posted by delmoi at 5:35 PM on November 6, 2010

Response by poster: @esprit: Examples? I've failed at a bunch of things. I failed at getting a scholarship from track and field. I was also training for boxing for more than a year, but I never got to the point where I could compete (I had too much muscle mass and couldn't cut enough weight). And then there's the constant failures from social interactions. Sure they don't mean much to anyone else, but I find it kind of painful from an emotional aspect.

@delmoi: I prefer not to take medication, but I'll keep that under consideration.
posted by RaDeuX at 5:59 PM on November 6, 2010

You can volunteer. It will get you out of the house and give you a constructive way to structure your time. You'll work through this; keep working at it!
posted by aniola at 6:07 PM on November 6, 2010

Response by poster: @aniola: Holy crap, that's an awesome idea! I'll go see what's out there.
posted by RaDeuX at 6:11 PM on November 6, 2010

Failed social interactions are hard on everyone, and I think that's healthy. Just like anything, going through your failure is part of improving.

I know how the fear of failure can be paralyzing, but I want to warn you: As you get older, you're going to realize all the opportunities that you had and didn't take, and missed opportunity feels worse than failure. You have to learn to take risks...

My belief is that courage to act comes from desire. Ask yourself what you want. Don't worry about realism; just brainstorm. Be ambitious.

On preview, you want to volunteer. Great.

Keep asking yourself what you want. One of the difficulties with being college-age is that many of the goals you have in mind were handed to you by your parents, and so they have no personal emotional relevance. As you discover the contents of your heart and get into habit of following your dreams, your complaint won't be lethargy. It will be not enough time.

Good luck!
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:40 PM on November 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I read something about failure that really stuck with me and helped change the way I look at it. Basically it was that failure means you gave it a shot, that even people who succeed usually fail many times first and at the end of life, it's wondering about the things you never even tried to do that bother you more than any failures.

Give yourself some credit for working so hard at track and boxing. It didn't work out the way you wanted but you gave it your best. It really hurts to want to be able to do something and not have it work out but it's part of life. Part of doing well is to keep trying things until you find that something that works out.

Right now it seems like you're beating up on yourself but all it's doing is making you feel bad. Not getting called for an interview after putting in an app happens to everyone, especially for low end jobs. I had a friend who was an Asst. Mgr. at a fast food place. She never called right after getting an app but always waited to see who would come back in to check if the job had been filled. She said the people who came back were the ones who cared enough to actually show up every day and not be flaky. Try checking back in. It doesn't guarantee you'll get the job but it ups your odds.

You are trying to figure out how to make your life better so good for you. Can you still go to your classes since you already paid for them? It would make it easier when you have to retake them if you already know some of the material. To help with the social anxiety, you could see a counselor or get books from the library on that and people skills. You seem to excited about volunteering which is a great way to help others and meet people. You have to take action to make your life what you want. I think you're willing to do that. Just keep trying and remember, you're going to fail sometimes before you succeed.
posted by stray thoughts at 12:20 AM on November 7, 2010

Well I think you asked one of the most important questions ever. I always think about motivation every day.

With the right motivation, people can do amazing things.

Boxing and track were goals for you but even if you didn't join those ranks its ok because you're in awesome health - that's worth a million bucks. Be thankful for your great health.

Maybe sports isn't your path in life and there might be more rewarding things.

So you dropped calculus/physics. Ok, maybe that isn't your thing either and to be honest those aren't courses everyone can do anyways.

The key things in my opinion (having gone through lots of similar things like being a youtube junkie and wallowing, etc) is to find the right TECHNIQUES that work for you for a given problem.

And to be honest, depending on what you watch on youtube, its not a complete waste of time. There's lots of crap content but also quality content (courses, famous interviews with people, awesome music, etc.). So don't feel too guilty.

So this is simplistic I know but here is a Problem/Solution approach:

Sitting at youtube for too many hours.

Make a schedule first thing in the morning. Install calendar software on your computer so that you get a popop when you are supposed to do something. Do your schedule: Exercise, eat, apply to jobs, study, youtube, eat, study, youtube, go out, sleep.

Sleeping problem.

Read whatever you can about your sleeping disorder and get more info from the docs. Sleeping is really important. Do you realize how many hours Lance Armstrong sleeps before races? Get the right sleep so your brain can recharge. I would take sleeping to be one of your highest priorities, even if you have to nap. Get info from the web and pass it along to your mom about why you may need that nap.

Not working out.

Even if you don't work out, be at the gym everyday. Seriously. The habit will grow and you will be there and do a little something. Eventually it will grow back to a full workout. Don't go all out at the beginning. Just be there everyday. Worked for me. I feel weird not going to the gym now.

Relationship skills suck.

Start reading books about relationships - you won't regret it. Start slowly interacting with people.

You're damn young so you have lots of time to figure out the techniques that work for you. Experiment, etc.

If something isn't working, don't do the same darn thing over and over again and expect results.

Try and experiment different things. Go out more, or talk more to your friends, family (or less) or try dating someone, etc.

I wish you luck. I wish every guy/girl had a 'mentor' while growing up.

I wonder if you have a good relationship with your dad? It seems guys kind of grow up 'alone' and have to find their way by themselves.

I'm assuming you're a guy of course. If you're female, my apologies.

Let us know how you are doing. I'll check back here.
posted by simpleton at 9:56 AM on November 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

You should see if there are any free classes on job hunting in your area (usually run by the same place where you collect unemployment when eligible). Just submitting a single application and not following up gets you exactly nowhere, especially in the current job market. They can teach you how to make a resume, what to fill in on forms in cases where you aren't sure, how to follow up, and interviewing skills. Remember that companies often don't hire because the position got cut to fit their budget after they posted it, they had to post it for legal reasons but Fred was the person they wanted to hire all along so you didn't stand a chance, they hired a friend or family member desperately in need of a job instead, they think you'd be too bored, they think you are overqualified or under-qualified etc etc - so never take it personally! Being professional when rejected means they will think of you when another job or more suitable position opens up.

I think you should finish college, but might need to just finish up your current classes then put things on hold and get a job and then start classes again when you have your own place. You can cheaply rent a room in a house to keep your expenses down. You can go pretty damn cheap if you're willing to not leave valuables in your room. Also - you definitely want month-to-month only, never get tricked into a long lease for a room.

Things to not do until you have a steady income and apartment/house:
- Getting pets - pets should have space, good food, and you should be able to pay vet bills
- Having kids - not always a choice, but definitely easier after you are established
- Collecting things - eats up your cash, takes up space, makes it hard to move
- Buying the latest tech - you can wait a little then pick it up much cheaper or just be unfashionable for a while
- Eating out - this eats up money fast, try figure out something healthy and cheap

Good luck! I think you just need to make a move away from home, and the rest will sort itself out.
posted by meepmeow at 10:28 AM on November 7, 2010

Abstain from all sexual activity for a month. It is the essence of discipline. You will be amazed at the results and how it will benefit your whole life.
posted by blargerz at 6:41 PM on November 8, 2010

Response by poster: Hey guys, thanks for your support. I truly appreciate it.

As far as the job application went, they still really want me. Apparently they were too busy to call me back and ask for an interview. However, I found a small open source software group that says that they need a developer to handle a lot of bugs (I'm a comp sci major, by the way.), so I'm still deciding on whether I want a paid job, or something that contributes to my major and future career.

@espirit I agree with everything you've said. I suppose I need to take a different path to achieve certain things.

@stray Staying in my classes at this point would be albeit useless, since I'm already far behind. I'm actually reviewing my material right now to understand the mechanics, so the next time I take the class I can understand the concepts much easier.

@simpleton Yeah, even though I quit a couple months ago, I'm still in relatively good shape. I just need to stop the muscles from converting to fat from the lack of exercise lately. I'm starting to think that sports probably isn't the path I should take. I've tried tennis, cross country, track, and boxing, and none of them worked out for me. But I don't really regret it, since it got me to the point where I'm still physically fit than the majority of the people I know. Oh, and I'm a dude.

@meepmeow As stressful as it is living with parents that give an overgrown manchild at the age of 22 a 12AM curfew, it does take a lot off my shoulders in terms of paying for housing. My area is in the bay area, which is fairly expensive for just a shared room somewhere. I know some college students that live in closets (insert Harry Potter jokes here :P) because they can't afford proper housing. I may, however, rent an apartment room when I transfer to a UC.

@blargerz No offense, but that sounds completely random. I'll give it a shot though.
posted by RaDeuX at 7:36 PM on November 8, 2010

Not random. If you can't leave your weiner alone for 1 month, what CAN you do?
posted by blargerz at 7:43 PM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @blargerz I guess that's true. What else would you recommend for building discipline.
posted by RaDeuX at 7:48 PM on November 8, 2010

Response by poster: I forgot to add a question mark at the end. D'oh.
posted by RaDeuX at 7:49 PM on November 8, 2010

Fasting. And adderal. But not at the same time.
posted by blargerz at 7:57 PM on November 8, 2010

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