Is there anyone else who just can't be bothered with life?
June 6, 2011 2:03 AM   Subscribe

I can't be bothered with life anymore. Does anyone else feel the same?

I started my first job 6 months ago, straight after graduating from University. I'm incredibly bored and frustrated by the constant monotony in my life. Commute, work, eat, sleep in the weekdays. 2 days to switch off my brain at the weekend.

I don't know what I want to do with my life. I don't have a dream career. I don't have a hobby that makes me happy.

I don't know what I'm looking to get from this post. Maybe someone who just feels the same.
posted by fry to Work & Money (42 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Some people's knee-jerk reaction is going to be: "What's your question?" or "This is chatfilter". I see this post as a cry for help, especially given that you tagged it with "depression".

Please allow me to sympathize, but also to begin the chorus of "You should talk to a therapist." Many people feel the same. You don't have to.
posted by knile at 2:19 AM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you don't enjoy the job, get another. And another, until you find something you love. You're (presumably) young; you don't need much money yet. And eventually, when you're herding yaks, or building boats, or nursing sick owls, or leading treks across the himalayas, you'll suddenly realise that this is it, the thing you didn't know you wanted to do with your life.

Finding that place is a lot more fun (and a lot more risky) than whatever 9-5 you're doing now. And fifty years from now, the chances that you'll look back and regret leaving this job are close to nil. Put aside all the things in your mind that are telling you to stick with it and stay on course, and set yourself the challenge of doing something utterly different.

When you're my age and you're paying all the costs of settling down with a family and a mortgage, it isn't nearly so simple to take an entirely new direction in life. That's something you really need to be exploring now.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:20 AM on June 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

You might look up dysthymia.

Alternatively --

1) What job do you have? What would your dream job be? Do you see a way to get from here to there?

2) What do you like to do for fun? Are there things you could do on the weekend that you would enjoy that don't entail switching off your brain -- or, more pointedly, that entail switching your brain onto another track, from work-occupied to fun-occupied?

3) Do you have close friends? Do you have a boy/girlfriend? Are you close to your family (physically or emotionally)?

There's so much that can go into this. Find what you currently like in your life and try to maximize it. Find what you currently dislike in your life and try to minimize it. This may be a long-term process (switching careers, switching cities, starting new hobbies, etc. etc.)
posted by lewedswiver at 2:21 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

How was life while you were in school before this job? Is this a more recent feeling you're getting?

I think a lot of us have jobs we hate, but find things to help us get by. But I don't know if just getting another job will necessarily help. Especially since that might be hard to do in the first place, let alone guarantee that it'll instantly make your life more enjoyable.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:30 AM on June 6, 2011

If you can't think of a dream career, and you don't have any hobbies in your life right now that make you happy - do you have a place that makes you happy? Is there somewhere you've alway wanted to live? Have you ever visited somewhere that just clicked for you, that made you happy just by walking around? That made you think, 'Fuck, I would love to live here'?

Think about what it would take to get there. Think about where you could live, and the minimum amount you would need to survive. Jobhunt - do you actually care what it is you do? Make your plans, save up a 'getting the hell out of dodge' cushion of money, and go for it.
posted by sophistrie at 2:37 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I heard something on the radio the other day my friend, not sure the truth in it, but it was such a cool little idea that I thought even if it wasn't true that it would be good to do. Something on the lines of: "Going to a club that regularly meets once a month carries the same overall mood increase as a doubleing of your salary"

I would therfore be a big big fan of going to a club, ANY club then taking it from there. In fact, I followed this advice myself and recently went to a "Sasusage Dog appreciation club", I don't own, nor have ever owned a dog - sausage or otherwise, and I loved it. As a bonus as well, clubs are awesome places to meet girls and guys.

You'll be alright mate :)
posted by Cogentesque at 2:42 AM on June 6, 2011 [9 favorites]

Some people I know didn't think they had a "dream job" or a "calling" in life, until they did volunteer work, and then they realised that their most meaningful purpose was to help other people in need. Perhaps you could try that?

I have had a "dream job" since I was little, but I sometimes wish I hadn't, as without it I wonder if I might have joined Medecins Sans Frontiers or something similar.
posted by greenish at 2:53 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't want to disregard the depression advice- yes, go and see if this is your issue. As well, have a think about this.
Cal Newport has some interesting ideas to ponder over. One of which is that the advice: "pursue your passion" is actually really bad advice.

google cache version (because the actual page isn't loading right now) Also: this one, entitled the passion trap: how the search for you life's work is making your working life miserable ( google cache version)

A quote from the second one:
"If the passion trap is real, recent college graduates should be the most affected. At this young age, before the demands and stability of family, their careers are more likely to define their identity. It’s also the period where they feel the most control over their path, and therefore also feel the most anxiety about their decisions.

This predicts, therefore, that the passion trap would make young workers the most unhappy. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what the Conference Board survey finds. Roughly 64% of workers under 25 say that they are unhappy in their jobs, the highest levels of dissatisfaction measured for any age group over the twenty-two year history of the survey."
Talk to people who care, talk to a therapist, phone your family and chat. Take a step back and think about your life and where you want to be, and know that you've got a whole bunch of mefites hoping you'll be ok.
posted by titanium_geek at 3:03 AM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

I know the feeling.

It's small, but one thing that reliably helps me is having a clean apartment. No dishes in the sink or clothes on the floor, no random clutter, bed made, clean sheets, and so on. This effects my mood much more than it seems it should.
posted by kprincehouse at 3:10 AM on June 6, 2011 [8 favorites]

See also this: Cal Newport is wrong about passion- a different but useful perspective.
posted by titanium_geek at 3:15 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Find your joy. Don't know what that is? Try lots of different things until you do. Note: Joy cannot be had 24/7 but it can make everything else just that little more bearable.
posted by mleigh at 3:23 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

You had meaning and purpose at school.... the end was the goal. A path was set before you. A schedule had to be met. There wasn't time for pondering anything except getting the job done.

It's no surprise that compared to that, the 'turning the crank' mode of normal work would seem boring. It is, usually.

Also, if you are a twenty-something (likely!), it's like being sent to your room by Mom. "WTF? Is this adulthood?, you ask!

Sadly, it kind of is, for most people. Don't kill yourself over it, but do consider murdering your circumstances. Might wanna ditch the whole affair and go be a hobo until your desire for change/novelty declines, which it somewhat does as you age.

I think we are addicted to change. We mostly want novelty. That's sort of why the clock ticking in the background can't be heard after a while, and why cherry pie ever day for every meal goes south quickly. Why we philander and seek new love even when contentment sits right in front of us in the form of our loyal, and intensely boring mate.

Understand... there are stacks of skeletons in catacombs all over the world who had lives once. They are dead. Their ability to make change is somewhat reduced. Unlike them, yours isn't. Soon, you'll be a stack of dry bones, too and man, are you going to be surprised how fast it gets here.

I highly suggest getting off your dead ass and doing something fun before your ass is actually dead. Options decline rapidly to 0.

Good luck, buddy. Life's a bitch sometimes, but it does have some fun moments if you live it.
posted by FauxScot at 3:42 AM on June 6, 2011 [21 favorites]

Other people have recommended therapy. This is good advice.

Therapists' work seems to basically consist of getting you to talk about your problems, from "I don't know what to do with my life" to "the rent is too damn high," and finding the bits of your own complaints that suggest how those problems affect you--how your own reaction works. That reaction is a chaotic thing, and can be made to act differently by small changes in your life, although the particular small changes that are needed vary from person to person.

Therapists are trained to recognize those small changes, so go to one, but in addition, enlist the help of yourself and others in finding what those changes might be. Talk a lot, not about allegedly important things, but about the things that bother you, however trivial. Find what you can change, however tiny.

Write it down, too.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:54 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it helps, every single one of my friends who graduated with a 4 year degree went through this. All of them. Every last one.

Personally I had left college early and started working the regular job, due to my own issues. I had grown accustomed to the monotony of working life long before most of my college friends, and looked on as they all encountered the same situation.

Some find happiness in a partner, some bounce from job to job, some take pleasure in doing something monetarily gainful and being able to do damn near whatever they want on their free time, regardless of cost.

No one situation is right for all, but many, many people have hit the same wall you feel you're up against. You're not alone, and the solution will become evident at some point in your life. It wasn't until I was 30 that I found a real sense of work-ethic, taking pride in my work, and now I really enjoy my job. However, it was a long time frame of lame jobs, periods of unemployment, and frustrating personal experiences that led me to work that I actually like to do. but then again, all of those experiences make me better at my job. And one day I'll be going back to school, to be able to get a job that is able to pay me when I can no longer do what I do now.
posted by efalk at 3:55 AM on June 6, 2011 [5 favorites]

There's no particular reason that you should be lucky enough to already have landed your dream job :) Fresh-out-of-college jobs just suck, in my experience. It's hard. The work is boring. You've gone from an exciting environment where your activities change from hour to hour and you get to air your opinions to a much less exciting environment where you sit in one spot for 8 hours and where your opinions are probably not that valued. You have to suck it up for a while. Once you are eligible for promotions, things get more interesting. You'll probably change jobs a few times. Temp for a while if you can, it allows you to see a lot of different environments and get an idea of what you like.

When I was younger I did go to a therapist and talk about following my passion for my career. He pointed out that my job can be a vehicle that allows me to explore my passions. He was right. At this point in my career I'm paid well enough that I can afford to take classes and buy piles of art supplies if I want. If I went back to college to become an artist, I'd likely be deeper in debt and completely stressed out about that.

The other thing that makes life better is cultivating friendships - both at work and elsewhere. I have several friends in my workplace and being part of a team with people I care about gives my work additional meaning. Outside of work, cooking dinner for friends, going to a play, or just hanging out adds a lot of pleasure to my life.
posted by bunderful at 4:48 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Apologies if it is really something more than this.. but:

Quarter Life Crisis - Bearing all the hallmarks of the midlife crisis, this phenomenon – characterised by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness and depression – is hitting twenty- and thirtysomethings shortly after they enter the "real world", with educated professionals most likely to suffer (recent Guardian article).

See also: the book, the website, the film, the ask.metafilter reading list on the topic.
posted by AnnaRat at 4:56 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

If I had a nickel for every time I worried about not having a "passion" or "dream career," I could pay my rent in change and wouldn't need any career.

Anyway, nthing looking into therapy, and seconding that dysthymia might be a possibility. And antidepressants are probably the single best thing I've done for myself. They won't enlighten you - you won't suddenly figure out what you want to do with your life, or even suddenly get the motivation to wash the dishes - but they will peel off that sticky film of world-weariness that keeps you on the couch, staring at the walls.

And here's a trick I've found: the key to finding a direction in life is to find at least one thing you enjoy and want to get better at. It doesn't have to be something that pays, it doesn't have to take up much of your time, it doesn't have to be something you're currently any good at, and it doesn't have to be something you completely enjoy 100% of the time. It can be a hobby or just keeping your apartment clean. It sometimes takes a while to find a thing that sticks, but once you do, others will follow. If it helps, you could consider finding a hobby to be your first hobby.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:56 AM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Arrange your life so that you can do things in the evenings after work - plan your meals ahead/make big batches of food on the weekends; organize all your chores so that you can blow through them in one evening/on the weekend. After work, go to a movie, go to a show, go dancing (if you can tear yourself away early), do activist or volunteer work, join a group, etc.

I have to tell you that my day job (which I basically like and would be glad to stick to forever) is not my passion. Sometimes I regret that, but the things I really like to do don't make a lot of sense as careers - the academic market in my field is shockingly bad, librarianship has changed so much in the past fifteen years and doesn't really involve books too much any more, etc etc. Also, I need health insurance so going freelance with my one feasible hobby isn't really an option.

You don't get everything you want in life, unless you're very very lucky (and generally you also need to start with a lot of privilege). This is the truth of working class/lower-middle class life. Recognizing this - that financial compromise is my lot in life because we live in an unjust society - has helped me a lot. I don't feel bad or dumb because I'm not an awesome freelance vegan baker, because I recognize that my need for health insurance and savings is real. If we lived in a society with a better social safety net, I could chase a few dreams during the work day; as it is, I take what work I can get and hope not to be laid off.

I have a variety of projects that I care about that make my life mostly fulfilling and happy. I bike fairly seriously (well, seriously for a fattish person); I do activist stuff; I teach the occasional free class on my specialty; I cook and work on my cookbook. \

Now, admittedly, you should look for a job you'll like better - can you work overseas for a couple of years? But it's sort of a weird orthodoxy of capitalism that if you're a good enough person you will find passion and fulfillment in your paid work, and if you're not passionately fulfilled by your work you're doing it wrong.
posted by Frowner at 6:19 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding what Cogentesque said RE: joining a club of some sort. I know I took the wonderful melting-pot environment of college for granted while I was there; you meet (and hopefully become friends with) people from all over the country and world, from all different disciplines... once you leave school that gets rudely yanked away from you, and suddenly your only social outlet comes from interaction with your coworkers, and that's not quite the same.

Clubs give you back that "random cross section of community" factor and give you the chance to make friends you would probably never have met otherwise.

Also what Metroid Baby said about direction - hobbies/interests don't need to be permanent or all-consuming... just listen for the voice in your head saying, "Huh, that's interesting. I'd like to know more about that" and follow-through. Maybe you go see a museum exhibit and get it out of your system in an afternoon (on to the next thing) or maybe you discover a lifelong passion... you never know unless you try it out.
posted by usonian at 7:08 AM on June 6, 2011

You describe a feeling but you confuse it with a conclusion. "I feel thusly and therefore I always will because it represents a deep insight into reality in which I understand incontrovertibly that (my) life sucks and shall forever." In addition, you can't see any way out from your situation (and conclude that none exists.)

People have responded to you offering diagnosis (depression), possible ways out (joining a club find another job), context (don't expect the fulfillment you seek to come from your job), empathy (I know the feeling--hey--try this . . .), philosophy (life's a bitch sometimes, or, whence passion? read this link . . .) and, my favorite, therapy (my favorite because I'm a therapist.)

All of these can help, but I just want to suggest that you not define yourself by your current point of view. The way things look to you at the moment can change, and is more likely to change if you don't adopt it as a static definition of who you are. Then you can follow some of the previous advice to create change, or you can just wait and see what happens next.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:48 AM on June 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

I agree with pretty much everyone above chiming in that this feeling is very normal at this stage of life. FauxScot mentioned that in the past, you've always had a set goal (and a rough timeline for meeting it) via school. In addition to joining a club/getting a hobby/volunteering/etc (all EXCELLENT suggestions), I'd also like to suggest that you set some career-related mid-term (as opposed to short- or long-term) goals: to be completed in 3-5 years. It could be learning a skill or working on a specialization, getting a related AA at the local community college...something that hits the achievement button on your brain that will *also* help propel you forward. Good luck!
posted by smirkette at 8:03 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of people go through this at their first job after college. I know I did. It's this feeling of "is this it? is this the rest of my life?"

Time helps. You get used to it. It is the rest of your life. It's not really that bad, though. If you actually did work in school, you have about the same amount of free time now, but it's organized differently. In school, most of your time is unstructured but you always have something hanging over your head--hardly any time is truly yours. At most jobs, they own all of your time during weekdays, but nights and weekends are 100% yours, with nothing hanging over your head screaming "you have to do me." I found comfort in that, anyway.
posted by millipede at 8:34 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm going to take a different approach than most of the answers and say that you shouldn't go out there and look for something that makes you happy. When you're in this state of mind, you will be looking forever. Nothing will seem quite right. This can add to your frustration and your sense that something is wrong with you. "I should be happy," you think.

I've experienced peace through meditation, through letting go of the need to find something out there that will make me happy. It's a paradox that the more I let go, the more happiness comes to me. There's a Buddhist teacher named Pema Chodron that has written a lot of books about your kind of unhappiness and struggle. I encourage you to read some of them ("Start Where You Are" is a good one to um, start with) and just skip the more spiritual parts if you don't care for that aspect.
posted by desjardins at 10:25 AM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have suffered this exact same thing, and I continue to periodically endure these thoughts, sometimes for days at a time until the discomfort becomes great enough and I seek a solution. It appears to me that you are open to seeking a solution, hence this AskMe. There has been a ton of good advice and relating in this thread, and remaining open to the suggestions posited here would, in my opinion, help to kick start whatever action you decide to take on this.

In my experience, the question of "What now?" is answered simply by: "Anything. So long as I am willing to put in the work and face the consequences; good, bad, or indifferent."

The goal actually doesn't matter.. pick something, anything, don't expect it to happen, but work towards it. Should I start a savings account/401K? Should I try to get a date with Drew Barrymore? Buy a nicer car? Purchase a mega-yacht? Eat healthier? Cure cancer? Volunteer at a hospital? Fight crime?

Regardless of the goal, realistic or not, start small: "What can I do today, right now, to make the above happen?", pick a direction that leads you towards that goal and be consistent about it. So long as this goal is in accordance with my moral compass, isn't physically impossible, or cause harm to anyone, I will be growing. In growth, there is inevitably gratitude. In gratitude is serenity, and thus satisfaction.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:33 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I completely understand the feeling of monotony. Day in, day out, following the same routines, going through the motions, but not deriving any particular satisfaction from the experiences. Even thinking at times (or frequently) is this all that my life is? Is this what my life boils down to?

I think it helps to have something to look forward to. For me, early on, it was planning a vacation, or planning a meeting with a friend. If I didn't have anything on the horizon, I would feel especially glum. (maybe I'm just distracting myself)

Ideally you'll find a job doing what you really want to be doing, but in the meantime you're going to your job because it feeds some need you have -- be it salary, experience, training, social interaction, or whatever else. Or perhaps you continue going to your job because that is what is expected of you.

I'd like to say, "go do something you'd rather be doing, and damn the consequences!" But there are consequences to doing whatever it is you want to do, just as there are consequences for continuing on the path you've chosen already.

Once a therapist I was seeing asked me, "tell me about your perfect day," and I described it to her. So think about your perfect day, and how it would differ from your day-to-day existence. What changes can you make in your life to get closer to that perfect day?
posted by indigo4963 at 11:26 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Being just out of uni is a very destabilized time in many ways - your social life may have disappeared as friends moved to different cities, your sense of purpose (finish uni!) has gone, etc. It's hard for many people, you are not alone. Hang on, it does get better with time and you will build new routines and get used to adult life - but it does take some time, so just hang on.

Are you lonely? Being lonely makes everything harder, I find. The solution is to find people to spend time with. Uni friends, or go to a club/hobby group, a sports group, a church group, a pub trivia night, etc - go out into the world and spend time with people (outside work) at least once a week. Talk on the phone with friends. Spend time with your family if you're on good terms with them.

Depending on your circumstances, getting a pet can help too, then you're not sitting at home alone all the time and you have the daily needs of your pet to draw yourself "out of your own head".

As far as your job - for now, just do your job well and notice which meta-aspects of it suit you and which don't. Do you like flexibility or rigidity in a work culture? Do you like face to face work or solitary work? etc. You're building experience (to help you decide on a next step in a year or two) and contacts (people who you've met and impressed with your competence and work ethic - they'll help you to get your next job). Your next job will be a little better, more interesting, and it will introduce you to a new set of work experiences and people who will add to your personal stores of knowledge, etc. Then you'll take a next step from there. Very few people can predict at this stage what their careers will look like in ten years - but the most successful careers are built up out of these small jumps - get a job, do it well, learn what you can and impress people there, then choose your moment and jump to another job, do that one well, etc. Eventually you're the guy who has done some data-analysis and some carpentry and some marketing work for restaurants, and some online writing for a food blog, and so on - until you become the valuable guy who has all these amazing skills that nobody else has in a single package. Then you can pick your offers.

But outside your job, start building a life. Find people, find things that interest you or which you enjoy. It won't amount to an overarching sense of purpose... but this is how you work your way toward having a sense of purpose. Try things out. Some will suck or be boring, and some will be enjoyable, and you get to choose.

Good luck. Hang in there; you are not alone and it does get better even though it feels bleak right now.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think obscure reference probably has it right. Your question is kind of open-ended, so there's a lot of ways to respond to it, and none of them are wrong. In the end, your problem, question and answer are all going to be individual to you, and you will figure it out.

To directly answer what you've asked though: yeah, of course. I feel the same way as you often, and I'm only a bit older than you. What no one ever wants to admit to other people is that, by and large, life does suck for most people most of the time. But that's why you have to squeeze whatever tiny bits of joy you can out of each and every moment. I mean, if you sit and think about how most of us have to live, it's pretty much like you described. Most weeks, I wake up, go to work, come home and eat dinner and it's pretty much already time for bed again. And then I'll pack the weekend with so much stuff that I couldn't do during the week that it's Sunday night before I even realize it.

So I really empathize with where you're coming from, but I don't let it get me down. One of the things that has always stuck with me was something that Agent Cooper said on Twin Peaks (of all places). He said: "Harry, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it, don't wait for it, just... let it happen. Could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee."

Personally, I love coffee, so I really stop to enjoy it when I get one. For you? Maybe it's something particular from Jamba Juice, or even the smell of a certain tree you pass on your way to work. But this is all basically just a reiteration of something Lin Chi said, "If you love the sacred and despise the ordinary, still you are bobbing in an ocean of delusion". If you can find just a bit of something in a moment, in that moment the other stuff doesn't matter.

And since everyone is offering what works for them, I'll tell you what also works for me (on a more macro level). Try making something with your hands. It can be anything: simple woodworking (and it can be as simple as cutting blocks for something), making portable speakers out of an altoids tin and playing cards... whatever. But when I'm using my hands to make something, and seeing an end result that I can hold gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Ultimately, I think that's what's missing. For me at least, and maybe for you too. I read the article linked above about the Passion Trap, and I found it interesting, but I might disagree with the conclusions in one area at least. I think the dissatisfaction in our jobs has less to do with people searching for the perfect and never finding it. That may be a part of it, but I also think that some of it has to do with the kinds of jobs that the majority of us do now. Instead of installing new plumbing in someone's home, seeing it work properly and knowing the job was done right at the end of the day, most of us have pretty abstract tasks and (at least in my case) poorly defined goals, and even the positive feedback is abstract when you're lucky enough to get it. As a result, I think most people have that "wheel-spinning" feeling that you talked about.

(If you MeMail me, I'll share a positive example from my career of what I'm talking about. I do pretty abstract work myself, but the one time I could see a concrete result come from my work it ended up being what I consider one of my greatest accomplishments, even though it was a relatively minor thing, in the grand scheme)

I apologize for the novel, but as I said: I completely understand how you feel, and I wanted you to know you're not the only one. I'll leave it at that, and hope my words have helped a little.
posted by indiebass at 1:20 PM on June 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

Oh - and since you're new to this site, you can look at the "IRL" link at the top right of the screen. That is where meetups are planned among members of this site. Check it out and see if there is a meetup in your city. You can even propose one.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:21 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Firstly, thank you all for reading and responding. This question was not the reason I signed up to Metafilter for, but I really wanted to cry out for help this morning on the way to work.

I'll try to respond to as many posts as I can.

I can't see myself going to a therapist. I wouldn't want to tell my girlfriend because I don't want to worry her. As we live together, it would be incredibly difficult to sneak out on a regular basis without arousing suspicion.

I'm half-heartedly looking for new jobs at the moment. I feel as though I wouldn't be happy in any job, and that moving constantly would just look ridiculous on my CV. I'm a computer programmer with no clue as to what my dream job would be. I ended up here by doing well in Maths and Computing at school, and then getting a Computer Science degree.

I honestly don't have any hobbies. At the weekend I spend time with my girlfriend or friends. We don't really do anything; just going shopping or drinking and eating.

Life before working was simple. I didn't have any control over my life apart from choosing my University and degree. There were clear goals to work towards. Assignments to work on, exams to revise for. Now I have control over my life, and I feel like I've let myself down by making myself unhappy - "THIS is what you've come up with?"

I can't think of any particular location that I'm particularly fond of.

I don't think joining a club would help me. I'm not lonely at all, I just feel like I'm wasting my life, working long hours in a job that gives me no satisfaction, constantly under pressure to fix other people's mistakes, with no time to even find something that would make me happy.
I haven't tried volunteer work, but is this viable as a job?

I will read the Cal Newport articles tomorrow - the quote makes a lot of sense to me. The Quarter Life Crisis is also interesting to hear.

Having a messy apartment is definitely a change for the worse since I started working. When I was a student, I would spend half the day cleaning and I would feel good at the end of it! Now I've got things lying around everywhere because I don't have time to tidy properly.

I think there's a lot of truth in our desire for change. "The grass is always greener." But real change is pretty hard. Part of me wants to give it all up and do something exciting like go travelling across the world. But what do I tell my girlfriend? "See you in 6 months?". Then there are the expectations of my family to have a successful and stable career.

I'm kind of against taking medication to improve my mood. I don't think the root cause is a chemical imbalance; I need a change in my life and I don't want drugs to pretend I'm happy.

Before I started working, I thought I would have more time for myself. Go to work at 9am, leave at 5pm. In reality, it's go to work at 9am, leave at 8pm, have dinner and go to bed.

I like the advice about finding meta-aspects of my job which I enjoy. I'll try to find something that I enjoy and focus on that.
posted by fry at 4:32 PM on June 6, 2011

I feel the same way. I also see a therapist and am thinking of getting back on medication.

The one thing I do is give myself little 'carrots' - small things that I know will be good in the future. So today, life feels like it sucks. But in two weeks I'm seeing a band I always enjoy, and a month after that there's a mini-festival. I bought Pulp tickets for August, so I need to stay alive until then, and there's this festival in November and I can't die before that. Plus the season finale of Fringe is on tomorrow, and I need to beat Vanquish, and Arkham City looks good...

Little things. I feel the same way as you about the big picture, but its the little things that keep you going.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:11 PM on June 6, 2011

I think I just went through (and probably am still going through) a lot of what you currently are. Of the four phases listed in that quarterlife crisis article from The Guardian, I think I'm at around phase 1.7.

Honestly, I think the problem has less to do with the workers and more to do with the companies. I read a few posts on that Cal Newport site and I think they're onto something when they talk about how jobs these days are more about creating intellectual property and less about actually making stuff. You really don't get that same sense of achievement.

Now, another article for you which I think does a good job of detailing how many companies are failing the newer generations of workers who haven't already had their souls crushed by the despair that is cubicle farms:

How to build an army of happy, busy worker bees
posted by StarmanDXE at 5:59 PM on June 6, 2011

(Sorry, me again. Was a bit too hasty in wanting to post that link and, as such, left my point a bit half-baked...)

As far as the sense of achievement goes with making stuff, I think companies and managers became complacent in terms of trying to boost employee morale. It just happened naturally before. Now, companies and managers alike just aren't aware that they need to make organizational changes when working in the realm of intellectual property.

I am currently at my first job out of college; been there for 8+ months. There have been moments in which I have felt a sense of achievement when doing things, but they have been few and far between... In reference to the article I linked to above, in the last 8+ months, I have not gotten to work on any teams and I have not felt like I have gotten any visibility. After 8+ months of performing analyses and writing reports, it feels like all of my work just gets sent off into the ether with little or no recognition. Now, I no longer have nearly as much motivation to carry-out my work... I feel like just another cog in the wheel!

Before I joined the working-world, my image of what a job was going to be like was always more akin to the group projects and research projects of college. What I am doing here feels more like homework than anything else... In these past 8 months, I have slowly started to realize that my dream job is less about what I am working on and is more about how the work is actually carried out. I would almost definitely be much happier working on much more mundane things just as long as I got to do those mundane things along with other people.

Anyway, hope that I gave you something to think about, and I would be interested to hear of anyone else's thoughts on this matter!
posted by StarmanDXE at 6:36 PM on June 6, 2011

I can't see myself going to a therapist. I wouldn't want to tell my girlfriend because I don't want to worry her. As we live together, it would be incredibly difficult to sneak out on a regular basis without arousing suspicion.

I was under the impression that romantic relationships entailed emotional intimacy. That means sharing what you feel, even if it's unpleasant.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:02 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't see myself going to a therapist. I wouldn't want to tell my girlfriend because I don't want to worry her. As we live together, it would be incredibly difficult to sneak out on a regular basis without arousing suspicion

This makes me sad. Presumably your girlfriend cares about you and wants you to be happy. If I found out a boyfriend was sneaking around getting therapy to not worry me, or *even worse* not getting therapy to not worry me, it would break my heart. Don't let this be the reason. I'm sure she will support you.
posted by sweetkid at 7:36 PM on June 6, 2011

I zeroed in on this: Before I started working, I thought I would have more time for myself. Go to work at 9am, leave at 5pm. In reality, it's go to work at 9am, leave at 8pm, have dinner and go to bed.

You sound completely burned out. Why do you work 11-hour days? I did this once for about four months straight at a job I kind of liked and it was TERRIBLE. At a job I didn't like? Ugh. I think what i hate most about the worst jobs I've had is their monopoly on my attention span. I can't daydream or think about interesting things or read interesting things or...whatever. I hate having my mind chained up like that--by the end of a long day I'm too exhausted to actually pursue the creative or interesting things I might want to do in what little free time I have left. I have to recharge--we all do.

If you're not starving, can you work less? A job that offered a better work-life balance would certainly be beneficial. In the short term, exercise can help (it's hard to get motivated, I know--can you at least get a walk in with your girlfriend? Walk to work? Walk to a further bus stop? Anything?)
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:08 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think if I told my girlfriend I was getting therapy, she would feel rejected that I couldn't open up to her. I've never been this close to anyone before, but even so, I don't talk about my feelings with her. I just try to pretend everything's normal.

I work long hours simply because everyone else does! As the new guy, I don't want to be seen as the lazy one or not fit in with everyone else. There's a horrible culture of work above all else at the company. Anyone who does leave on time always get commented on as "leaving early".
posted by fry at 1:12 AM on June 7, 2011

I have and sometimes do feel the same.

I think therapy would be really helpful for you and I also think that telling your girlfriend about the fact that you're having these feelings would be good for you and your relationship. Hiding things like this from the one you love is no way to go through life.

Do you really want to wait five or ten years before finally going to therapy and realizing that it would have been really helpful all along? I waited at least three years and I wish I'd gone sooner. Ironically, it was my girlfriend at the time who finally convinced me to go.

In other advice, I second the idea of clubs. A regular Monday/Tuesday/etc night pick-up basketball/poker/chess game has a much more positive effect than you might expect and is a great way of gradually making friends and acquaintances. I know you say you aren't lonely, but you never know.

Finally, regular exercise is a scientifically-proven mood booster and has the nice side-effect of keeping you healthy and feeling great physically.
posted by callmejay at 8:15 AM on June 7, 2011

Something to be wary of, in yourself: in my experience, depression involves making excuses why you can't do anything to fix it. Every suggestion or every obvious step you could take, there is some perfectly logical reason why you can't do that, so *shrug* you're stuck.

Don't know if this describes you right now, but just a tendency to be aware of in yourself -- if you find you are very ingeniously thinking up reasons why you can't do these things, consider whether it might be a self-defeating part of something like depression.

If so tell it to fuck off -- just DO one of the proposed solutions. (For example talk to your girlfriend for pete's sake! If she were feeling low, wouldn't you want to be there for her?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:55 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're probably dysthymic. Here's the first sentence of each paragraph you wrote in your first response:

Firstly, thank you all for reading and responding.
I'll try to respond to as many posts as I can.
I can't see myself going to a therapist.
I'm half-heartedly looking for new jobs at the moment.
I honestly don't have any hobbies.

Life before working was simple.
I can't think of any particular location that I'm particularly fond of.
I don't think joining a club would help me.

I will read the Cal Newport articles tomorrow - the quote makes a lot of sense to me.
Having a messy apartment is definitely a change for the worse since I started working.
I think there's a lot of truth in our desire for change.
I'm kind of against taking medication to improve my mood.
Before I started working, I thought I would have more time for myself.

I like the advice about finding meta-aspects of my job which I enjoy.

All that stuff I highlighted are blocks. Your best option right now is to see them for what they are; your illness trying to defend itself. You most likely won't be able to defeat this alone. You need help and a therapist is going to be you best first step.

I'm being hard on you because I have the same problem. Dysthymia is a bear and you need help. A good therapist can get you started on a good plan. Start now, don't put it off, and tell the fears and self-doubt to fuck off. They aren't a part of you. They're a part of the illness.

Go do it now.
posted by chairface at 1:35 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love answering this question, because it allows me to post, verbatim, one of my favorite pieces of writing on self-actualization. From Cary Tennis at - in answer to a guy who thought he had no passion in life:

Actually, I was thinking about your letter all week,
because your self-description brought to mind Robert
Musil's great modern novel "The Man Without
Qualities," which, by coincidence, on Sunday was
sitting on the counter of the local fine used
bookseller -- under a first edition of "The Lovely
Bones." Having a weakness for possibly meaningful
coincidence, I took it home -- the unabridged Knopf
two-volume set, translated by Sophie Wilkins.

Ulrich, the man without qualities, is not a dull man;
he is a mathematician, and he is accomplished. But he
feels the equivalency of one action with another, and
can muster no overriding sense of belonging or
meaning. He suffers acute European modernist despair;
he is caught in that intellectual labyrinth of magical
futility that excludes, as by a magician's practiced
misdirection, the easy cure of simply accepting
radical chaos. (If Joseph K had only stopped and said,
"Hey, shit happens!" If only. Like, in your dreams.)

In revolt against modernist despair, I take as a motto
those words of the great American modernist poet
Wallace Stevens: "The final belief is to believe in a
fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being
nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it
is a fiction and that you believe in it willingly."

That is, divide like Jehovah the light from the dark
and say this, this here, this is the unfathomable shit
and I am going to let it be because I have no clue
what it could possibly mean. It might mean hoo-ha or
hee-hee. And, for the rest, I am going to stick to the
stuff I can understand, which isn't much, but it's

Because I am busy enough constructing fictions that
allow me to function. I am busy enough constructing
the fiction of my next footfall. I am busy enough,
moment by moment, constructing the world, without
which constant work the air hisses out of our dream
and we asphyxiate like fish. And who would choose
that? So we work hard at our comforting fictions; we
pretend as hard as we can that we are actually alive.
Having murdered all our gods, we work hard on our home
brew of mercy.
posted by lalochezia at 3:29 PM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think if I told my girlfriend I was getting therapy, she would feel rejected that I couldn't open up to her. I've never been this close to anyone before, but even so, I don't talk about my feelings with her. I just try to pretend everything's normal.

This is really not good. Going to therapy shouldn't have anything to do with not being open around your girlfriend. Pretending everything's normal isn't good either.
posted by sweetkid at 9:24 PM on June 7, 2011

I think if I told my girlfriend I was getting therapy, she would feel rejected that I couldn't open up to her.

Following on sweetkid's comment, I have two thoughts on this. One is that you should explain to your girlfriend, if you feel it's true, that your talking with a therapist could help you open up to her. The other, kind of an extension of that, is that, sometimes, you may want to talk to your therapist about things you don't talk to your girlfriend about (or maybe not just yet).
posted by knile at 1:19 AM on June 8, 2011

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