How do I get over where I've landed in life?
January 5, 2012 1:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I get over resentment of others stemming from my "I'm still a degree-less waitress" mentality.

To preface, a little about my educational history. I've always been an above average student. Advanced high school classes were easy enough for me. My first attempt at college I flunked out. I wanted to socialize instead. I got serious and went to a different school a year later. I did very well again. I switched majors constantly because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Essentially, aside from the knowledge I gained, I wasted a lot of time and money doing this.

I moved to Chicago when I was 24, because I really really wanted to live in a big city with all my friends who were finishing school and getting jobs here. I didn't have a degree or a job. I found a job waiting tables. I loved where I worked- the people, the atmosphere. I really felt at home. I made pretty good money to boot- more than my friends with degrees who were just starting out in their new careers. I told myself I would finish a degree before I turned 30. That was the goal, anyway. I played around for a few years and didn't enroll in any school immediately. Why should I? I was making enough money to pay the rent and still have fun! Geez....

The owners of the restaurant I was working at opened another restaurant a few years later. They asked me if I wanted to transfer to the new place. I was happy to. They told me I would make even more money at the new restaurant. They had also asked me a few times if I wanted to go into management and start working my way up in the company. I declined because while I enjoyed this line of work as a young 20-something, I knew I wanted to leave the lifestyle eventually and be a "normal person" with a 9 to 5 job, or at least something like it. I still have absolutely no desire to stay in restaurants forever.

So I went to the new restaurant and they were right- the money was and still is pretty good. Fast forward a little and now I'm 30 (I'm female, if that's of any relevance.) I did go back to school shortly after starting at the new restaurant and recently received my associates in architecture from a 2 year community college. It was the first major I've found that I REALLY liked. I've been pulling the school-by-day-work-by-night to the point that I'm quite used to it, now. My problem is that I still have (at least) 2 years left of school before I feel like I can move on to a different job. An associates in architecture doesn't land you much of a job in this economy.

While I was studying at the community college I really fell in love with sustainable architecture. I learned all about these green walls and really liked what they were all about. I applied for a grant at my school to build one and I was successful in getting the grant but there was all this red tape with the city about putting one on the school (which the grant stipulated had to be the location) that I was ultimately shot down. I've been sort of lost since then. I was kind of hoping that maybe I could parlay that green wall into a potential career. That first one being done in a location with a lot of visibilty on someone else's dime would have been great for me. I could have learned what about them works and doesn't work in this climate for free. The grant can't be resurrected at this point. After I graduated from that school I had a few decisions to make- 1) keep going for an architectural degree, which would mean another 4 or 5 years of school and I can't have a job for the last few years. I don't even know if this is possible for me at this point. 2) Go for some other degree and hopefully finish in 2 or so years. I'm thinking something along the lines of environmental studies. Both of these options leave me with waiting tables for the forseeable future. I don't really know how to do anything else, let alone something that will pay me well and give me the time to finish a degree. The entrepreneur in me wants to run off and try to start a green business- screw the degree. I don't think this is really a smart idea, but there is a part of me that would love to try. I mean, I'm not getting any younger. Eventually I want to settle down, get married and have kids. The clock is ticking on that front.

I don't want to sound like a complainer- my life isn't that bad. I am just really starting to feel resentful of all these "kids" I work with that have degrees that their parents paid for and are looking for real jobs and I'm the veteran 30 year old that still waits tables and will be doing that for a while while I pay my own way through school. I need the money. I can't not work. I have debt that I am trying to pay off (I was a stupid 18 year old that got a credit card). No bank will loan me money at this point. I am turning into a bitter person. I don't want to be that. I'm focusing way too much on all these young, successful people that have, or will soon have, real careers and a lot more money than me. I am jealous of all of them.

I have a drive in me to be successful but I feel lost. I know I made some mistakes and I'm paying for them now but I feel like I'm spinning the wheels all the time and getting nowhere. I talk to people in the field and volunteer at various places all the time to learn more about sustainable architecture but without a god damn degree I fear I'm unemployable and useless.

Let me get to my questions then:
1) Am I overlooking something? What else can I do to accelerate this process? Is there something else I should be doing right now to make things happen faster? I know there's no magic pill but am I missing something? Anything?
2) This is the big one- How do I stop being so resentful and jealous of all the happy people while I'm stuck in this rut of mine? I really, really don't want to feel this way. Do you guys ever feel like this?
posted by smeater44 to Human Relations (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I think you're being entirely too hard on yourself. It sounds like you're good at your job and you enjoy it, and waiting tables is nothing to be ashamed of--it's fun and lucrative if you're skilled, which it sounds like you are.

Give yourself a break and some accolades for figuring out what you're interested in, obtaining a degree in that field, and plotting out your next steps. Those are huge movements toward creating the life that you want. Have you considered that by successfully pursuing a degree that you love you are inspiring younger folks who went through the motions without passion?

Try to stop comparing yourself to other people who are on different paths. There's no one right way to go about education and career-building, and everyone is dealing with their own particular setbacks and disappointments. Instead, seek out leaders and mentors in your field to help guide you in your next steps. Reading relevant literature (blogs, peer-reviewed journals, etc) to educate yourself on the ins and outs of your field to refocus your mental energy in a more productive direction. Volunteer with a related organization to build contacts and clarify your direction.

Put the grant fiasco behind you--other grants, scholarships, and financial aid exist to help you through school, so keep pursuing them. Believe me, I know how discouraging it is to miss an opportunity like that, but if you got one grant it's highly likely you can get others. Take classes part-time to help avoid student loans, if you can manage that. As long as you can support yourself, save a bit of money and pay down your debts, don't worry about how long it will take to finish. Keep moving forward--it sounds like you're doing great!
posted by sundaydriver at 2:26 AM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

How do I stop being so resentful and jealous of all the happy people while I'm stuck in this rut of mine? I really, really don't want to feel this way. Do you guys ever feel like this?

Hi, I'm one of those people that took an extra-long time to get an undergraduate degree. I'm going to trust that other folks are going to address your first question, so I'll focus on the second.

Yes, I often felt that way. What helped me was to just accept that I was just on a different path than the stereotypical one of graduating high school, immediately starting university, doing lots of partying/attending lots of football games, getting reasonable grades, graduating after four fun-filled years, and taking an entry-level position at ConglomCo. I was supporting myself, struggling in school, hating my classes despite only taking 2 or 3 at a time, and so I hated those jerks who seemed to have it so damn easy.

What sorted me out academically was finding real, beyond school motivation. I found a career goal that really excited me and once I could identify a path through the academic woods that could get me there I was off and no longer wanted for motivation.

Of course I was still on a different path than those stereotype guys, but I eventually decided that it's okay. Unique person is unique. I mean that different path can be isolating but, at the same time, being different and having your own non-stereotypical experiences is also what allows you to have your own, non-stereotypical insight into problems and issues. In the long run, you'll find that to be really, really valuable, especially if you're working in an industry that requires creative problem solving.

I guess I would just say that if you want the architecture or environmental degree, figure out a way to make it happen and don't feel ashamed or discouraged that you're on your own path in life. Unique person is awesome.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:33 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about landscape design? Can you find a program in that and work at the same time?

PS I am also bitter about some bad decisions made through seeming lack of choices due to financial constraints that have also led me down long roads in the wrong direction. You're not alone there.

posted by bquarters at 2:56 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. how to accelerate the process? pick something. You can't move on without choosing something. I suggest taking a hard look at what you want over-all, then talking to a career adviser at your community school to find out what degrees have the best placement rates, which ones pay the best, ect.

Say that what you really really want is to be an architect. Jobs in that field are tough to get in even a good economy, but this is what you want. So you go back to school for two years to be a surgical lab tech (or welder, or HVAC tech whatever) because it pays pretty good and there is a high demand for it. Being a lab tech isn't all that fun, but with the hours being 7 to 3 or 3 to 11, you can easily keep going to school while building up some savings. By the time you get to when you can't work at the same time, you can have enough savings to do that.

What you don't want to do is go to school for something and find out when you leave that ONCE AGAIN you can't do anything with it. Or that it's too competitive a field to get a job in without an Ivy League degree.

2. How do you stop being resentful?

Few things- First- waiting tables is a real job. At some point we started looking down on the blue collar workers and it not right. It pays well and it's honest work.

Second, remember that those kids that are drawing your resentment- have their own shit to deal with- and you are never going to know what that is. On top of that- if their parents gave them this insane gift of paying for their education- that shit is fucking admirable. Why should you hate on their kids? Those kids being grateful, or sullen, or even noticing how hard it is for other people- changes absolutely nothing for YOU. Take their parent's gifts as a lesson for your own future family and move on.

Finally- The only way you are going to stop feeling resentful (and defensive about your choices) is to be doing something you are proud of. I've know people that have served in restaurants for twenty years and are damn proud- because they were raising their babies and serving means extra money AND time. I have friends that still bartend at forty because it means they can spend all day making movies. You are going to stop being bitter as soon as you start moving on SOMETHING.

Make a list of things in order of priority in your life. Kids by 40? ok- is that doable as a waitress (yes, but isn't fun.) Is going to school for four years and then interning and searching for a job in a very competitive field all the while looking for a spouse and popping out kids-- is that doable? (yes but it comes with a high degree of risk that things aren't going to work out.) Make some hard choices and go for it- and you're going to stop feeling like you are being left behind.

Do I feel resentful sometimes? of course. I have a degree in what I want. I DO what I want, but I am also living under a mountain of school loans and still have to serve on the weekends to live hand to mouth. But That resentment is all about me. It stops just fine when I look at my life and get to really dig the direction it's going in.
posted by Blisterlips at 3:10 AM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

" ... ... I really fell in love with sustainable architecture ... 2) Go for some other degree and hopefully finish in 2 or so years. I'm thinking something along the lines of environmental studies. "

I think if you have found something to be passionate about, that's the best way to develop a satisfying career and you should stick to that as far as possible. As you know, that will be the long haul but it will be worth it. In terms of other degrees, if you are interested in the environmental side of things generally, then a possible sideways step (that would keep you in the same field and give you a complementary set of skills and training that could be successfully parlayed into architecture along the way) might be looking at town / urban planning. Disclosure - I have been a planner for over 20 years (albeit almost by accident rather than as a career choice - still not sure what I want to do when I grow up) and I have seen a huge swing towards the need for both built and natural environments to be constructed and managed sustainably. A lot of planners have some sort of design or architectural experience / training and vice versa.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 3:11 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Green architecture needs skills, people who can implement aspects really well and act as advisers to architects or planning authorities - like any aspect of architecture, but even more so at the intermediary stage because it's not fully integrated into existing practice. So, how about looking for work in that area? Maybe that means training in landscape or horticulture, if you want to do work like green walls. (Inevitably, it also means wrestling with the city and learning the codes inside-out so that you can see what can be done and how, and realising that's a huge part of the struggle to build, period.)

I think you should identify people working in the area of work you care about in Chicago and ask them to meet you for coffee or an informational interview. Most people will say yes, happily. Spread the net wide and don't just contact architects, and ask all of them about the other people in allied fields that they work with. Consider the green aspects of planning and landscaping, and talk to people there. Look out for non-profits and public bodies too. There are people out there who share your passion and some of them will have turned it into their working life, so check it out before you reinvent something that's already begun. Maybe even talk to the city (with your own issue completely out of the picture).

If you're not happy where you are right now, there's no need to get over anything, just to plan the next stage and get moving towards it. In the same way, you haven't landed where you are: you've gotten there through a series of choices that were the best ones for you at the time. Pick what's next (and maybe it is getting on a management track where you are, for money and transferable skills) and don't marinate in resentment right now.

Just don't choose architecture - 4-5 hard years, lots without time for working, to end up applying for internships at the absolute bottom rung of a field stuffed with young people who don't need an income right away doesn't sound like it'll be the answer for you.
posted by carbide at 3:55 AM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm in the environmental consulting field. If you finish a four-year degree in environmental science or a related field, you'll be qualified for entry-level positions in environmental consulting. Frankly, the pay will probably be worse than waiting tables, at least at first, but they generally include decent benefits. If you land at the right firm you could start actually working in sustainability two years from now -- much faster than getting the architect's degree. Some firms may even pay for continuing education so you could get your masters.

It's also a field with more openings than architecture or city planning. My firm is currently hiring in sustainability. If you had the four-year degree, you'd be one of the people we'd be looking at for entry-level hires. I don't see the demand for sustainability professionals declining over the next two years.
posted by pie ninja at 5:51 AM on January 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

When I am being honest with myself, I admit that my resentments of other people have more to do with my own regrets than they do with the other people's situation. You are regretting partying away your shot at four-years-and-done, wasting away your 20s waiting tables for the easy money, turning down management opportunities, not lining up all your ducks to make the grant a success, etc.

But clearly you have tremendous gifts that you are not giving yourself credit for. You're both book-smart and people-smart, a great combination that's less common than you may think. You are driven and passionate (few people go around applying for --- successfully applying for grants on their own without any training or the existing infrastructure of a nonprofit to support them). You are on top of your finances (young-adult debt is nothing to be ashamed of --- surely it paid for a lot of good times that you can remember fondly, and some of it paid for your degree).

You are at a crossroads and unsure of your next steps, but that doesn't mean you should be looking back at your past choices with regret. That BS/BA is necessary to get jobs, but that's often its only value. Your life experience is much more valuable in many ways, and if you recognize that, it will help you not resent people who have gone the more traditional route.

As for practical goals, you could combine your interest in sustainable architecture with your experience in the restaurant business by looking into the "green restaurant" field, or green rooftops (which restaurants and university dining halls are a big part of). Since it's new and green, a lot of that kind of development is probably funded through grants, which you've already shown you're good at writing.
posted by headnsouth at 6:43 AM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

A lot of us who took unconventional paths feel this way, trust us. I made a couple sharp turns in my path, with the result that I look around now in the industry I'm in and I'm older than other people with the same role, people who are younger than me are in some significant positions of power, and I feel like it's harder to take risks at this point since I've already taken so many to get here that I can't really "start over" again. For awhile, I was possibly the world's oldest intern. It's hard not to feel like I missed the boat somehow and ended up way behind when I start comparing myself to everyone else.

On the other hand, I got to take an amazing path where I really got out there and saw the world, explored, and had adventures and life experiences none of these people did as they were working their way up one singular ladder. Their path may be longer but at times when I'm slipping into resentment I have to remind myself that my journey's taken me on a wider tour of the world, and that, although not directly valued sometimes in our results-driven society, is something to be personally proud of and satisfied with.

You have had a really amazing ride through your twenties of living in a city you love and doing work you're well compensated for and learning to very maturely balance a day job and night improvement and being enriched by fundamentally different kinds of day to day interactions that no kid who's gone straight through the standard path has even come close to touching. You are as real and as accomplished as a growing, wisdom-accumulating person as anyone.
posted by sestaaak at 6:43 AM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Pie Ninja's advice is great, as is Sestaaak's.

You have something you love to do. You tried to do it, for the first time, and you ran into what architects (and archaeologists, public archaeologists and lots of other people like that) always run into: the difficulty of interfacing with government and cities and communities. That's not something you're going to know how to deal with on your own, right off the bat. It sounds like that experience soured you, and guess what? Doing these kind of things alone, for the first time, without assistance--that's hard.

So? If that's something you want to do, you need to lady-up and go get the experience and the background, and, quite possibly, the degree. (Honestly? You sound like a great candidate for a smart school--and you should AIM HIGH if you reconsider school. Lots of great schools want unusual, smart, hardworking candidates like yourself. YOUR BACKGROUND IS A STRENGTH, and you MUST understand that, or you will undermine yourself.)

As a person who never went to college at all, my "career" track was fundamentally delayed until I was older than you. People who go to college have an opportunity to get there faster, that's all. But guess what? They didn't get to live like you and I; they didn't have the experiences you and I did. We're MUCH more interesting and well-rounded and, dare I say, COOLER than some twit who just graduated high school and went off to college!

In short: it's time for you to get an attitude--instead of letting your attitude hold you back. Embrace a chip on your shoulder for a while. It'll fade over time.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:46 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, I don't have too much practical advice for you, but really, it's very good that you enjoy your job and are making pretty good money. The 9-5 thing (actually, more like 9-6 or more with overtime) is not all it's cut out to be. Some people, like me, feel that an office job, being forced to sit, is unnatural and uncomfortable (and even hellish sometimes). You are at least interacting with people, moving around, and doing something you enjoy. I'm sure you've gained lots of skills. It's unfortunate that a lot of people look down on waitressing, but it doesn't sound like you're doing bad at all! Those people sitting in cubicles all day are usually not particularly happy, to be honest, and when they are, it's usually not because they are sitting in an office from 9-5.
posted by bearette at 6:47 AM on January 5, 2012

PS: I'm not saying that you shouldn't follow your ambitions; by all means, follow your dreams! Just in the meantime, try not to get too down about what other people think about your job. Your enjoyment of it, and the compensation you're getting for it, is what matters.
posted by bearette at 6:48 AM on January 5, 2012

I have a drive in me to be successful but I feel lost.

I'm going to be blunt here. I don't think that you do. Someone with a drive to be successful does not go to college twice and come away with no degree. Someone with a drive to be successful does not spend 6 years in a job they have no interest making a career out of. Someone with a drive to be successful does not turn down an explicit offer to move into a management position because they want a 9-5 job someday. Someone with a drive to be successful does not become "lost" because a grant they were awarded got wrapped up in red tape.

Getting a degree does not offer you immediate entrance into a career of your choosing. You say that "An associates in architecture doesn't land you much of a job in this economy." Even a bachelors in architecture doesn't land you much of a job in this economy. Hell, even a job in architecture doesn't land you much of a job in this economy. You would be working many hours (certainly not 9-5), possibly in a firm you hate, doing tedious work you hate, for possibly less money than you are making now.

There is still a great deal of digging and grinding and networking that you need to do after you have your degree. You will still have to make hard choices about money and family and professional development and more, and the path that you have outlined in this question does not lead me to believe you are ready to make those kind of choices. Trust me, I know, I was the same way. I got a Master's degree in Historic Preservation, but when I realized that a career in that field meant too much work and too much disruption for my family, I knew had to give it up. I've since carved out a decent little career for myself in a field I've come to enjoy, and I have a great job where I get to go home at 5:30 every day with zero stress.

I really think you would be best served by reorienting yourself to figure out a way you can make the best possible career for yourself in the field you are already succeeding in. No need for further education (and debt) and you clearly already have strong mentors who believe in you. That is not an easy thing to find, and I think it would be a shame to throw it away for the sake of a piece of paper.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:56 AM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

While I don't have any advice on the resentment feeling (I have my own for different reasons), if you really like sustainable/green walls, etc. maybe try to get into a non profit. You can still keep your waitress job since it's what you like and pays well. Non profit doens't pay well (my friend is a lawyer with 16 years experience and she's making $40k tops) but peopel who work in the field are doing it more for the love than the money.

Shop around at any and all non-profit associations/groups and see if you can get in. Your love and associates may be good enough for them.
posted by stormpooper at 7:06 AM on January 5, 2012

Getting an education and learning is a marathon, not a sprint. You have, by medical average, close to 50 years ahead of you. Do not waste that time being resentful.

There is nothing shameful about working, dreaming, doing, learning. The only shameful things are not doing good things for those around you and the general community. Why give power over your precious mental self to people who do not care?

I took a circuitous route in my education and though I have moments, I do not let those moments hamper me. You live in a nation where second, if not third acts are possible. Education is available for everyone. Don't lose sight of now ruminating about the past.
posted by jadepearl at 7:10 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm coming in to second and expand on RJ Reynolds point about your green wall experience. I'm assuming you learned something about bureaucratic red tape through that process. Did you learn about complex jurisdictional issues on zoning? What about lead times and paperwork for the permitting processes? Appeals (or lack thereof) processes? Not to mention all the hoops for getting grants. Most important of all is do you know what went wrong and how to do it better next time? Those are extremely valuable things to know, and because many of the details vary immensely based on jurisdiction, schools can only touch on them in general terms, the specifics come only from experience.

Where I'm going with this is that even though you didn't get a green wall built, you have the experience of attempting the effort and that gives you a leg up. I think you may be greatly under-estimating the value of that experience. Getting permission to build is a *huge* issue for any architectural undertaking. IMO you should highlight your learnings from that experience in resumes, interviews and networking, I think you might be surprised at how well it would be received.
posted by forforf at 7:15 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unemployment soars among college majors like architecture

If you went back to school, I suggest you do it cheaply and find a major that pays well after graduation. Being passionate about what you do is totally overrated. There's only so much passion that can be sustained when getting a lousy paycheck. You're a waitress, which requires you to have the most important skill: getting along with random people. You could make a lot of money in sales. You can still have an architecture-type hobby, which would probably be more satisfying.
posted by anniecat at 7:53 AM on January 5, 2012

Cut waitressing to part-time. Start working in architecture. There aren't a lot of jobs right now, but there ARE a lot of volunteer opportunities.

Also, while normally I agree with the sentiment anniecat expresses (major in something that'll get you a job!), an architecture degree isn't exactly an English Lit degree, where you graduate with few skills. Architects are trained in all sorts of design, including 3D modeling and drafting. There is demand for these fields.

I know there's plenty to do with the degree even if architecture jobs aren't there, because my SO has an architecture degree, and is very marketable. Of course, she CHOSE to make herself as marketable as possible while in school by going above and beyond when learning every graphics program available to her. Like everything else, you get out of an architecture degree what you put into it.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:21 AM on January 5, 2012

I forgot to actually answer the question directly:

You feel resentment because it seems like you're treading water until you reach your goal. So stop treading water by waitressing and start doing something meaningful to you. It might suck being even more strapped financially, but it's well worth it in the long run.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:23 AM on January 5, 2012

Just want to pop in to say that I once worked a restaurant in a college town. The two waitresses in the bar area had PhDs in social work -- they were social workers but they needed to live. I was getting my law degree and needed health insurance. I worked with a college professor who needed health insurance, an architechtural student:) at least two other guys who were getting their PhDs in something I don't remember. Once of the regular patrons was absolutely shocked to find out my coworker was studying to be an architect. I guess he thought we were all airheads or something when really all of us were driven professionals who were trying to get money and health insurance where we could find it.

So see you're not alone. And if takes you four years to get a degree, you'll be studying something your passionate about for four years, and then you'll have another 30-35 years of a career. That's not so bad is it?
posted by bananafish at 8:32 AM on January 5, 2012

The thing about working as a server is that, as you've said, the money is good. And, as you point out, you are making more than people with new degrees in entry level positions. That's always going to be true and I don't know that there is a way around it. At some point you're going to have to make the leap and live really close to the bone.

My path was crooked, too, I got my degree in my late 20s and it was no free ride. I worked full time graveyards the first year, then part time and volunteered the whole rest of the degree, which took 6 years. I still graduated with a shit-ton of debt.

I get all resentful about friends and co-workers whose parents paid for their schooling, and who have houses and husbands and fifteen years of pensionable work but that attitude is so corrosive. I know I have other friends who resent the hell out of me and my fancy salary and four years of pensionable service--because all the work I did to get here is invisible to them, just as the work other people did is invisible to me. That old saw about not comparing your insides to others' outsides is a good one.

I support the idea of going on information interviews with folks working in environmental design and architecture and asking them for advice. Talk to folks who do hiring, if possible, and ask them what they would need to see from you to make you an attractive candidate. Then do that. If at all possible, go to a school that offers a co-op programme or some other way to get paid work in your field while you study. But being ready and willing to live with virtually no cash for a few years will probably help.
posted by looli at 9:05 AM on January 5, 2012

Seconding Rock Steady's recommendation.

Remember this a million times over: You don't have to go to school in order to learn.

Say it over and over, because you're not the type that should be going to school for a degree. You change your mind too much and leap from topic to topic. That's ok, but that's not okay for school. School is for people that know exactly what they want so they can go get it and be done with school.

You want to do some big project? Like that green wall? You said you're making good money, so save it up and do it. Then you don't have to be bothered by the red tape of a grant. Need to make a little more money to make it possible? Make that move to management and/or cut your living expenses to the bone.
posted by symbollocks at 11:16 AM on January 5, 2012

This is a very good thing to read for jealousy and bitter feelings, especially regarding higher education.
posted by griselda at 11:23 AM on January 5, 2012

I forgot two things earlier that have been nagging at me, so apologies for the follow-up, but:

1. I totally agree with those who emphasised your people skills. That's huge! That's not a given! Please don't underestimate yourself.

2. Again, if you were thinking about architecture but not sure, doing a few additional years without finishing would be an extremely expensive route right back to where you are. (Having learned lots etc, but The Satisfaction of Learning could be had cheaper and easier.) I'm an architecture graduate and I don't mean to sound obsessed with this, but it's really important to emphasise that if one wants to be an architect, it requires the full journey to be let in at the bottom.

Good luck!
posted by carbide at 1:59 PM on January 5, 2012

Concerning #2, realize at least that everyone looks upon someone else's grass as greener. Everyone. It's ridiculous. I did the opposite of you, wish I'd done what you did. It's just how our stupid brains work.

The only way out of resentment is to get sick of it. To accept the path you're on, with all the things about it that make it unique (good and bad). This is not always easy.
posted by ead at 8:09 PM on January 5, 2012

You guys are all very helpful. Thank you for the kind words and the tough love. It helps a lot to hear that the job I have is still a decent living. Trust me, after years of doing it and enough complaints from people that assume you can read their minds, it wears on you. Getting a perspective from the outside is refreshing. It's hard doing this job day in and day out without a thank you and I think it wears me down. A lot. But every response here is helpful and gives me hope.

I have a lot to think about but I do think I am going to seek out an environmental degree. I know, and some of you have reiterated, that architecture is sort of a daring degree. I quite honestly don't have the money to risk on it. And I love the environmental part enough that I could be happy doing that.

A selfless plug while I'm at it..... I'm originally from Ohio. There's a thing called fracking that is going on there that is a big deal. Whether or not you've heard of it, it's a big deal. And it's coming to a town near you if we don't stop it. Check this out.
posted by smeater44 at 3:02 AM on January 6, 2012

The reason you feel bitter and resentful is because you want to have your cake and eat it too. You had a GREAT time in your twenties and you knew you were trading a sucky time for a good one. Now you want to be where your peers are without having to go through major suck.

Unfortunately you can't. You have to own your decisions.

The thing that you CAN do is to change what you do today and tomorrow. And doing THAT will make the bitter and resentment feelings go away because you will no longer be taking the position of a victim (how did this happen to me) but as an empowered person in your own life (this happened to me, I chose for it, and now i am on x y or z path).

You want some suggestions, here they are:
- Go back IMMEDIATELY to the owners of the restaurant where you work and tell them you would like to be considered for management roles - this looks good on your resume and (hopefully)
- Pick the degree path that gets you a degree in the SHORTEST time and CHEAPEST cost, with that degree esp environmental studies you can do lots of things, including architecture
- Work with other volunteers to develop that green wall

The fact is that you spent years partying while your peer group was working their asses off. Now you have a focused idea of what you want, you have to work your ass off. Get over the bitter and get going. One last thought, it seems when one opportunities come along you turn them down (management - too much stress, not fun) or get easily discouraged; its feels like there is a strong element of self-saboutage. You need to get a hold of that and not let yourself give up. When it gets difficult is when it gets intersting. You need to own that and let yourself take up the challenge. No one gets an easy life, so the less time you spend focused on others, the more time you have to take up the challenge.

Good luck!
posted by zia at 4:57 AM on January 6, 2012

Meant to say:

(hopefully) pays more but either way shows progression, ambition and management aptitude
posted by zia at 5:01 AM on January 6, 2012

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