What should I do with my life?
September 26, 2005 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I no longer have anything tying me down - what should I do with my life?

I recently lost my job, which caused me to drop out of college. I have about $1,000 in resources, a paid-off car and a desire to actually do something with my life during this time where I have no formal commitment to anything. What are some good options to explore at this point?
posted by Hot Like Your 12V Wire to Grab Bag (41 answers total)
Visit every state (and have a beer that is locally brewed).
posted by mic stand at 11:48 AM on September 26, 2005

Move to a big city, if only for a year or so.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:48 AM on September 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Finish college.
posted by bshort at 11:55 AM on September 26, 2005

Sell your car and buy a bike. And finish college.
posted by batboy at 11:58 AM on September 26, 2005

Now is a great time to be a volunteer, especially if you can find a program to feed you and house you while you work. You'll meet lots of new people and maybe get some training. There seem to be lots of things in Kansas.
posted by Alison at 12:00 PM on September 26, 2005

Move to another country for a while. Join a volunteer organization. Write a novel. Skydive. Learn to drive a bus.
posted by phrits at 12:00 PM on September 26, 2005

1. another country for a year
2. finish college (with a major you care about)
posted by craniac at 12:04 PM on September 26, 2005

Work as a hotdog/peanut/soda/beer vendor at a major league sports stadium (pref baseball) and try to work your way up to mascot
posted by unccivil at 12:10 PM on September 26, 2005

...then go back to college
posted by unccivil at 12:12 PM on September 26, 2005

get a mini-winnie and start driving south. Stop when you run out of road.
posted by luriete at 12:14 PM on September 26, 2005

1. Go to another country for a year.
2. Get another job.
3. Finish School.

You could also try it in 2- 3 - 1 order. 3 - 1 - 2 order or other combinations there of work, but may cause you to have large debts.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:16 PM on September 26, 2005

I'd vote for your looking for a job, since the $1,000 isn't going to last very long - two months, if you pay (say) $300 per month in rent. You have the luxury of taking (a bit more?) time to look for a job, since you're not desperate, which means you're more likely to find one that you enjoy.

A paid-up car is nice (if it has any value, you can probably borrow against it, if things get desperate, or even sell it), but with gasoline prices what they are, driving across the county isn't that feasible (at, say, 7 miles to the dollar, a trip to either coast, and back, from Kansas, would cost around $500 just for gasoline).

There really isn't anything wrong with saving up money until you know what you want to do, as opposed to deciding to spend money because you have it.
posted by WestCoaster at 12:18 PM on September 26, 2005

go ski for the winter somewhere in the western mountains.
posted by alkupe at 12:23 PM on September 26, 2005

Experiment with your Mother Theresa side. Take a low-paying job that involves helping people. One suggestion: I believe relief agencies are staffing up on temps who can help them out on the Gulf Coast. There's also some posts here on Metafilter about the Peace Corps (but I think they require college).

Your reaction to that work will tell you a lot about what is truly important to you.
posted by profwhat at 12:32 PM on September 26, 2005

read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
posted by craniac at 12:35 PM on September 26, 2005

Get out of Lawerence. It's rather easy for people to get trapped their until they hit 30 or so. The fact it's such a large and diverse college town gives a psuedo-large town feel. The constant coming and going of young people gives the impression there's always something to do and no need to advance. I think the fact that KU is probably the nicest college town I've been to (as far as being clean, well maintained streets, no run down depressing feel to it) adds a lot to the stuck there mentality. People who get stuck there are a lot like that chapter from The Odyssey where Ulysses just gets involved with that goddess and he doesn't realize he's been there for 10 years.

Of course I know people living nicely there in apartments that would cost $1400 in Manhattan for only $300 a month. So good luck with that $1000 thing.
posted by geoff. at 12:38 PM on September 26, 2005

The Red Cross could really use your help down in the Gulf. Your local chapter will train you in an afternoon and have you on a plane within the week. Stints are in three-week chunks. Go for one stint. If you like it, stay on and keep helping.
posted by waldo at 12:43 PM on September 26, 2005

Sell your car, buy a ticket to a South East Asian country and just wander from there. Selfish, but will likely change the way you look at the world (for better or worse).
posted by shoepal at 12:54 PM on September 26, 2005

I'd say "go abroad" but it is easier to get a job abroad when you have a college degree, so I'll say "do what you need to finish college, then go abroad."
posted by adamrice at 12:59 PM on September 26, 2005

Find some things to tie you back down. Get another job, get back in college, and get serious about where you live.
posted by cptnrandy at 1:03 PM on September 26, 2005

Er, $1000 isn't a lot of money. You should try to build your reserves to much more than that before you consider yourself a free spirit.
posted by madman at 1:06 PM on September 26, 2005

Sell the car, work a year in a different country, save up during that, come home, finish college.

Your current $1000 won't do you squat for college, but it may lead you to an adventure and a chance to earn more to be able to do better for the rest of your life.
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:19 PM on September 26, 2005

Food and gas will wipe you out very quickly with just $1000. You probably won't last half a year on that. So put your money in an international bank account and join the Peace Corp.
posted by nixerman at 1:39 PM on September 26, 2005

You don't have a lot of money. If you are going to travel, I would highly recommend going the hostel route. Staying at a hostel, you can get basic lodging for as low as ten bucks a night.
posted by Independent Scholarship at 2:02 PM on September 26, 2005

Get a new job, then study abroad in college. (Or sell your car, then study abroad in college. Whichever works.)
posted by itchie at 2:02 PM on September 26, 2005

Peace Corps has been mentioned, how about AmeriCorps?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:02 PM on September 26, 2005

if you have techie skills check out Geek Corps. Or the old standby Peace Corps.
posted by joshgray at 2:03 PM on September 26, 2005

if it was some other time you probably could have joined the ROTC or something like that to finish your college. But these days I am not so sure its a good idea. You probably will get shipped out faster than you can blink.

Part of me wants to say do some soul searching and figure out what you REALLY enjoy doing (something that can be turned into a livlihood) and try to find a job as an apprentice or intern. Things like writing, photography, arts, park ranger, tour guide, etc.

But I believe, like most here, you need to finish college, hopefully sooner than later. But do not waste your best years in a grad school, like myself, unless you feel you are cut out for it.

Do not know whether studying in another country (combined with a local job) with cheaper education expenses is a viable option.
posted by flyby22 at 2:04 PM on September 26, 2005

Geek Corps is a great idea. Only problem is I believe they have a long waiting list last time I checked.
posted by flyby22 at 2:11 PM on September 26, 2005

Come to Mississippi and volunteer.

We need the help oh so badly... plus, you won't nicer people anywhere on this earth.

You can live for free with a local church group... so you'll save money while changing lives.
posted by bamassippi at 2:27 PM on September 26, 2005

Re: The Peace Corps suggestions above--they typically require a college degree, unless you have signficant experience in an area such as carpentry or agriculture. (Just wanted to clear that up.)
posted by handful of rain at 2:30 PM on September 26, 2005

Peace Corps/AmeriCorps or other volunteer work is a good idea if you don't intend this to help in whatever you do next.
posted by abcde at 2:31 PM on September 26, 2005

I recently lost my job, which caused me to drop out of college.

Have you spoken with the financial aid office, and the chair of the department in which you major? Tell them what is going on. They may find a way for you to finish.
posted by LarryC at 2:40 PM on September 26, 2005

1) Save money.
2) Sell car, buy motorcycle.
3) Get to Guatemala, or further south.
posted by dsword at 4:23 PM on September 26, 2005

Sell car. Go to school. Ever see Fight Club? Tommorrow could be the best day of your life...
posted by phrontist at 5:43 PM on September 26, 2005

My brother worked for a year and saved every penny he could. Then he bought an open-ended round-the-world plane ticket. The deal was that he had to make the trip in a year and he had to continually head west. He drive cross country, left his car with my dad and took off. He really enjoyed the trip.

He then worked for a few years under the same model and then moved to Pnom Penh and taught university level computer science classes there for a year. He came back, spent a several years getting a PhD, got married, had a son and is now a professor of Philosophy. I don't think he ever expected his life to take these turns.
posted by plinth at 6:53 PM on September 26, 2005

As noted above, $1000 won't get you far. Sell your car. Finish college. If possible, take part in a co-operative education program, so you can get some good work experience and money. Save like crazy. Take a big trip when you graduate. You'll feel even freer with minimal debt, education and experience.

If you absolutely must go off for a while, sign up for at least one correspondence course a term and try to keep your expenses to a minimum. It will be easier to go back to college, if you do that.
posted by acoutu at 7:45 PM on September 26, 2005

Read Po Branson’s "What Should I Do With My Life? The real meaning of success -- and how to find it"
posted by growabrain at 8:22 PM on September 26, 2005

If I was in your shoes, I'd effect the year abroad by applying to be a JET in Japan. Unfortuanately, I didn't find out about this program until I was too old to be eligible. After your year is complete, come back and finish school.

read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

...if you can. Many rave about thisbook, but I find it unreadable.
posted by Rash at 2:01 AM on September 27, 2005

Volunteer, then finish school, then career.

Namibia Year:
WorldTeach volunteers in Namibia work as English, mathematics, science, and computer studies Subject Teachers in a wide range of schools, including primary schools, secondary schools, and adult training facilities. In addition to their subject teaching, interested volunteers are also encouraged to serve as HIV/AIDS Resource Teachers. Many teaching placements are in relatively remote areas.

The program departs in December (usually after the Christmas holiday). Volunteers are in-country for approximately 12 months.
posted by pracowity at 2:34 AM on September 27, 2005

Hot Like Your 12V Wire: How old are you, and what do you want to do? In my case, spending a few years living and working on another continent (Europe) was a great way to grow up and give me a whole new perspective on life. I'd suggest saving enough money to allow you to travel for a few months. Use that time to look for a place you like, and figure out a way to stay there for awhile. It's not too difficult for an enterprising American to live in Europe for a year - teaching English, teaching a musical instrument (if you can) and working in an Irish pub are relatively easy ways to fund your stay.

growabrain: Thanks for the FastCompany link!
posted by syzygy at 5:59 PM on October 30, 2005

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