I would really appreciate some career and life advice
June 29, 2014 9:09 AM   Subscribe

At the moment, I'm feeling at a loose end and really direction-less. I don't know what I want to do with my life and it's making me feel really depressed. I have no short or long term goals. I'm in the process of being referred for CBT and have taken up running to treat the depression.

As soon as I get interested in something I lose interest. I'm lazy and I get bored really easily, this stops me from getting better at things I enjoy like guitar. I get to a certain level of skill then, plateau and lose have the motivation to progress. It feels like I've been depressed and unsatisfied on and off for most of my young adult life.

I graduated last year with a degree in Film Production, I lost interest in the subject in my second year but stuck with it because of sunk cost and not knowing what else I wanted to do. I did pick up a few things from it but have no real interest in filmmaking as a career. I only studied it because I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to study when I was 18 and I had a vague interest in the subject.

Here I am a year later, I have no idea what I want to do as a career other than the vague concept of wanting to do something that helps others. Here are the things I'm interested in/care about: Sociology, Psychology, Gender Studies, Politics, Philosophy, Music and Feminism. I've never studied any of these academically or done anything other than read about and discuss them. I would like to study them but I don't have the money to go back to school and won't be given any more loans even if I wanted to (student loans company in the UK). I'd maybe do a masters but my undergrad isn't relevant to any of the above subjects and I lack the formal foundational knowledge/study. I also don't want to commit years of my life to a subject that I might potentially lose interest in just like film.

Most of my work experience has been retail which I don't enjoy, so at least I can rule that out as a career.

I read a lot of advice online and I know that things like volunteering would be good for me, I researched local opportunities but couldn't find anything that actually interested me. My town isn't that small but it seems like there's nothing here. I just feel so trapped and claustrophobic, I want to get and do things - travel and see the world. But I'm just so afraid. I spend a lot of time in my bedroom alone. I have very few friends and even the ones I do have I never see because they are busy or have their own lives.

I know already some of the things I need to do to make my life better like being more social, making new friends, getting out of my comfort zone, faking it till I make it, volunteering, travelling, exercise, mindfulness meditation but it doesn't really seem to make any difference if I don't have the motivation and a concrete place to start.

What can I do to get out of this rut? I don't want to feel so lost any more.
posted by fallingleaves to Human Relations (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Can't help with the longer term as I struggle with all the same questions... in the shorter term maybe think about trying Yoga (can dip in and out and it can be weirdly cathartic.. I was a sceptic but it has made me cry which can be quite cleansing I find), and co counselling international as a safe space (there is an initial outlay).

If you're thinking re: uni again.. in this climate don't do anything that is not potentially job related.. the only thing worse than feeling like shit is that plus being totally skint.

Re: the helping people.. I dunno.. I am a professional 'helper' who has struggled with depression forever. I have a lot of empathy in my work.. but I'm not going to lie to you it's ******* hard sometimes - when you struggle, to prop up other people too. Maybe there is less direct helping like getting involved in social policy or urban planning (he latter could get you out and about a bit too.. good for low mood).

My interests come and go to.. so I don't commit to volunteering on a long term basis but prefer to give of myself in bursts..

Options might be - helping out at a street party, volunteering on holidays with people with disabilities (Winged Fellowship was one think new name now)... and/or Buddhist retreats?

That way you have a bit of adventure but are not signing your life away or socially isolated. Life is really tough for young graduates these days. Good luck to you.
posted by tanktop at 9:38 AM on June 29, 2014

Tanktop covered the spiritual fulfillment end of the question, so I'll talk employment: Maybe look at potential careers you can start with the skills you have now, and build through-lines to places you think you might want to be from there? It's easier to change jobs once you have a job, and a job pays you to learn. If you have a job where you're not learning (and you want to be learning), I'd argue that you should change things until you are learning things.

The skills you have now may be valuable in more diverse settings than you think. Film production involves a lot of planning + execution on tight timetables; that might be a selling point for all sorts of non-film work. You're also probably good at working out how to use esoteric technical equipment.
posted by Alterscape at 10:15 AM on June 29, 2014

Video production would be really useful for nonprofits or social enterprises. There might be things you could do (editing, for example) remotely as a volunteer, but I would also recommend trying to find a job with the skills you have. Just working, even if it's not your ultimate ideal job forever, will help you get moving, and you can continue to explore your interests, and maybe move in another direction as you go along. You can also continue to volunteer on the side to help find fulfillment—a job doesn't have to fulfill all of your needs in terms of creativity/service.
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:51 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just to nth a comment above: I was on the board of a charitable foundation which usually got requests for grants in the form of a couple sheets of paper. Badly written and badly organized. Then we got a video made by and featuring Ron Howard. Huge difference.

BTW, Howard was involved with the org he represented, not just a shill.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Volunteer at a Fire Department for a while, if you live someplace where that is an option. Get yourself a seasonal job and travel. The notion of a career is antiquated at best, most people can't turn their passion into a job, so you need to get a job that allows you time to explore until you find your passion. If you're still trying to figure things out next April, apply for jobs in Alaska, I was in a similar position 11 years ago and I'm still here, making the most of it. I certainly am not happy all the time, but I'm doing a hell of a lot better than I was when I was living in Seattle trying to live by the societal norm.
posted by maleru at 2:14 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know already some of the things I need to do to make my life better

Hopefully you take this in the spirit in which it is given and read this in a very friendly tone:

No, you don't know. When we know, we do.

You can say you know, you can say, "I know, I know, I know", but when you REALLY know it, you do it.


Person A: Wow, you're boyfriend is a jerk! Pushing you out into traffic like that and getting you run over by cars was a dick move! He's abusive! You deserve better!

Person B: I know, I know, but blah blah blah, I love him, excuses.

The person who really and truly KNOWS their boyfriend is a push-you-out-in-traffic type of person, dumps their mf ass.

Second example:

Person A: Robbing that liquor store is a really dumb idea. You will probably end up in prison for a long time and your kids will suffer terribly!

Person B: I know, I know, robbing stores is a bad idea, but we need milk.

See, you can say you know some of the things you need to do to make your life better, you know, you know, you know... but if you REALLY knew, KNEW KNEW, then you would be making some moves, micro choices, to change your situation. I couldn't begin to tell you what motivates you, but on a basic level, the motivation has to come from inside of you. And if you really and truly KNOW what you need to do, you will begin somewhere, anywhere. Baby steps or jumping in feet first, whatever works for you.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 5:05 PM on June 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

One way you can "start from a concrete place" is to prioritize taking action, instead of letting negative feelings dictate and consume your days. I've been there -- it's so, so easy to spiral into feelings of inadequacy and futility once one entertains that first negative thought (i.e. I'm lazy/I get bored easily/I've lost interest/etc), and inevitably feeling a lot shittier after realizing how much time/opportunity was squandered.

I suggest that you begin cultivating the habit of being proactive. Decide that you want to and will get out of this rut. Experiment being on do-er mode for the first few hours of your day. Work with what you got right now (i.e your degree and skills), even if you've lost interest in film production, and focus on getting a job/internship/volunteer opportunity.

Remember that wherever you end up landing from here will be your stepping stone, not the end-all be-all. Wherever you end up landing will give you structure, life experience, expand your connections, and help you gain some ideas on what next step to take.

Good luck to you.
posted by tackypink at 10:37 PM on June 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

« Older Will JC Denton play nicely with a Snow Leopard?   |   Explain reparations to me like I'm an alien Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.