Is there more than this?
January 22, 2007 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Is there more to life than just this? There is a lot more, don't worry.

I tried searching older questions and didn't come across anything that really helped. Here's the situation... I'm 23, and not just out of college, didn't have the money to go. I hung around not doing anything for a year or two after high school and then I went to trade school and right into the workforce immediately upon completion. So I've been working in the medical billing field for about 3-4 years. I have a steady job that I'm quite good at. I've got a 401K, and a nice car. I live in a cute house (renting with a friend, not owned by me.) I even have a lovely boyfriend, we've been together for over a year now. I've been paying my own way since I starting working so I'm used to it. And I'm just about out of debt. Two more payments and I'm done.

I looked at, but they just seemed to be complaining that the read world was so hard because no one paid there bills anymore. It seems to me that I've accomplished the stuff that most people my age are trying to accomplish. I'm pretty stable.

I've been feeling very unfulfilled. I am considering moving as my boyfriend will be leaving in a few months to go to grad school. We've talked about me going with him, but we're not sure as we both love our personal space and we don't know where he is going just yet. I'd want to know the job market before commiting to anything anyway. I think that I may want to move someplace new. Right now, I live in a town which is college based, and great if you are going to school here, but is rather boring otherwise. (I'm a bit jealous to the people my age who complaining about how boring college is.) I'd have no problems moving on my own, beyond the normal moving is scary stuff, but I'm not sure where just yet.

I have a good faith for me, which I've thought about becoming more active in. I'm debating about helping more in the campgrounds I go to in the summer. I've thought about taking a few classes at the community college for computers, so I can be more self-suficient. I can cook and bake, (a major accomplishment for me), I'm learning to sew, but something still feels like it's missing from my life.

I will readily accept that I'm being some sort of pretenious twentysomething and that I haven't gotten it all figured out just yet. But is this all there is? Am I supposed to wash, rinse, repeat for the rest of my life? I'm at a loss for what I'm supposed to do for fulfillment. My job doesn't do it. My hobbies make me happy, but something is still missing. I love my boyfriend dearly, but neither of us is ready for marriage or anything like that. I can't find fulfillment and I feel a little empty inside. What to do? Thanks for reading all of this, I'm long winded I know.
posted by Attackpanda to Human Relations (46 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Now that you seem relatively stable, have you thought about going back to school and getting your undergraduate degree? College provides a lot more than job opportunities. You can meet people, learn things you never knew and in the process, try out things and activities you may find you have a passion for. Even if you don't figure it out, having a degree at the end of it is a nice accomplishment.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 7:29 AM on January 22, 2007

You already have a list of things that will help you feel more fulfilled. Attack this list, one item at a time. Start today:

I have a good faith for me, which I've thought about becoming more active in. I'm debating about helping more in the campgrounds I go to in the summer. I've thought about taking a few classes at the community college for computers, so I can be more self-sufficient. I can cook and bake, (a major accomplishment for me), I'm learning to sew, but something still feels like it's missing from my life.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:36 AM on January 22, 2007

I have a good faith for me, which I've thought about becoming more active in. I'm debating about helping more in the campgrounds I go to in the summer. I've thought about taking a few classes at the community college for computers, so I can be more self-suficient. I can cook and bake, (a major accomplishment for me), I'm learning to sew, but something still feels like it's missing from my life.

Do all of these things and put your heart and soul into them for a lengthy period of time and then sit back and re-evaluate your situation.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:38 AM on January 22, 2007

Well, in a lot of ways, this is pretty much what it's all about. Life is a long series of repetitions, each informed by the wisdom you gained from the last.

Oh, and anyone can get student loans, so if you want to go to college, it isn't as hard as you think.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:41 AM on January 22, 2007

I highly, HIGHLY, suggest you move out of a college town for a while. A year or five in NY or SF or Miami, or somthing will change your whole perspective on things.

Either that, or save money (which you can do now since you're out of debt) and travel like mad. Go to southeast asia, or spend a month in France.

You don't have to have everything figured out and settled by 23. If you don't like your life shake it up. Seek your fortune.

I also suggest reading The Alchemist. It's good for what ails ya.
posted by milarepa at 7:48 AM on January 22, 2007

Get your feelings sorted out on the boyfriend. You say you dearly love him but are apparently entirely willing to live without him which doesn't really add up. You need to either discover you're actually excited about commiting to a new life with him or separate making room for time as a single or for someone else who may bring more passion into your life. The rest will fall into place along similar lines. Sometimes you have to risk giving up good to get great.
posted by scheptech at 7:51 AM on January 22, 2007

Croutonsupafreak - I have started on some of those things. Getting more involved in my faith requires a relocation as it's not a major faith in the town I live in. The campgrounds don't need help until it is the summer, I've asked already. The community college doesn't start classes that I could take until August. The summer classes they offer conflict with my work schedule, and it's too late for spring semester. I can pretty much read any recipe and make it. I cook mostly from scratch too. Sewing makes me happy, but I still feel like I'm missing something.

I'm not trying to whine or make excuses, I just feel like I've exhausted all the ideas that I could come up with. I didn't know if I was missing something blatantly obvious. Or if there was some giant secret I was unaware of.

Sorry to blather on. I'm being fitted for my muzzle later today. :)
posted by Attackpanda at 7:51 AM on January 22, 2007

Were you raised in a spiritual or religious tradition that you have lost touch with? Perhaps you could start attending religious services again; that might help.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:58 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's no great secret; each of us has to work out what makes us feel fulfilled, and unfortunately that usually takes years of flailing around. Try to have faith that you'll eventually sort it out; meanwhile, moving would probably be a good first step, since you know you're not happy where you are. (And yeah, I hate to say it but it doesn't sound like your boyfriend is the love of your life. Not saying you should break up with him, just don't plan your future around him.)
posted by languagehat at 8:00 AM on January 22, 2007

One chapter in C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters deals with this feeling you describe, that life is just a bunch of relatively boring stuff repeating over and over. He argues powerfully for the beauty that can and should be found in these repetitions. I can't come close to paraphrasing it, but it's the only thing I've ever read that's made me feel ok about the wash-rinse-repeat-ness of life. My mind always wants to say, "No, no, there MUST be something more than this!" and is then continually disappointed when I realize again that there's not - but reading and re-reading that bit of Screwtape helps me get into a better mindset. (The rest of the book is fantastic too. Yeah, it's a Christian book, but I'm an atheist and I still found tons of useful stuff in there. Check it out.)
posted by vytae at 8:01 AM on January 22, 2007 [6 favorites]

Different people gain fulfillment in different ways. Some people are quite content with lives like you've described, others aren't. Many people find that they're most happy when they feel they're making a difference, improving the world by their presence. This could be through a career that benefits mankind (above and beyond the undoubted benefits of medical billing), volunteer work, or... whatever turns your crank.

You're going to have to work out for yourself what gives you the most satisfaction. For me, it's constantly trying to improve myself and learn more, then sharing that knowledge with others. My wife uses her formidable talents to assist arts organizations and non-profit businesses. Your new mission is to figure out what does it for you.
posted by agropyron at 8:03 AM on January 22, 2007

You are so young. You are single and not tied down, the sky is the limit. Don't worry so much about being fulfilled. Who the hell is fulfilled? Do things you enjoy, whatever they may be. Cook and sew until your heart is content. Move if you want to move. Don't mull it around in your head so much. Do something brave.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:04 AM on January 22, 2007

It sounds to me like you simply don't have anything to be excited about. I agree with the suggestions about moving to a big city, or taking some time out to travel. On the other side of things, you could focus on saving up a deposit to buy your own place. Your hobbies sound great for making day to day existence more pleasurable but it seems like you need some Big Events in your life.
posted by teleskiving at 8:04 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Let me tell you what _I_ do? I program! I just sit all day and work on the many little problems that my software throws at me, and it feels good when things work. It feels even better making a sale.

What I'm saying is this: A job gets you money, but if you can turn something you love into something that could support you, you'll never be bored. It is so much better to live hand to mouth, doing what you love doing best, than being safe and bored.
posted by markesh at 8:04 AM on January 22, 2007

I don't think you've blathered on. You have survival skills and you've expressed a readiness for passion. There are many places to wash, rinse and repeat. Come work in Australia for a year. See if you can find inspiration here. Go experience the world.
posted by de at 8:06 AM on January 22, 2007

we spend most of our lives working...find a job you love to do and you will up your chances of becoming very happy every single day
posted by Salvatorparadise at 8:07 AM on January 22, 2007

Attackpanda: you're right, there is a secret - but it wouldn't mean anything if I told you what it was.

Ok, fine. The secret is to pretend you know what life is about, and never tell anyone that you've figured out there really is no secret.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:09 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Then read The Dice Man.
posted by flabdablet at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can find the money, TRAVEL. Doesn't matter where, really, just do it. It's the best thing for jolting you out of a rut, giving you new perspective, helping you clear your mind and figure out (as much as possible) what you really want out of your life. I also 2nd the idea of going back to school - you seem smart and motivated, and you might really enjoy the new environment and the social and mental stimulation it can give you.
posted by walla at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2007

scheptech - the thing with the bf is that we love each other, but we both know that sometimes we want the other person to be in the other room and not be attached at the hip. I've been like this in every relationship, so has he. My worry about moving someplace new with him is that we'll be in a little apartment and can't get away from each other and end up breaking up because there's too much time spent together and not enough apart. The house that we live in has enough rooms so that we aren't always in each other's faces.
posted by Attackpanda at 8:27 AM on January 22, 2007

My worry about moving someplace new with him is that we'll be in a little apartment and can't get away from each other and end up breaking up because there's too much time spent together and not enough apart.

Honestly, if you're willing to let him move to a different city rather than live with him in a small apartment, perhaps you should reevaluate your relationship. Long distance relationships work much less often than relationships where you're stuck in a small apartment together.

Having said that, I'm not sure we can really solve your problem. "I feel like I'm missing out on something" is a bit open ended. You're the only one who can decide what makes you happy. Go out and try tons of different things. Save up, and go on a backpacking holiday for a month in Europe. Or Australia. Or South America. Shake things up. If the current routine is too... routine... then you need to change your routine. Do something that you've never even considered doing before. If you don't like it, well, you at least tried.
posted by antifuse at 9:14 AM on January 22, 2007

Travel at 23 doesn't have to be expensive. Tens of thousands of 20-something Australians are doing it for pennies as we speak. Go to a student travel agent (ITC or something) with a student ID card (if you don't have one, see if you can get one somehow... I had one even when I wasn't in college because of a tricky friend). Get a cheap flight to Europe, a Eurailpass, & a hostel card & go away to destinations unknown for a month or two. You're at the perfect age for it (prices go up on Eurail after you're 26 I believe).

Explore the world. It'll help you figure yourself out when you get perspective on how much else there is out there. There's something to be said for getting on a train with friends you just met (you're rarely alone when you're in your 20s & backpacking through Europe) and hopping off at places just because you like the name of the town.

I took my first backpacking trip overseas when I was 24 & totally lost. I've now been to 23 countries and travel has become one of the most rewarding and incredible aspects of my lfe. I still talk to a friend I met in a youth hostel in Bath, England in 1989. Travel really gives you insights & bonding experiences that you'll never forget. You will NEVER EVER EVER regret doing it. I promise you.

Two more tips: 1. Read this book before you go. 2. Don't pack a hairdryer... they're a pain to carry & everyone else will have one.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:16 AM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

arts and children seem to be two popular choices besides those that have been mentioned (particulartly travel/adventure, religion/volunteering and interesting careers)
posted by lgyre at 9:25 AM on January 22, 2007

Am I supposed to wash, rinse, repeat for the rest of my life?

At 26 I basically had the same question, in a similar situation. I had to sit back and think about what I really wanted out of life, and what I really wanted to do with me life. I was relatively happy, but I knew there had to be more out there in the world for me.

For me, the answer was chucking it all out the window and joining the Navy. Not saying that's the answer for you, but I AM saying that a radical change may be in your future if you're 23 and feeling like there must be more to life. Personally, I never looked back - it was a great (if difficult) move. I can't even begin to imagine what life would be like now if I'd stayed in that situation.

Travel sounds like a great idea, but I'd also explore the idea of doing some serious soul searching... figure out what you WANT and go do it before you reach an age or situation where you really are trapped by circumstance. Conversley, identify what you DON'T want, and figure out how to get away from it.
posted by matty at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2007

I second (third? fourth?) the travel suggestion, or just anything that will throw you into a situation you're not used to. It's not until you have to think on your feet when there's no safety net around that you start to find out what you're made of.

Think big, like a round-the-world ticket or joining the Peace Corps. If you can't afford it, make a project out of saving up for it and have that as something to look forward to.
posted by ukdanae at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2007

You are far, far too young to feel washed up just yet. The world is literally your oyster. Crack it open and drink it in. You seem a bit bitter that you did not go to college. Do you really want to go? Money needn't be an issue with grants and loans, although you will take on staggering debt so take this option only if college is a real goal versus just something you think you should do. For most people college is a life enriching experience in many ways, not just as a stepping stone to better jobs.
posted by caddis at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2007

There is no one answer; there is no right answer. If there's a meaning of life, it may be figuring out the meaning of life for yourself.

Did you ever have dreams of what you wanted to do or accomplish or create, even as a child? It might help to dust those off and try them on for size again.

Do what you are afraid to do, and grow.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2007

I think the "Just out of college, quarterlife crisis" thing isn't so much just about having to pay bills, though on the surface it may feel or look that way. I think a large part of it is "OK, I've accomplished the goals that I've been setting for myself since childhood. I finished school, I have a job, I've assembled the beginnings of an adult life. Now what?"

I think almost all of us have that "Now what?" feeling, at points in our lives where our old goals have been accomplished and so we must create new goals.

So, as others have said, you need to figure out what goals you want for your life. I think things like the Myers-Briggs test or other "What should I do with my life" testing can help point you in certain directions; talking to friends or counselors or your partner about what makes you excited about your life, and how to incorporate more of that, is also great. It sounds, from what you're talking about wanting to pursue, that helping others may be a goal for you, so maybe think about pursuing that in some way you can do now (even if it's just filling out the application for summer camp, or calling around to various organizations and seeing how you can volunteer). Or maybe there's some other thing that motivates you -- gathering knowledge, experiencing the world, making art, building up a financially comfortable future for yourself. Even if it takes you a while to sit with the question and think about it, you'll probably eventually figure out what makes you happy and what course you should pursue, if you do take the time and space to think about it.

It may take years, and you may have several false starts, but I do think that if you always have an idea in the back of your mind that you want to find the path your life should take -- as opposed to only filling the current moment -- that you'll start to find the opportunities you need to do so.

So just start trying stuff, planning stuff, doing stuff. You can't take classes at the community college -- what about calling the university and seeing if you can audit some lectures? What about pottery classes or yoga classes or photography classes or writing classes or some other non-traditional classes offered through different organizations? Maybe it's just taking a walk every day and looking at the posters and fliers that are up and deciding to go to one public lecture a month, or the farmers' market, or selling your baked goods at the local school's bake sale. Just get out and do what you can to open yourself up to as many possibilities as possible; you can always scale back on the stuff that doesn't work, so don't limit yourself before you even try things.
posted by occhiblu at 10:04 AM on January 22, 2007 [3 favorites]

I hate to say it, but you're going to die. Someday. So make a list of the top 100 things you want to do before that happens. Then start doing them. You might have to stay at your present job in order to pay for that weekend of cliff-diving, or trip to Calcutta, or to save up so you can volunteer as many places as you can for a whole year.

Or you might spend the bucks to do a full-on aptitude test and try to find a career that fulfills you.

Dream big. And don't feel bad if you don't like to travel. I'm not a huge fan of overseas travel, so I've seen much of the states and also explored my city so I knew all the ins and outs. Then I considered becoming a travel guide until I moved to another city.

It's ok to feel aimless-- being a grown-up isn't a goal, it's a journey. You will never have "arrived"-- you will always be travelling. Make the journey worthwhile for yourself.
posted by orangemiles at 10:06 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

When you do something, do you put your entire self into it, or are you always thinking about something else?
posted by koudelka at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2007

I got to this point. I had one key realization:

Most of my life had been about "me."

It was realizing that living life for me didn't get me to where I was hoping to go that helped me decide to try living it differently.

That said, you can't just flip a switch and start living for other people, being completely selfless. But you can start working towards that goal. Get involved in mentoring / tutoring. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Like ThePinkSuperhero said, perhaps re-invigorate your faith and volunteer through your local church, et. al..

You'll be surprised how much fulfillment you find in giving yourself away.

Yeah, traveling might be great, maybe moving to a new big city, finding a new career or hobby or whatever. But in the end, those things will all be driven at getting you that fulfillment you're looking for, and you'll find that none of them actually do.

And, what vytae said. CS Lewis has a ton of great stuff that can help you get through these times, but The Great Divorce is an excellent starting point.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:23 AM on January 22, 2007

There is no magic in the career choice. Although I have many examples, I'll just cite the one of my former M.D., who having gone to the trouble to do med school and practice for quite a while, one day blew his brains out.

The magic, as far as I can tell, is growth. What can you do to grow? What you're describing now sounds a lot like someone who is stagnant (i.e., not growing), and if you keep it up, it will be Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Die. "Turning the crank" isn't much fun. "What's next?" is, in my experience.

Perhaps it will help to investigate other people's experience along these lines, and a handful of autobiographies might be a good thing for your short term reading list.

One of my favorites is "All the Strange Hours", Loren Eisley's autobiography. His life as a sickly child, a hobo, and a PhD naturalist writer of renown. His is a good illustration of how hard it is to predict the end of the book, as it were. At one point, he chose between being a murderer or not, in fact. I applaud his choice!

I am a big fan of continuing education, and think that the 20's are the time to get your educational bona fides in order, to set up a future that is brighter. You MAY be content now with that debt free world you live in, and your accomplishments to date, etc., but just because you didn't go doesn't mean you can't. You've shown dedication, commitment, and perserverance, as well as short term ability for self assessment. Mightn't college be in your future? Education broadens your horizons, and is always a good investment and a cheap way to personal growth. The things you can study are endless.

Good luck in your quest.
posted by FauxScot at 10:50 AM on January 22, 2007

I'm also in your position. 22, out of school, working (although not using my degree), great boyfriend, wondering what more there is?

For me so far it's been 1. hobbies and 2. having big things to look forward to. Like you, I've been cultivating my sewing skills (which has let me get in touch with my creative side and has also led me to cultivate an interest in fashion and design). I also have plans to learn how to knit (prompted by the fantastic/sexy projects in this book.) My other hobbies are snowboarding, dancing, and hula hooping and I do those as often as I can because I know they make me happy. I have a layman's interest in neuroscience and LED lights so I've been reading books like Mind Wide Open and I just purchased a bundle of LED lights online to tinker with and perhaps make a bright and blinky sign out of.

I'm also planning a trip to Spain in June with friends (we went to Amsterdam in November), AND will be returning to Burning Man this summer too so those experiences are something I'm really looking forward to!! When I get bored at work (unexciting desk job), I try to remember that it doesn't stress me out and that it pays the bills and supports my hobbies and traveling, and that eventually I will get into something more exciting (even though I have no career change plans whatsoever..yet!)

I don't know about you but I feel fulfilled when I'm excited about something, so I let myself get excited by small things. A fun party coming up, sewing a pleated skirt that fits perfectly, a great DJ I can go see and shake my butt to, etc. The other thing that makes me feel fulfilled are those super intimate moments with someone special, so I try to consciously, deeply appreciate those every chance I get.

I also live in a city (New York) that makes me feel very much alive and is filled with things to keep me entertained, intrigued, learning new things and meeting new people.
posted by infinityjinx at 11:18 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm going to offer the flip side of allkindsoftime - I realized instead of my life being all about me, that very little of my life had been about me. I'd spent most of it aiming for the things I was 'supposed' want and making decisions that I thought others would approve of and that would make their lives easier.

There is a secret to life, but it's different for everyone, and only you can figure out yours. Take some risks, try new things, immerse (and I mean really immerse) yourself in new experiences and figure out what gets you excited. It might be travelling, it might be settling down, and it might be something completely different.

But whatever it is, do what YOU need to do to make yourself happy, not what the people around you think is acceptable. As long as you're not sponging off them to make it happen, they shouldn't care.

The only thing I regret about my 20's is that I didn't take more chances, and let too many opportunities pass me by because I was scared of taking them, or convinced somehow I couldn't do them.
posted by scrute at 11:27 AM on January 22, 2007

You sound like you're bored. No, you don't wash, rinse & repeat life, blah. You spice it up, change it around, take risks, get out of your comfort zone and have fun.

Start by googling "Finding your passion" and ignore the stuff focusing on careers. The first link isn't all that bad:

What interest, passion or desire are you most afraid of admitting to yourself and others?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

What do you love about yourself?

What would you do if money was not a concern in your life?

What one thing do you dream about doing that you've never told anyone?

What do you fantasize about doing while driving your car or taking a shower?

Who do you know that's doing something you'd like to do? Describe yourself doing it.

How could you make the world a better place for yourself and others?

Who do you think you are? Have you labeled yourself a mother, student, caregiver? What are the other parts of you?

What did you love when you were a child?

What's stopping you from moving forward with exploring your passion?

List five things that you want. List five things that you're good at. Do you know the difference between them?

What drives you, and what gives you satisfaction?

When you were young, what did you know you would do when you grew up?

How would you like the world to be?

What would you regret not having done if your life was ending?
posted by LadyBonita at 12:18 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can't help you out with your more existential concerns but I do have some very general advice. Put as much money in the bank as you possibly can while you're figuring out what turns you on. Finish paying off that debt and don't take on anymore. Cut back on your expenses. Accumulating money isn't an end in itself but you can make it your short or medium term goal. You're not wasting time, you're planning for the future. When you've got something figured out then you'll be ready to go.

I'm 23 myself and have an unsatisfying but well compensated office job. What I described above is what I'm doing right now. The only gratifying thing about my job is the thought that every two weeks I'm that much closer to wasting all of my money opening Atlanta's finest and most criminally unappreciated independent cinema. It's a powerful dream, for me anyways, and I think that is what you need more than anything else. A dream, not a movie theatre.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 1:20 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here's the "Secret of Life" as far as I can figure it out (at 47).

Your Life doesn't come with a meaning built-in. You have to make one. Maybe it's family/kids, maybe it's great literature. maybe it's a great love with One Person. I dunno what it is for you.

But if you're looking for The Meaning Of Life (tm), you're asking the wrong question. You have to create the meaning in your own life.

And there's more than one right answer. Don't worry too much about it. Just keep looking.
posted by davereed at 1:20 PM on January 22, 2007

LadyBonita has it. Passion is the key, that one thing that you would pay to do. Maybe you don't know what that is yet, so you have to put yourself in lots of situations until that thing whacks you in the head. When you find yourself staying up late to work on it, then getting up early to keep going, then you're on to something.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:47 PM on January 22, 2007

i was looking at this again and just remembered to suggest the book "the artist's way", even if you don't think of yourself as an artist. it's kind of cheesy but i've had a lot of fun with it. it suggests a lot of exercises that have been mentioned here like taking an inventory of your interests and trying new things, but in small, manageable assignments that aren't too intimidating.
posted by lgyre at 6:18 PM on January 22, 2007

I’m sort of in the same boat you are, and I think the key is to keep yourself occupied. I know you’ve already got a list which you’re debating on (about working on the camp grounds—how about counseling?), and you could add more to the list—like learning how to rock climb, or skydive, or what ever you might think you’d be interested in. Or how about learning a new language?? It could be a way for you to meet new and interesting people, and that could possibly open the door for you to have more challenging and stimulating experiences:)
posted by hadjiboy at 8:54 PM on January 22, 2007

If the community college doesn't start classes for a few months, maybe you could look for a free university in the meantime? A free university isn't free in the sense of no money, but free in the sense of free admission--this is what I'm talking about. You won't get credits or a degree, but you can learn interesting or useful things and the classes are generally fun. Also--and this may be an upside or a downside--they're short, usually just a few weekends. They won't occupy a ton of time, but they will probably fit with your work schedule. You can take art, language, culture, computer, finance, martial arts, whatever. If you pick the right one, it might become a new hobby that you will spend a lot of time on (and it'll probably be fairly flexible). Drawing's a pretty easy hobby to support, whereas making pottery could be difficult since you need access to a kiln.

You could also look into martial arts or yoga classes; they might have a more flexible schedule than the community college.
posted by sleeplessunderwater at 9:44 PM on January 22, 2007

I'm about your age (the old 2-1) and I totally got that feeling. And I will be facing your boy dilemma at the end of 2007 when my beloved graduates and heads overseas to persue work. What to do, what to do? Well for me, I stave off all the crazy thoughts and worry by continually setting myself goals. I have a master list, just a text file, where whenever I come up with an idea of something I'd like to do, I just whack it in. When I'm feeling down and out with nothing ahead, I choose the easiest looking thing from the list and attempt to go forth and do it! They may be little but I find it's a good way to re-energise myself about life etc. etc.

The other list I have is "life goals", meaning they're things I'd like to loosely move towards while figuring out what I really want to do... cos, hey I don't know either! At the moment for me, it's hold onto my job for another 1.5 years so I can get experience in my field, open my own online store and finish a degree. Things like 'finish degree' are broken down into easier little chunks so I can get those magical feelings of satisfaction and brag about what I did. Roughly, I aim for those goals but hey, if things change I'm open to it!

And finally... travel is totally the greatest priveledge we in the western world have available to us. Wow - we've got the money and the means compared to millions of other people in this world. It's worth it, just going out and looking at things before. I can't afford to go on month or year long jaunts, so I always am planning/daydreaming about somewhere to go. It keeps my mind looking to the future and keeps me excited. I'm going to Japan in March and literally, everytime I think about it I start squealing cos I'm so bloody lucky and happy about it! Staves off the emptiness!

Also: following on with sleeplessunderwater's suggestion, take a peep at MIT's Opencourseware.
posted by teststrip at 1:18 AM on January 23, 2007


Forty Two.
posted by jaded at 3:50 AM on January 23, 2007

Yeah, traveling might be great, maybe moving to a new big city, finding a new career or hobby or whatever. But in the end, those things will all be driven at getting you that fulfillment you're looking for, and you'll find that none of them actually do.

I disagree. It's perfectly possible one/some of those things will be the jolt that will get you out of the blah you're feeling now. I second occhiblu's comment that you need new goals. College, or taking college classes, could be one, because it would keep you interested and on your toes for a few years. Travel could be another. Learning/perfecting something you find exhilerating could be another. Cooking classes? I also agree that you need fulfillment, and that doing things for others often provides that feeling. But overall, I think you need to shake things up. And your job sounds really boring - why don't you figure out something more rewarding/exciting, and make a goal of getting the skills needed to do the job/get the job?

Also, more ask mefi reading [I asked that one].
posted by Amizu at 5:55 AM on January 23, 2007

I disagree. It's perfectly possible one/some of those things will be the jolt that will get you out of the blah you're feeling now.

Certainly. But you're speaking to the now. I intended to address the more substantial long-term. Some of said things may certainly provide enough change to move past a current blah, but none of them are significant enough to address the more deeply-seeded blah that I think the OP alluded to in some senses.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:42 AM on January 23, 2007

I sense some desire to go to college. It's a good thing to be out of debt but the real truth is that very few people pay for college without student loans these days. If that is what you want to do, go and talk to the financial aid office at the school. Basically, you ask for the loan and you get it. There are also grants and scholarships that you don't have to pay back.

Smaller colleges are usually less expensive, and most of the time you can work and go to school at the same time. It's not fun paying off student loans though if you haven't followed through and actually earned the degree, so be sure that's what you want to do. You have to look at it as an investment in your future.

What if you tried taking a class or two and see if that is what you want to do?
posted by rcavett at 6:52 PM on January 23, 2007

« Older Stop my new suede coat from smelling!   |   ISO Excellent/Innovative/Efficient/Fast/Cheap... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.