One thing’s for sure: I really don’t want to move back with my parents. Our elder helps this letter writer plot a route to future happiness.
Hi Elder Wisdom Circle, this is my first time writing to you. I am a 22-year-old girl, about to graduate college! I will be the first in my family to do so. I am now really struggling with figuring out what the next steps are. I am so lost in life and I could really use hope. I have never made decisions in my own life or had autonomy. My parents had always picked out my clothes, hairstyles, everything until very recently. I now realize I have been relying on my friends to give me suggestions of the next thing to do. I never make decisions of my own even in small things like what to do on the weekends all the way to what job I want. I feel so stuck that I have been having a hard time applying to jobs and I am super behind on that and now I am scared I will not get one. I feel like because of this I am just so stuck and I don’t have anywhere to go. I cannot imagine a future for myself and if I’m honest I just wish that I could disappear without it hurting anybody I care about. I really do not want to move back into my parents’ house when I graduate so I am trying to use that as motivation to apply to jobs but I feel so incompetent that I do not think I will get a job. I guess I would like to know, how do you get through this and how do you learn to find things to look forward to? How do you find hope? What keeps you going? Thank you for listening. I really appreciate you taking the time for this.
I’m so gratified that you decided to address this issue and share it with ElderWisdomCircle advisors. I hear you. It is a scary time right now for you. Newly graduated and taking a step toward a job is a huge situation and no wonder you are feeling stress. I have some advice for you. I want you to take a piece of paper and write down all the things that you love to do. It can be anything at all: cooking, walking, dogs… whatever makes the time sail by for you. Then write down all the skills you have – again, every skill. Maybe you clean very thoroughly, maybe you are a good listener, maybe you are good and quick at math or you have a high level of reading comprehension. Write it all down. Now look at both lists. There you will find your path.
Find a job that utilizes your natural skills but also fulfills a passion of yours. For example, maybe you wrote down that you love dogs and love walking and have a skill of understanding these animals. You could find any kind of work that involves all of that. Maybe you should become a veterinarian or even just a dog walker. I mean, really, happiness isn’t about making money or accepting accolades from everyone. Happiness is driven by three things: Something to do, something to love and something to hope for. I took a class on happiness once. It’s offered for free online at Yale. Check it out. It will surprise you because all the things we think will make us happy do not last for more than a year or so. Winning the lottery for example or getting married only buys you about a year of feeling happy. The bottom line to happiness is helping others. Strange, right? But helping others truly makes people feel genuinely happy. There are so many needy people in this world so helping people is a great way forward. You are at the beginning of your career. This is a very special and exciting time. Explore. Do not feel you have to hit a home run your first time at bat. Just take it one step at a time and try some things. You may not settle into a field for a while. Be patient with yourself.
Article #: 493644