A colleague and I were talking recently about the number of clients we were seeing with a similar complaint – uncertainty about what the hell to do with the rest of their lives. These are typically people in their early twenties who had either finished or nearly finished an undergraduate degree of some sort. Often, they studied some general type of program, like Communications or Psychology, and had no current plans to attend graduate school. Because of this, their degrees may not have prepared them for any specific career path. These patients often present for treatment with a mixture of anxiety and depression and are looking for some help determining the best direction. They live with their parents (or are supported by their parents outside the family home) and rarely are working for any type of pay. Every possible career option is quickly shot down with complaints of not being interesting, being boring or “not sounding very fun.”
What do we have to say to these young adults? Get a job – any job. I don’t care where – Target, an office, the library, a restaurant – anywhere. You need to be doing something while you are figuring it all out. Your temporary job may help you figure out what you want to do (or at least what you don’t). You are not likely to achieve clarity sitting at home playing video games. You do not get to be a burden on society or on your parents. Sitting at home will only make you more depressed. Get out of the house.
Actually this is a good rule for life – if you aren’t 100 % sure what you should be doing, take small steps until you figure it out. Even if you aren’t taking long strides, short steps keep you moving forward.