I’m 22 and I Have No Idea What to Do

I am turning 22 and I have no idea what to do. I am living at home with my parents and four younger siblings. I am unemployed and have only worked a few odd jobs since high school. I have taken a few courses at my local university but do not have a degree, let alone any idea what to get a degree in. I was never able to decide if there was any point in going back to school without a real focus.

I also have no social life, and if I do actually have any communication skills, they’re overshadowed by my social anxiety. I don’t know what I’m interested in or what my skills are. I feel so ashamed of what I’ve become that I avoid contact with people in case they ask me what I do or what my plans are. I can’t discuss anything with my parents and often pretend to be working on things or I go to the library so they think I’m busy.

This has gone on far too long and I’m desperate to do something about it, but I don’t know where to start. Could you give me advice on what to do?

100 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    The first thing you should do is go to school. You need something to do. You need to get out of the house. You probably need a degree to get whatever job will be right for you, so that seems like a good thing for you to do now: go back to school.

    School will give you structure to your day. School will expose you to other people, and school will help you build toward something: a degree. It doesn’t matter what subject you study. Pick a major. If you don’t like your major, you can change, or you can just finish the degree and then never touch the topic again.

    So the first thing is go back to school. The next thing is that the school will have a counseling office. Go to the counseling office and tell them you have social anxiety. Tell them you need help. They will either be able to help you, or they will refer you to someone who can help you.

    But I want to tell you something: All the problems you’re having are okay. They are problems that someone in his 20s can deal with. They are not uncommon, and your feelings of being lost and hopeless are not uncommon. I tell you this to assure you that lots of people have overcome the problems you are facing. It’s hard. Being 22 is hard. It’s a time when you have to move from being a kid to an adult, and that’s really hard for everyone. But you’ll be fine. Keep trying things, and something will work.

    Finally, the job. If you need to work while you are going to school, then any job is fine. You do not need a job that you’ll love for the rest of your life. Working at McDonald’s is fine. Just get a job. Worry about getting a great job after you have some structure to your life.


    • Anastasia Morrow
      Anastasia Morrow says:

      Being lost is a lifelong struggle, but you just have to keep trying. Do Not join the military! I’ve served my 4 years and have come back home already. The military is great for some but I dealt with sexual harassment and as assalt as though it was something common that everyone deals with, and its not. It was a horrible four years and I know that each persons experience is different, but I do not think its worth it. The advice first posted is great!! I’m back in college now too and although it seems to you like your standing still if your in college you are working towards a goal.its how we recover from mistakes and obstacles that show who we really are, you are just on the journey to getting to know yourself :)

    • Gabe
      Gabe says:

      Im already 35 and just went two steps back . I was working for a company for 15 years. And whats did I accomplish nothing but a waist of time. I havel a six years old daughter and me and her mother went our separate ways. I dont know whats to do now. I feel like I was steady my time.

  2. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Note: The onslaught of comments advising this 22-year-old to go to the military is astounding.

    I deleted the patently offensive comments (like, go buy a gun). The comments that remain paint an important picture of how a portion of the U.S. thinks about career advice and life advice and what makes a good life and how to treat people who are lost.

    But, to any young person who feels lost, really, truly, you do not need to go to the military to get unlost. There are many many options. Choose the one best suited for you.


    • Historian
      Historian says:

      Apparently Ms. Trunk is not a fan of 1) the military or 2) Instapundit. So sad. Hard to believe someone so prejudiced could have been part of 3 startups. r/ Historian

    • Deryn
      Deryn says:

      I have to agree with Historian, although I’m not sure what good it will do, since both Historian’s and my comments are likely doomed to deletion. Instapundit does not lean Republican; it is libertarian if it is anything. And I’m not sure how “the world’s most influential guidance counselor” can so summarily dismiss the military as a valid career option.

      Instapundit was the only reason I ever knew of you or your blog. And your prejudices are the reason I won’t be back.

      • Will King
        Will King says:

        Consider frame of reference before attacking her. People will give advice based on experience – she can’t advise someone to go into the military if the only experience she has is as an outsider (especially when the military is a rather insular community, and exposure to military life in the media is almost universally negative)
        Given that – why would you expect her to advise someone to take a blind path?

      • K.K.C.
        K.K.C. says:

        Old post, but in Trunk’s defense; She clearly said “-you do not NEED to go to the military to get unlost. There are many many options.” There is nothing false, prejudice, or errant in this statement. In fact, I think many military personel, My father included, would agree that enlisting out of an act of desperation is not a smart way to go about deciding what path you committ your life to.

  3. Heather
    Heather says:

    I don’t think that going into debt is a good idea until you know what you want. Find a job or something that you can do that will force you to leave the house and interact with people. If you can put one foot in front of the other it will get easier.

  4. mpw280
    mpw280 says:

    Go to your community college and learn an applicable real world skill, HVAC, maintenance, computers, something for gods sake. Then go market your ass to anybody and everybody to get a job. Move out of your parents house and grow up. Mpw

  5. Mike
    Mike says:

    Join the military. Research jobs in the different branches, decide what you want to do, then go the local recruiter’s office and enlist. Benefits:
    1) Earn a decent wage
    2) Pride in what you do
    3) Opportunity for advancement regardless of education level
    4) Not living in parent’s basement

    • A. C.
      A. C. says:

      …Although at some point in your military service you may look back and realize that your parent’s basement really is preferable to your tent. This condition (deployment in a combat zone) rarely lasts longer than a year at a time. Actually, most troops deployed to places like Afghanistan will spend the majority of their time in fairly reasonable quarters, albeit with frequent excursions requiring sleeping (if possible) in the harshest conditions.

      Notwithstanding my comment on sleeping “accomodations” I also recommend you seriously take a look at the services. Try to talk to ex-servicemembers, including ones who never saw combat that is, never were directly in a battle – this is many Navy, many Air Force, a few Army people – about their day-to-day experiences. Don’t forget that Coast Guard is a military service, although one with a different mission from the rest.

    • The Drill SGT
      The Drill SGT says:

      A couple of items to add to Mike’s list:
      5. They’ll run a complete battery of tests that will give you career ideas.
      6. They’ll teach you a bunch of work skills, e.g. need to show up on time, do a solid days work, gain the sleep of the just :)
      7. They’ll teach you social skills, e.g. how to get along with others of diverse backgrounds
      8. You’ll get to travel
      9, Being a veteran is a huge benefit in the civilian market. Besides government hiring advantages, whole companies have been successful, by a focus on hiring vets (e.g. EDS). Vets are mature, hard working, and focused on mission success. What more could an employer want.

      PS: I was a college dropout at 19. Enlisted in the Army, went off to war. Came back, got a degree, a commission, a grad degree, served my country, found a wonderful wife in the Army. Became successful in a civilian high tech field.

      You could be me if you get off your ass…

      Good luck

  6. DocinPA
    DocinPA says:

    Software engineering. International gold trader. Oil field engineer/exploration specialist. Or you can go for the real world skills (welding, machinist, etc) or, join the USMC and go kill people and break things with really cool weapons.

  7. Ronnie
    Ronnie says:

    Join the military. They will teach you the discipline necessary to govern your life; they will provide opportunities to find and build upon your most useful skills. And it won’t put you into debt to pay for a nearly worthless community college stint. Though, if you’re pretty, you might consider learning to make biscuits–then you won’t have to do any of that shit.

  8. SteveSc
    SteveSc says:

    Military. It can help you decide what to do and just as important, what you don’t want to do.

    Also, pay, structure, advancement based mostly on merit, get out of the house and see the country/parts of the world.

  9. Rick
    Rick says:

    Leave the United States, you’re young have nothing holding you there, move to asia, south america or even a remote african country where your current skills will provide you with much greater opportunities.

  10. Anon
    Anon says:

    Joining the Marines to kill people at the instruction of an elected representative with some kind of majority support so that in theory, the oil field engineer is less likely to be kidnapped/held hostage isn’t an unacceptable contribution to the planet. Unless of course you are some aging hippy who believes bad people just go away and Presidents from 2 different political parties are all conspiring to wage war for no reason.

    Seriously, the poor guy seems to have interpersonal issues and academic focus he might not really get any of those jobs you proposed even after years of college…………… Honestly, tell your parents the truth – they may go tough love and start charging you rent to force you to do something but anything is better than a slow spiral, the longer you wait, the more comparisons with others will show you have wasted time and the more you will fall behind.

    The third solution is to find god and realize all comparisons are meaningless and you are special anyway… and special enough to find his plan for you. I like that one personally but its offensive in New york City to say things like that.

  11. Steven M
    Steven M says:

    Dear 22: One thing you have going for you, compared to way too many people: You can write in clear, coherent sentences. That’s great. There are places that need people like you.

    My suggestions: find what you like to do. If someone asks, “what bring you joy?”, and you answer “nothing”, then you just may have a form of depression called dysthymia. It struck me hard in my late teens and early 20’s. Can you talk to a counselor about it? Talking helps, but often it’s a pill. That may be hard to accept.

    I’m also guessing that you’re good at a lot of things, and so you have had trouble settling on the right career. That’s also something I am familiar with. Pick one and go do it. Don’t worry that it’s not the right one. You’ll have the opportunity to switch later. I just made a switch at age 51.

    • cheeflo
      cheeflo says:

      “One thing you have going for you, compared to way too many people: You can write in clear, coherent sentences.” I noticed that, too. That is an aptitude that could be developed and exploited — perhaps writing classes will help him focus this asset. His concerns about obtaining a college degree may actually be limiting him — any opportunity to learn is valuable, whether it accrues to a college degree or not.

  12. Henry
    Henry says:

    Okay, here’s what you do:

    1) Grow the f__k up.
    2) Get it through your thick skull that life ain’t easy. You actually have to WORK at it. Don’t expect anyone to give you anything.
    3) Take any kind of job and get the hell out of your parents house; oh, you ran out of money? Tough. Figure it out.
    4) Social Anxiety? For God’s sake, see number 1 above.
    5) If you’re still clueless after number 3 above, forget it, you’re Hank Reardon’s nephew.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Stupid advice. Maybe you hadn’t heard, but humans have evolved and the drill sergeant attitude isn’t so cool anymore. Smart people deal with problems that people like you don’t understand. Please, keep your rhetoric to yourself.

    • Austin
      Austin says:

      You are a total douche bag henry. I think you need to grow the F__K up. Sounds like you have some issues of your own

  13. Leland
    Leland says:

    As a father of twin 19 year olds, I’m fairly certain your parents know the truth. Unless they are completely evil, which I doubt since they still provide you a home, they’ll understand. The frustration comes in helping you find what you want to do. You have to realize how critical it is to find something you enjoy and do it. There are lots of places that offer advice on career paths. You’re college can help, even if you are not currently going there.

    As for the military comments, it is an option and a good one. But for the people suggesting it; the military is no guarantee anymore. They are having cutbacks, which allow them (like everybody else) to be even more selective. If you choose that path and succeed, the military help you find a job you’ll enjoy. It is very rewarding.

    Otherwise, realize that most any job is a good thing. If you think something is too beneath you; you have the wrong approach. If you think something is unimportant, consider what would happen if it wasn’t done.

    Finally, don’t give up on the schooling. It’s not a good investment if you don’t know a goal, so you’re doing right there. But, if you want to be independent from your parents sooner, it helps to have a degree. If you really can’t figure out a career path, go to a technical school, learn how to handle hardware like a lathe, milling machine, soldering iron, or even a sewing machine.

  14. Tantor
    Tantor says:

    Join the military to learn a trade. I recommend joining the Air Force in some sort of computer specialty. Go overseas and see the world.

    If you don’t want to join the military, take any job that pays and go to community college at night in computer science. Get a job that requires contact with customers, like a cashier, so that you build experience dealing with people. Bit by bit, you’ll increase your social confidence.

  15. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I was in your situation at the age of 22. I was watching tv one day and saw an army commercial and I thought, why not?? My parents thought I’d lost my mind, but I was determined. I joined the army, had the time of my life, learned some major skills, went to college, met my husband and we’ve been married for 24 years. Of course, you have to keep in mind there are some wars going on right now and they are drawing down the military at the same time, so the services are harder to get into.

  16. TexDoc
    TexDoc says:

    At a local university or JUCO find the advising and counseling offices and ask about testing for vocational skills and interests. Do the same with military recruiters and decide on some parameters within which you could develop. Then go find folks who do that “stuff” and figure out what you need to know, what trainig you need as a basis for growth in that broad area, and whether it lights any fires or totally sucks on closer inspection. Do the TV detective bit and dig it out.

  17. M. Thatcher
    M. Thatcher says:

    DO NOT GO TO COLLEGE. Given your lack of direction, it’s a waste of time and buttloads of money you don’t have. My suggestion: learn a trade. Become an electrician, plumber, welder. As you earn self respect you will also accumulate enough money to get the heck out of your parents’ house. That should be Mission. #1.

  18. memomachine
    memomachine says:


    1. You can learn on your own or learn at a school or learn on the job. But you should accept right now that you will never succeed in life or in any profession without either the ability or the eagerness to learn.

    2. You’re approaching this problem from the wrong angle. People think about the career that they are going to do for the rest of their lives and the enormousness of it all hammers them flat. Instead realize that you will have many different careers in your life. Some will intersect with others. Some will connect. Some will not. Some you will do because you love it. Some you will do because you must.

    The question isn’t what you should do. The question is what you should do for now.

    • Asadmarket
      Asadmarket says:

      Your post made my life so much easier. Recently i have had to give up on my wish to become an accountant because it would require another year of very expensive loans. So i was forced to choose another business major the i would be able to complete at smeal, i choose marketing. Your post in all actuality helped me realize that i just have to suffer now i can go back and get a better degree.

  19. Multitude
    Multitude says:

    Get the hell out of mom and dad’s. Throw yourself out. Into “Being.” Jump off the cliff. It’ll define you, one way or another (either by forcing you to step up and be a worthwhile, unique creative human being, or allow you to splat on the pavement and free up some carbon and oxygen for a few others who’d certainly make better use of it).

    Screw the recommendations that suggest you go to college. You’re not ready for that, speaking from the experience of being one who probably was too similar to your path. Start something. Sell something. Be something. When you have no way to eat other than figuring a way to be a value to another human being, it’s amazing how creative you get. You get sick of artificial, imitation cheese food and hot dogs made from the clinging meat sprayed off the carcass of dead animals rather quick.

    As long as you’re in the sphere of your parents, or other clueless adults detached from reality, you’ll never realize whether you’re worth more than a tapeworm.

  20. fiftyville
    fiftyville says:

    Dig ditches or some other form of outdoor manual labor for a living for 5 years. It’ll give you a practical introduction to social class distinction and interaction, personal economics, and the poverty line. Those experiences will most assuredly give you a push to pick a path in higher education. Worked for me.

  21. toadold
    toadold says:

    Most Junior Colleges have counseling offices and can arrange aptitude and interest tests for students.
    Military placement is also based on test……unless they really need some warm bodies in a particular field. The thing is it is a bit harder to get into the military these days than it used to be. The other thing is you need a medical checkup. You may have low level clinical depression. This can cause a lack of interest in things. Blood calcium levels can be off, various hormones insufficient or in over abundance. Get checked.

  22. Ktheerm
    Ktheerm says:

    I was I your shoes 25 years ago. I got a crappy restaurant job (hostess) that paid little, but at least I was doing something. It was not fun, I had social anxieties that made it impossible to relax and enjoy my time. But I jumped on an opportunity to become a waitress there, because it was better money and it forced me even further out of my comfort zone. I did that for a while and then became a bartender there. My social skills Inproved steadily. And over time It became abundantly clear that I could not do this work forever. I found I wanted to go back to school, I wanted to have a career and not just a job. The restaurant work built my confidence and helped build my people skills….AND helped me support myself when did eventually go back and get my degree.

    Trust in yourself to figure it out as you go. Baby steps ….take some sort of action….gradually push yourself into areas that are more and more challenging for you.

    Good luck!

  23. Greg
    Greg says:

    Do not go to to college if it means going into debt. Also, do your younger siblings a favor and don’t let your parents waste family money on college for you if you don’t have a specific plan. Spending a few years in college just wandering around aimlessly is not a good idea.

    Get a job. Any job. If you can’t find full-time work then get two part-time jobs. Save every cent you can and move out on your own. Learn to live within your means and take pride in the fact the your are self sufficient.

    I don’t mean to be redundant but absolutely do not go into debt.

    You don’t have to be an astronaut but you do have to be an adult.


  24. Paul
    Paul says:

    Before you do anything, ask yourself one question, and answer it honestly: what do you want out of life? What’s your goal? But when I said honestly, be prepared to face an answer like, “I want to get married and let my spouse do the work,” or, “I want to do as little as possible while maintaining my small entertainments,” or, “I want to make a ton of money and retire early” or even, “I want to delay having to face life as long as possible before it catches up with me.” Once you have an honest answer, the procedure should become obvious.

  25. PacRim Jim
    PacRim Jim says:

    Start a company. People need things, some of which they are as yet unaware.
    Provide that good or service to them.
    That’s all it takes. You’re young, so you have vast amounts of time to start up a business.
    Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed.

  26. mhowell
    mhowell says:

    Get a CDL. Jobs requiring a Commercial Driver’s License go begging all the time. Relatively quick process to obtain (shop around though. There are some rip off instructional sites out there) and very portable. Plus the time driving on the road will give you time to think about what you really want to do. Less social interactions than most other jobs which may be a plus if you have anxieties.

  27. Pete
    Pete says:

    You’re young and you have nothing tying you down. Hop a bus to North Dakota. The oil fields are booming and they need every pair of hands available. Do that for a few years. Steady paychecks will allow you to gain experience and perspective.

  28. Jennifer Soodek
    Jennifer Soodek says:

    First things first. If I was able to work with you I would first have you take the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and then the Strong Interest Inventory. You can take them directly on my website. It is very easy, the instructions are clear and the assessments are even fun to do. A day or so after you complete the assessments I would contact you and set up a time for us to review your results. I would provide you with a 25 page document that is all about you, and how you answered the questions and what it means for you. We could meet in person if you happen to live in Connecticut, or via Skype of Phone.
    This is a critical first step in exploring what you personal interests are and what areas you would like to explore either for furthering your education or pursuing a career. Once you know what you want, the rest is easy. It is just a matter of going out and making it happen, which most people don’t realize can be easier than you think. You have to take responsibility and want change. You have to be willing to take a bit of a risk. You have to be open to self exploration. Once you do all of the above, the rest of the answers will come. I promise, it is a process that works, I would never make a promise I couldn’t keep!

    • CT
      CT says:


      I am retired. But I want you to know, you gave one of the best answers I read. And good on you for ‘mining’ lost souls. You are obviously a very special person.

      The situation described by the young lady is not unlike so many today. I have kids in a very similar situation.

      We will all pray that America gets a leader that can and will help get us back on track.

  29. poul
    poul says:

    go learn to be a car mechanic. even if later you change the profession, you will know how to fix your own car.

  30. slider
    slider says:

    22 years old? You’ve got it easy.

    2 weeks after I graduated from high school, my old man put his foot in my @ss and sent me packin’. All I had were a few possessions I could fit in a backpack, and the beat-up Schwinn ten speed I pedaled away on. I was homeless and penniless at 18. And you’re sniveling about having to live with mom and dad at 22?

    To be honest, I can’t blame my old man. At that age I was a jackass. And my dad left home at 13 years old, then worked manual labor jobs until he was old enough to join the Army at 17. So he had no sympathy for a slacker like me. I hated my old man for a few years. But ultimately it motivated me to become self-sufficient. I got a full time job and spent almost 10 years going to school at night to get an engineering degree. My college education was obtained through a couple of JC’s and an unglamorous CSU institution, and I didn’t graduate at the top of my class. But I got that diploma on my own, and it means a lot to me.

    Now I’m an engineer working for an aerospace company, and I have several post grads from schools like MIT and Princeton working for me. Life is sweet. And by the way, I’m on good terms with the old man.

  31. ThOR
    ThOR says:

    A large, two-year public college (these schools are called community colleges, junior colleges and, sometimes, just “colleges”) are a great place to start. These schools are inexpensive and very accommodating to students making life transitions. You’ll be amazed at the broad range of individuals who show up in your classes – young/old, rich/poor, high school dropouts and college grads. And you can be as serious or unserious as you want to be. Where else can you earn college credit learning to belly dance, repair a bicycle, and shoot a pistol all during the same term? I knew a guy who volunteered at the local community college radio station and become such a celebrity that he was contacted by an alternative music station in far away Los Angeles and offered a job as a dj. Most community colleges have a fun vibe and are a great place to find yourself.

    Be warned, these colleges are not all created equal, so it is important to visit and pick up a copy of the course catalogue at each institution within an hour’s drive of your home. Bigger is usually better among 2 year colleges.

    Good luck.


  32. BC
    BC says:

    Come on… you know exactly what you *want* to do.

    But you are likely worried that a) you will not be able to earn any money doing it, or b) you will not be able to earn as much money as you hope.

    And here’s the truth: a) you *will* be able to earn money doing exactly what you want. Maybe not right away, and maybe not in your home town. But eventually. And somewhere. And that is an ironclad, 100% guarantee. Trust me, and trust yourself. And b) you will likely *not* make as much as you’re hoping. But then, that’s true of 99.999% of people, everywhere. Wall Street tycoons included. So don’t sweat it. Once you settle into doing what you really love, there are always ways to supplement your income a little. Firefighters are all carpenters on the side, and teachers are gardeners, and actors and musicians wait tables.

    Follow you heart, kid. No sh*t. You’ll be fine.

  33. Jessie
    Jessie says:

    I’m 36 yr old female and when I was your age I was in the exact situation you are today. I got a job working in a call center through a temp agency. I hated the job but it forced me to talk with people and it gave me confidence. I liked earning a regular pay check and I met lots of different types of people. After working in the call center for a year I met someone who was looking to hire people to process loan docs for a mortgage co. I got that job and after a few years found a better paying job working at a cable co. Today, I earn 60k a year and I never went to college. You need to get yourself a job, work hard, and opportunities will develop over time. Don’t be concerned about making the “right” choice. College is not for everyone and is not required for success or to be happy in life.

  34. Cletus
    Cletus says:

    As a vet (20+ years in the Air Force, retired in 2007) I would say that all the people saying ‘join the military’ have a point, in that the opportunities are good. There are some caveats, however. If you have no idea what you want to do, and you end up in a job you hate, you will not be happy and may do a disservice to the yourself and to the mission you’re supposed to be working (that said, if you don’t like your job, but are okay with the military most of the services have options to retrain into other work, if what you want to change to is needed and what you are currently doing has enough people). Most of the people I worked with while active duty were round pegs in round holes; however, there were some who just were not very compatible with the way the military works and it caused problems both for those people and the others around them. So before just deciding that joining the military is a safe (relatively, considering the wars) backup; please consider that the military is doing some serious work, and if you are not interested in contributing in the way required by the service of your choice you may be detrimental to the mission and have less than positive effects on a personal and big-picture level. Bottom line, the military is about national defense; we are at war and that means you will be contributing to our combat missions directly or indirectly. Some people of particular philosophical or political persuasions do not support the fights we are currently in; if you do not support our current missions then you probably should not join. It won’t break the Army/AF/Navy/Marine’s heart if you do not join; but if you really do not support what they are doing then you will not be happy and will run into problems (if you do your work well, it won’t affect you professionally at all, but you will personally not be fulfilled if you are against the mission you are facilitating). If you are willing to apply yourself and do what is needed with some enthusiasm then great; sign up, if you meet the criteria you’ll have good opportunities and a chance to really make a difference. Even if you don’t know what to do with your life, if you are willing to throw yourself into something new and give it an honest shot, you are the kind of person needed. As far as social skills go, you don’t need to be great at that; you’ll have many opportunities to bond with people in ways that can help you get past initial awkwardness (sharing less than ideal living conditions in the field; having a shared mission that actually makes a difference in a demonstrable way etc. tends to clarify things like who you can count on, trust, hang with etc. very quickly, and having skills and decency will alleviate a lot of the awkwardness found in civilian life); once you become accustomed to being included and valued for your contributions it’s a hard habit to break and things get easier all around. If you can see yourself fitting in with what I’ve said above, then I’d say the military could be a great option for you and you could contribute; if not, then you should probably look elsewhere. (Retired AF MSgt)

  35. Ed G
    Ed G says:

    “You can act like a man. Not a man? Act like a man anyway.” — twoslaps

    While on the surface this may seem harsh, insensitive, and almost mocking, it is actually some of the best advice you can get. I am not kidding.

    Yes, you may have doubts, insecurities, concerns, etc., but an easy and effective way to overcome them is to simply act and behave like a strong, confident, self-secure man would. Yes, if you must, *act*. Yes, I mean pretend. It works.

    This advice is actually quite common and it takes on other forms. A common form is “fake it till you make it”. It’s the same thing. Your brain will actually learn from your actions and behavior, and as you grow more accustomed to the behavior that you’re mimicking, it will become habitual and automatic.

    But let’s get to specifics. What can you do? Get up early every day, and get up at the same time every day. The consistent routine will calibrate your internal clock. Immediately go out and run; include sprints. To paraphrase the original advice: Can’t run? Run anyway. (If you’re really out of shape, run for 20 seconds, walk for 2 minutes, and repeat 10 times. Every day add 5 seconds to the run and subtract 5 seconds from the walk.) Then, after you clean up and eat, lock yourself in the public library for a few hours and do research. Research anything you want, but make sure that you actually write up reports on the topics that you research. Yes, write. This will help you enhance some skills, will lead you to areas of interest, will give you the ability to speak knowledgeably about the things that you have researched, and will help you accumulate a stack of tangible results (your writing) that will give you a sense of accomplishment. If you can, join a gym and lift *heavy* weights: do squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and pull-ups. (Make sure you get qualified instruction if you’ve never done these; you can hurt yourself if you do them incorrectly.) Pushing against heavy weights strengthens your mentality as much as it strengthens your muscles. It works. Do it. Finally, join Toastmasters to develop your speaking skills. They are very friendly, welcoming, and supportive, and they deliver results.

    Or, echoing a lot of other advice here, a simpler alternative to the entire previous paragraph is to join the military. In addition to everything mentioned above, you’ll also get training, a paycheck, and tremendous respect.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Give it a break. Man, is everyone on here a conservative who thinks the answer to everything is to “man up?” Do sprints and lift weights in order to figure out a career path? Please. I’ve never seen so many people with insecurity complexes at once.

  36. Jason Watts
    Jason Watts says:

    Learn a trade – HVAC, Plumbing, Electrician, etc. Hell, if you’re near the ocean offer to be a deckhand with the eventual desire to become a boat captain. The people that are telling you that you can do WHATEVER you want….are RIGHT! :) If your parents are okay with you staying there and money isn’t an issue, you could conceivably offer a local tradesperson in your area to volunteer for them – as long as they aren’t union. Find an interest, find someone who is DOING it, and tell them you want to know what they know and are willing to help them at no cost. Basically become an apprentice in a field that interests you. Give it six months or even a year. Learn EVERYTHING you can in that trade. Often, those that teach you will actually wind up hiring you – maybe even funding whatever exams required to become certified as a professional in your field. Last week a 20 year old with his HVAC license installed a new condensor outside my house (the air conditioning unit). He was making more a year than I was (I’m college educated w/ a pretty damn good job), owned his own home and loved working with his hands. He told me his friends make fun of him because they’re partying while he’s in bed by 10pm because he has to work in the morning. He just shook his head and said with genuine modesty “I don’t get it! I own my own house!” But he DOES get it. You need three things, an interest in something, the assiduity to do it, and the discipline to see it through. And maybe a fourth thing – a break, a chance, some luck. Make that fourth thing happen and you’ll be golden.

  37. Chris
    Chris says:

    Cowboy up. Take responsibility for your own sorry ass. Invest in a decent outfit, go out and talk to people about what they do, decide what you want to do, and decide to do it. 90% of this is making a sincere, honest effort (sincere and honest with yourself). Too many of your generation were raised to think that self esteem was a legit. substitute for self respect. You only earn the latter through challenging yourself, trying, failing, and then getting back on the horse until you succeed. The military is one hell of a way to learn that in a regimented society. If you have the strngth of character, you can do it alone, but it’s hard.

  38. William O. B'Livion
    William O. B'Livion says:

    I’m in with the folk who say “Join The Millitary”, but if you’re too much a wimp ass modern metro-sexual kinda guy, talk to the peace corps.

    If that doesn’t work go get a job as a bar back in some marginal bar. This will give you a bit of cash, and while you’re there learn to bartend. Save as much money as possible (no xbox, no new laptop etc.) Buy yourself a backpack and YHA membership and go see the fucking world. You’re 22–you’re clearly not driven enough to be in the top 2-3% of anything (at least not yet), so you’re destined for upper middle class at best (this is not an insult, this is still better than 90% of the world and it also means you’ve got time to figure shit out as you go). With bartending experience you should be able to get a job in almost any city in the world–especially if you have a working vocabulary in the local language.

    Eventually you’ll find something that you really want to do, you’re good at, or just is good enough to settle for. And you’ll have a life time of stories that start with “I was in this shithole bar in northern Spain and these two basque dudes walked in…”

    Life is short, pride is forever, and chicks dig scars with cool stories behind them.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Uh, actually us “chicks” dig guys who can dress themselves & not get caught up in needless b.s.
      Testosterone is very nice, but too much turns guys into lil’ boys real quick. ♥

  39. Slim W.
    Slim W. says:

    I had the same problem out of high school. All the same social symptoms, all the same motivation (none), didn’t know what I wanted to be. So I joined the Navy. Wasn’t always easy, didn’t always get to do what I wanted, but I for sure learned what I didn’t want to do. Got out with a new appreciation for school, got a degree, self-studied myself into the IT field, and now I make good money, have a job I don’t hate, life is alright. If you do join up, keep in mind: you are writing a blank check for the gov’t to do what it likes with you. On the other hand, you never know what you might do next and that’s a cool thing sometimes.

  40. Tim
    Tim says:

    I second the recommendation that you take an interest inventory (e.g., the Strong Interest Inventory). This will help you figure out what you are interested in doing. Once you know that, you can figure out which direction (college, military, vocation training) might be best for you. Such assessments are available online or at the counseling centers at most colleges. You might also be interested in a aptitude battery, but that would be less important (because most of tend to be uninterested in things we have little aptitude for).

  41. Jake Barnes
    Jake Barnes says:

    Whatever you do, don’t go to college. Undergraduate university is a total waste of time for someone who doesn’t have a particular academic interest. Take a wild guess at what you think you might like as a job and go do it. Work hard. If you are not happy at work, try something else. If you are still not happy, move to another country so you can see how easy you have it here. Then come back and get a job. You’ll probably like it.

  42. crispy
    crispy says:

    Without a plan, conventional college is not worth the investment. Instead, find a technical course in one of the trades listed above, or (the HORROR) look into water treatment facilities operations. This field will be decimated by a retiring work force in the coming decade. It is not being backfilled appropriately.

    The work is clearly steady, the education required to secure a position is far less costly than other occupations, you learn from pros on the job, and daily have exposure to electrical, mechanical, biological, regulatory (EPA), public relations, and chemical issues that will allow you to never be bored.

    No high schooler wants to hear about this noble field of work, but it’s a great avenue for many young folks. Good luck.

  43. Bustr
    Bustr says:

    1) Pick a goal. Aim high. Make it big with a decent income: Become a Dentist or a Vetrinarian or Lawyer or something.

    2) Study your ass off to reach that goal. Go to college and skip the parties (That is a side benefit of having social anxiety). Avoid having to take fluff classes if possible unless you need an easy “A”.

    3) If you make it, great. If you fall short, you are more likely to land in a good place.

  44. Arch
    Arch says:

    The military is not for everyone. You’ll need to adjust your attitude. I was a plebe three times (RMA, Culver, US Naval Academy) took ROTC and spent 20 years as an Air Force officer:

    1. Before you sign up, get in shape. Run 5 miles in 35 minutes. Swim laps. Get a pistol and learn to use it.

    2. In basic training – keep your mouth shut and stay in the middle of the pack. If you are very smart or very fast or very anything, do not let them know.

    3. Learn weapon systems. Buy Jane’s (e.g., Jane’s All the Worlds’ Aircraft). Study your weapon systems then your adversary’s. FAS.org is useful. Read about tactics. Listen to combat veterans in the bar.

    4. Be aggressive but not stupid. Armed forces operate dangerous, expensive machinery which they intend to use again.

    5. Improve your communications skills – verbal and written. Be able to state a problem in 25 words, understand and present both sides objectively, draw a conclusion and make a recommendation on one page.

    6. Study. Learn at least two foreign languages. (American English does not count.) Get a Masters degree. If you have a Masters, get a PhD. Technical is best. Management is next best. Do command and staff and war college early.

    7. Volunteer for combat at every possible opportunity. If you are alive ten days into your first combat, you will probably make it. Always assume your adversary is the worlds’ best until he proves otherwise. If you see one, assume there are two; if you see two assume there are four, because there are.

    8. As a staff officer there are three rules. Rule 1: Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut. Rule 2: Never fail to speak up if it is necessary for you to do so. Rule 3: Never confuse Rule 1 with Rule 2.

    9. If you disagree with your boss and have the time to discuss it, do so behind a closed door. Persuade and don’t argue. If he doesn’t bend, there may be something you do not know. When the decision is made, support it 100%.

    10. Leadership is giving your subordinates what they need to accomplish the mission – support, resources, persuasion, information, direction, reward, punishment, encouragement and loyalty. Their failures are your responsibility.

    Good luck

  45. Kerry
    Kerry says:

    As it’s not been suggested yet, I suggest prayer. Are you Catholic? If so, go to Adoration. If not, scout about for a Priest or Pastor. The Lord’s Prayer, the Paternoster arrived when the Disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray.” “IHS”

  46. Mark
    Mark says:

    I’ve taught college for 40 years and have had two other careers. Your problem is you, not that you don’t know what to do. You are scared of adulthood and responsibility. So, here are some suggestions: go to North Dakota — there are lots of jobs there in the energy industry. Get one and work at it and see what happens. Go somewhere exotic — Bali, Barbados — work there, see what happens. Look around for successful people, ask them for an hour of their time, tell them you’re not looking for a job. Ask them what has made them successful and, if they were starting today, what would they do. Don’t talk a lot about yourself — it’s about them. What you’ll hear will be gold. Go to college only if you need to to get a particular job. Start reading the world’s great literature and history. Take courses on iTunes U. and the “Great Courses” company. Educate yourself. You have talents but don’t know what they are, because they seem easy for you. Ask people who know you what you seem to do well. Remember that everyone else faces the same challenge, so be kind and compassionate. Good luck!

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Would you please define what you mean by “adulthood” and “responsibility”? I get this odd feeling there’s this role of tasks you think he should just know to take on, but just isn’t.
      I went to college, graduated & then worked 10 years full time, while still living at home. Paying off debt. Eventually the promotions stacked up & I moved out, but it wasn’t easy; and paying all my bills except rent. Is that irresponsible?
      Now at 36, I have a great job, a fantastic (I think) apartment, and no debt. I’m able to support my folks, and frankly enjoy spoiling them.
      And I still have no idea what to do with my life. The job is a job, and it’s great. And at the same time—after all this work—I still feel like this kid, staring at the ceiling…”is this all there is?”
      I’m quite sympathetic to guys; this “man up” macho bullshit is such a turn-off to a lot of us gals—and very unfair to guys.
      My Mom came from a large family where there was no money for college; the only advice she was given was getting married. She joined the Navy instead. You don’t have to do 20 years; a single stint is only 4 and you’re a bona fide veteran at the end.
      Think about it.
      And ignore the macho crap.

  47. Tom
    Tom says:

    At 22 years old, you already wasted 4 years of your post high school years. When I was 22, I was already finishing up 4 years of college with one more year to go. I graduated from college with a BS in Engineering at 23 years old. Most people that delay or prolong college never finish. I think you should go to community college to quickly earn a 2 year degree. Tuition is cheap. Instruction is adequate. However, do it in a field that does has a career path like technical, science, health, or accounting. Don’t waste your time with liberal arts. The problem is you should get a part time job so you can pay for your books and academic fees. Your parents who have no clue with your plans might not like to help you out. You need to take charge. So the first step is get a job. Apply for colleges in the Spring of 2012 for classes in the Fall of 2012. Go full-time while taking part time jobs. Graduate soon. Apply for new full time job after graduation. Take it from there. Decide later if 4 year degree is worth it. It might not be.

  48. JohnMc
    JohnMc says:

    I am 60 yo. You don’t know what you want to do? Well then find out what you don’t want to do. Go down to the state employment office. Apply for every dirty job they have listed. Do them. Its not a career choice, but it will certainly have you figure out what you don’t want as a future.

    Your age I had driven truck, warehouse work, roofing, construction, bait boy, fiberglass layup and various other odd jobs. I discovered what I was good at and identified jobs I will never do — ever.

  49. Sam
    Sam says:

    Get a job. Any job, no matter how low the pay or dirty the work. Mop floors, clean toilets, load trucks. Anything. Just get to work. Then get an apartment, any apartment, no matter how small or crappy. Anything you can afford. Support yourself, and once you’re doing that, then you can think about where you want to go in the years ahead. F

  50. JImmyNashville
    JImmyNashville says:

    From a practical perspective and something you can do right now I’d suggest a personality / carreer test.

    I did a google search and tested this one and it’s a fine baseline of you ignore all the advertising.

    http://www.free-career-test.com/ (there are many others out there and you do well to try a few)

    Personality tests are not the end all but can give you a good idea of what you might like and a really good idea of what you should stay away from. I wish I’d taken one in my early 20’s.

  51. Kizmet
    Kizmet says:

    For a less intensive start, you might try Toastmasters. They have a great program that helps people learn to communicate better and leadership training. The network in Toastmasters can lead to any number of opportunities. It’s not a hitch in the army, nor expensive like a college class. You might find it worth a look.

  52. Black Sabbath
    Black Sabbath says:

    I hear this from a lot of people in high school and coming out of high school. They don’t know what they want to do. I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I was in high school and on the day I graduated. I wanted to be a musician. And every single adult I talked to tried to talk me out of it and into things like accounting, or a liberal arts degree, or some such nonsense. More on that in a moment.
    This is a huge problem today – people thinking they don’t know what it is that they want to do. You KNOW what you want to do. It’s what would make you happiest. It’s the thing that would get you out of bed early in the morning and keep you up late at night. It’s the thing that if it you were having a bad day but still doing what you really wanted to do, it wouldn’t really be a bad day. You have most likely been talked out of doing what it is you like to do by well meaning people who are just certain that ‘no one ever succeeds at that’.
    A quick background on me: Wanted to be a rock musician. Told to go to college for a liberal arts degree. Went to college. Failed out after two years. Went to the local community college. Failed out. Went again. Failed out. Got a really crappy job. Utterly miserable. Saved some money. Quit job. Finally went back to school on my terms. On the Dean’s List. Went to west coast for music. Did a lot of cool stuff – but kept working toward a degree by taking night classes one or two at a time. Decided I was burned out on the music industry just in time to receive my bachelors degree. Moved home. Started my own business. The story goes on but not relevant here. The point is that I finally did what it was that I REALLY wanted to do. I followed my dream but I kept a BACK UP PLAN by going to school and taking a class or two at a time. By the time I found that my dream wasn’t that fun any more, I had a degree in my hand and a lot of new doors open to me. Oh, and I started working on attaining my next dream!

    Here’s a plan: Take a day and get away from everyone. Get a pad of paper and a pencil. Write down what you would like to do if you really had every choice open. Be honest with yourself. Do you want to be an accountant? Fine. Do you want to be a professional skier? A hot-air balloon maker? An astronaut? Do you want to work in the Peace Corps? Research who is in the field you want to be in. Where is the field located? Are there people you know doing what it is you want to do? Talk to them. GO to where the thing you want to do is happening – or at least as close as you can to it. When I went to the west coast, I roadied for free for bands and took a free internship in a record company and a music magazine. I learned a lot and it got my foot in the door immediately. I met a lot of people and saw a lot of interesting things.
    Remember I was told by a lot of well meaning people that NO ONE makes it in the music industry. I saw a lot of people who went nowhere but I also saw some bands make it and one had several number one albums. They were playing only clubs when I was there.
    Last thing – I’ve made this technique work more than once. Later in life I decided I wanted to do other things – try different careers and have reached those goals. I’m not going to list them here to avoid having this post be too long.
    Quick summary: Be honest about what you REALLY want to do and DO IT. Keep a back up plan by taking at least one class a semester. START NOW! Good luck!

  53. Jim
    Jim says:

    I second the Myers-Briggs test to find out how you are “wired.” The information about myself it provided opened up my world. The reply that you should “go to college” to find yourself is preposterous. Until you have a purpose and a goal, it is a colossal waste of time and money. I went back to school at 35 and got two degrees once I knew what I wanted and knew it would finance a good life (CS/Art). BTW, I spent 4 years in the Army and it did me a lot of good, but there weren’t countless, endless wars going on. I would not go anywhere near the military at this time.

  54. Australian Instapundit Reader
    Australian Instapundit Reader says:

    It doesn’t matter what you do at school? I disagree. The time has long gone when you wander, cloudy-headed, into a campus and come out the other end with a kickass career. Specifically – only go to school if it’s a career oriented job. If you are good at math – then DEFINITELY go to school. Do something with math in it because these careers will always be in demand. (I challenge anyone to give a counterexample).

    But if you do a dead end degree you’ll have debt and nothing to show for it. (having said that I have two dead end degrees and I’m doing okay)

    The most important thing to do is get a job… this will also add structure to your day, get you meeting people, and most of all, bring in money. Dare I suggest McDonalds as a starting point, on such a left-wing blog? Heck, why not. Cat meet pigeons. Go get a job at mcdonalds or something. I’m not being sarcastic.

    However it’s a case of do as I say, not as I do, since I’m a fairly well paid statistician right now although in my youth I did my time in plenty of menial jobs.

  55. TJ
    TJ says:

    My first question is, are you a Christian? If the answer is ‘yes’, then have you prayed about it? What spiritual gifts do you feel God has given you? Identify these areas and then seek how best to use them in advancing the Kingdom of God. Jobs, purpose, and fulfillment will all take care of themselves once you are alligned with God’s will for your life. If you are not a Christian, I would invite you to pick up a Bible and read the New Testament to find out the good news Jesus Christ offers you.

  56. lil mike
    lil mike says:

    I’m sorry Penelope doesn’t regard the military as a valid option, but frankly, for many young people in exactly this young man’s position, sort of adrift without a real goal to work towards, the military is a great option. It provides structure, discipline, work skills and a work record. It looks good on a resume. I joined the Army in my early 20’s and it was one of the best personal and career decisions I’ve made. It broadened my experiences far more than college ever did.

  57. Alain Hamblet
    Alain Hamblet says:

    I was like you Mr. “22 and I have know idea what to do” except I was 18. Just graduated Highschool and all the advice was “go to college”. In fact the issue was not only pressured by adults but from peers as well. Yet I didn’t know what I wanted to get a degree in.

    I see many say join the military but not a whole lot of information on that. This was the course I chose. First it gave me experience in leadership, a vocational skill, and introduced me to a diverse nature of personalities. The military whichever branch offers a wide range of options. Nuclear, flight, security, intelligence, mechanics, etc are available as a path in the military. You can do a short stint in the military and have a skill you can use to earn money while going to college while also having college money from the GI Bill if you choose to be partake.

    You will get paid while making up your mind and probably have a great time and make friends that will last you a lifetime. Hopefully by the end of your military enlistment you will have an idea of what you want to do. In my case I chose engineering.

    If you choose the military route I suggest you take a hard look at the Military Occupational Specialties offered. Try to pick the one you really would like to do and what you think you have a knack for. Some people don’t enjoy their time because they just pick a job without thinking about it. At least though in the military you won’t make the mistake of getting a crappy degree that can’t get you a job. College is a big investment don’t blow tens of thousands of dollars on it not knowing what you want to do. If anything kids are pushed to go to college too early and most don’t have any clue what they want to do. They just go to make someone happy and go into early debt and suffer for it. Don’t make that mistake.

    If you decide not to go into the military get a vocational skill that you can use to at least make a decent living while you try and figure it out. Welder, mechanic, even a barber. Something that you can earn more than minimum wage at and save some money.

  58. Ed Watson
    Ed Watson says:

    Mr. 22, I’ll tell you what my father told me at your age: If you can’t get a job, you have two honorable options: Join the military, or commit suicide. As it happens, I found a job and got the heck out of that lunatic’s household. I suggest you do the same. If you can’t, try the military. Suicide is very definitely a last resort, but it sure beats dependency, and after all, there are almost seven billion people on this planet. One more human being more or less is just not important. Good luck.

  59. Chris
    Chris says:

    I agree, don’t join the service, but I’ll tell you why from a different perspective than you’re likely to get here: I’ve been in the service for 16 years now, and let me tell you, the last thing I want is yet another lost soul looking for someone, or something to make up for their parents’ mistakes, a jobs program until they “figure themselves out,.” Right or wrong, we’ve been at war for the last ten years, and this is likely to continue for a few more. This is real – we have men and women getting injured, dying in AFG and still in danger as we draw down in Iraq, too much at stake, for me to have to spend 80% of my time dealing with 20% of the troops whom no one ever taught how to be an adult. I don’t have time to fix you. If this were the Cold War or peacetime military then maybe sure. If you do join up, I am going to spend my time trying to help you back out into the civilian world as quickly as possible, because I’ve got more important things to do than help you get your life on track. Join the service because you want to serve as a military member, not because you’ve run out of options. That stereotype is all but dead these days, because you ain’t gonna be able to cut it, and leadership at all levels is tired of the “80/20” split.

  60. Will King
    Will King says:

    The key is that you need to change the course you’re on – It’s obvious that what you’re doing isn’t working!
    There’s three tracks here (four if you count doing nothing):
    Work – a job, any job!
    School – Prepare for the future
    Military – Shock your system and get some perspective on what’s really important to you.

    Work: It’s got advantages – you haven’t really done anything, so you have no experience on which to decide what you’re good at and what will make you happy. Even a miserable job will teach you things about yourself, force you to deal with people and introduce you to a social circle. If you have no social skills – be prepared for failure (it’s ok, through failure we learn life’s lessons). You’re young, you’re supposed to screw things up – it’s a function of youth!
    You’ll have money in your pocket (for a young man, that’s an important thing!) and a measure of self-sufficiency! You will also start to get a picture of the things you do like doing and things you don’t – don’t be afraid to change jobs till you find what makes you happy – the money will come eventually.

    School – College is a great transition – the environment is somewhat familiar (you’ve been in school most of your life already) – they’re used to dealing with people like you – and there are resources available at most campuses to help you work on your shortcomings – you can get counseling to help deal with the social anxiety, workshops and testing to help you define your skills and interests, and a whole raft of kids in your exact same situation (you’ll soon find you’re not alone with your problems)
    You won’t come out of college with a guarantee of employment, but if employment is a goal, and you keep your studies focused on things that will make you a better employee, you will come out of this ahead of your peers. (I’m paraphrasing Penelope, but if it’s not a bullet on your resume, you shouldn’t be wasting your time on it)

    Military – ahh, the dreaded military – evil, deadly and a refuge for the poor and uneducated! Or so they keep telling me!
    I grew up with the dysfunctional family trifecta – broken home, mental illness and addiction (“Cocaine is a hell of a drug” – Richard Pryor). As an added bonus, I had Asperger’s (the diagnosis in the 70’s was ‘retardation’). With no stability at home and no skills to develop relationships with others (who themselves weren’t messed-up), I knew I had to get out.
    At 16, I dropped out of high school to go to college (it was the quickest way out, and my SAT scores in the 8th grade were better than 75% of graduating high school seniors in my state). I was doing well until my mother (who had the resources) decided that too much money was spent on college (that would be better used at a party) – at 17, there’s no financial aid for students whose parents are too cheap to pay for college. I was working, and enjoyed my independence, but I could afford me, not me and tuition.
    At 17, I joined the Army (you could do that with parental permission). For me, it was a better solution than college – The Rules (capital R) for interaction in the military are fairly fixed – there’s a defined social structure and they’re explicit about how people relate to each other. Non-verbal cues weren’t as critical in my professional life because if I screwed up – someone was very quick to tell me just how and why (and what I can do with myself). Bluntness (a nice way of pointing out that I had no filter on my thoughts) is respected and appreciated. I’m sure I was the bane of my NCOs, (just as I now complain about having to raise other people’s children for them) but for me, it was what I needed. (with my problems, having the Rules explained to me instead of trying to deduce them on my own from non-verbal cues that I simply didn’t understand made life simple – but never easy)
    Given that – 20-odd years later, I’m still in – with a mix of Reserve and Active duty time, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I look back on it and have mixed opinions about recommending it to young people:

    It worked for me, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you
    You will not come out of the military with anything you don’t bring into it – they won’t make a man out of you, you will (or won’t).
    People shoot at you
    People yell at you
    People hate you (I’ve been spit on, called ‘baby killer’ (“Yep, they taste just like chicken!”), attacked openly at funerals (“How does it feel to bury your buddy for an unjust war for oil?”) all the way to the passive-aggressive (“I support the troops, but I don’t want to be associated with you because you’re in the military.”)
    You can screw up your life royally – smoke pot in Seattle, you’re not likely to get a ticket – do it in the military, you get a Bad Conduct Discharge that will follow you forever.
    You give up your constitutional rights (Freedom of speech, Freedom of association, Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, etc…)
    There is no overtime and no 8-hour workdays (even in peacetime) my last deployment was a year of 12-16 hour days (more if the enemy wasn’t cooperative) 7 days a week.
    You will be responsible for things that you never have to worry about in civilian life – including other people’s children
    You will feel personally responsible for the death that occurs around you (could I have done more?)
    You will come home and realize just how little you have in common with those around you.

    The good parts

    You will realize that all this shit that is bothering you now isn’t that important
    You can buy time, space and money to figure out what you want to do with your life
    Bad social skills are not a bar to enlistment
    Your tasks and expectations are clear as a young soldier
    The Rules for interaction are clear
    You have all sorts of opportunities to improve yourself (education, training, additional skills)
    You get money for college (or for your kids college)
    You will learn about yourself
    You will learn about others
    You will learn how to deal with emergencies
    If you stay long enough, you will learn how to lead others
    It still looks good on a resume

    My advice: Pick a path – they’re all valid! The one you’re on now is obviously a dead end…

  61. nkgnikhil
    nkgnikhil says:

    My suggestion for you is Don,t do anything actively,always do thing passively until you decide what you really want to do.And go to your school REGULARLY, always keep yourself BUSY or with someone(Classmates),even for studying in home,I suggest you to study and live with any classmate whom you trust most and do GROUP STUDY.Leave your parents home.
    Your problem is your DOUBLE MIND so to avoid it just do one thing “Whatever you are doing now just do that work only whole heartedly and avoid two goals at the same time,and for self motivation do things(study,living,school,etc) in GROUP(which have same goal)

  62. directionless youth
    directionless youth says:

    As someone facing similar problems i highly disagree with Ms.Trunks advice on going to college. I thought i could find some direction by going to college and getting a degree and when i got there i learned that by not having a clear direction all i did was get myself into debt. I’m still unemployed living with my mother and three younger siblings and am unable to find work since i have no drivers license. and there is no job availabe within walking distance. i would get my license but i can not afford to get my vision corrected or glasses and have no insurance. Whatever you do don’t go to college unless you are sure what you want and determined to strive for it. without the proper motivation it’s almost impossible to get out of this rut but i’m taking any possible effort to find a stable job and highly considering a trade skill. I have some criminal justice training and credits so i’m thinking about a career in corrections it’s a growing feild and theres many career advancement opprotunities.

    • former directionless youth
      former directionless youth says:

      Seems things can get better in a short amount of time but even so fall so much further i now have a job it pays even though it’s minimum wage it’s a start things are looking up
      and i would also like to note on all the negative comments i have received from others on this site none of them are visible now because of all the insults i imagine but i would like to remark on the rudeness and immaturity of such people and think that perhaps their the ones who need to grow up more than myself or even the sender of the above letter

  63. Aniello
    Aniello says:

    Put it this way. You are a man or women, not just now but as soon as you left the womb. You dont HAVE to do ANYTHING. If you feel like there is a kind of life that you want then I have some advice for you. Discover your options for the NOW that you’re in, and build yourself up by choosing the options that will lead you the closest to your end goal. The point of life is to be happy. However you define happiness is up to you. Take what you want and dont be scared. Peace out.

  64. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I don’t know where to start.

    I guess I will start by saying I kind of understand how the writer feels. I personally am in a similar position, being that I turn 22 Next month have no drivers license, no car, no job, no money.
    I previously had a job which I was riding a bicycle 17 miles to but was fired when i came into work sopping wet from rain. As for the money from the job I was paying rent to my parents who also both work. The money that i was able to save(From my last paycheck i Believe) went on a Drivers education course(that’s the law 6 hr drivers ed course EVEN when 21)

    After that i went to the dmv and found out i needed glasses so made an appointment with an eye doctor( optometrist ?) and had my vision checked and of course He gave me his description and a piece of paper saying what type of glasses i needed. Went to walmart bought the cheapest glasses i could find(140$)

    After that i went to the dmv scheduled drivers ed test as well as got my TEMP Permit(Total cost 45$) which only lasted a month until the driving test was to commence.

    However sadly as fate would have it my parents weren’t able to teach me but three times during this period.(and i still could not drive that well)

    I Myself had some thoughts on college or what career path I would like to take but I also have to stop and take a look and think is the best sound decision to make? in the future will this career be the most profitable? will i be able to support a family one day with these numbers?
    Or the all “Can I do this? if so HOW?” the questions go on and on the self doubts, should i shouldn’t I dilemma.

    I myself began after all this happened and not knowing what else to do stepped back and took a look at the military. No it may not be the most Profitable for me right now but there could be potential in the future?

    And at least it gets me on my feet, clothes on my back, money in my pocket maybe not the most money but something nonetheless.

    Then i began looking at requirements for the military(Because when i do something I go all the way no Half Assing it comes from me, i come prepared and expecting the worst)

    And i seen i couldn’t make those requirements not yet anyway(at least the fitness part the asvab on practice exams I score over 90 every test, no not gloating just saying that portions covered)

    So I began my own fitness regime and over the past two months I have lost over 40 lbs and gained a substantial amount of muscle as well.

    Honestly if things dont look up for me then yes I believe the military is a viable career choice FOR ME.

    However end the end the choice is all up to the write of this letter in the end,
    But i truly do hope things get better for him and he makes a choice it doesn’t always have to be the right one, He just has to be satisfied with the choices he makes.


  65. David macgloooorieeeeee
    David macgloooorieeeeee says:

    I haven’t turned 22 yet or 20 seeing as how im only 19 years old And taking it day by day.
    From experience1) get a job you don’t want to ever have to ask your mom and dad for money your not a child. 2) Dont go around comparing yourself to others because you will feel like you are loser ” they have this and I don’t ” ” they have a car but I have a bus token” “you have lobster I eat on tuna” don’t do that 3)take time to laugh at it all , everthing going through your mind,and relate “you don’t have a car I don’t either; ‘how do you pay for a bus trip'”
    And the golden ticket look into a program called americorps NCCC ; free food repeat that free food , new freinds , a place to stay no more living at home, pay,and the chance to travel America “we need it”………. Now laugh

    • former directionless youth
      former directionless youth says:

      i take your advice with great appreciation and would like to thank you for even though most of it doesn’t apply to me i still appreciate the gesture i happen to live in a area that doesn’t offer public transportation so that has no help for me individually however this hasn’t stopped me from getting a job i finally found one and my parents never supported i know i am adult and i act like times are just hard for everyone in someway or another now i find my self in the position as the sole supporter of my family and work everyday for them and were surviving
      i would love to travel and someday i may however for now i’m doing what i can to help raise a family
      thanks again for the advice good luck to you

  66. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Why are people telling him to go the military???? That’s the last thing he needs. Don’t tell him to join the military. That just sounds like a really bad idea. I know what the military is like. Mike do not join the military. Bad Idea. Mike talk to a career counselor or counselor to get an idea of a path to take. This has to be a decision you make, not a decision others make for you. Empower yourself. Good Luck buddy!

  67. Tyler
    Tyler says:

    Maybe your reason for living is so far so advanced that your not the type of person that should work maybe your life purpose is one of those thing you need to focus on and find before you do anything that’s how my life was till I found out who and what I was to the world and the universe do nothing and focus on yourself I’m closer than you think and you are on your right path everything will work out step by step if you keep doing what you been doing ~777~ For more advice look up angel numbers figure out which u have passed and look which one your at now

  68. kailash gurjar
    kailash gurjar says:

    i have done mca and now i’m doing job bt i’m not getting money so i’m very ashmad so i want to leave this field and i want to another type of own business plz tell what type or which business i do that is suitable for me plz help me

  69. Dianne
    Dianne says:

    I would recommend exposing yourself to as many different types of work and experiences as possible and above all take yourself out of your comfort zone. You will never know what your passion is if you don’t seek to find out about yourself and who you are. Your passion in life isn’t going to come and jump in your lap. In exposing yourself to different experiences, at worst, you will find out what you love by process of elimination and you’ll have some great stories to tell later on. At best, you will find your passion and purpose in life and it will light a fire in you like you’ve never known. Also, just a note, I would consider seeing a psychologist, you clearly have trouble talking to people about this because of fear of judgement. Don’t think this is too small for a psychologist to deal with, it can be very helpful to lay everything all out on a table with an objective second pair of eyes and it can make things very clear for you.
    Good luck.

  70. Sakshi
    Sakshi says:

    Hi ,
    I am Sakshi . I have completed my bachelor of engineering with Computer Science in 2012.
    Then i started preparing for govt jobs so i didn’t joined any comp and 1 yrs passed like this so i joined job in a consultancy as a IT recruiter. where i worked for 8 months. Actually from starting i always wanted to join defense so not even tried to join it comp now as 2 yrs is already passed now i m looking for IT jobs but not getting as their is no opening for freshers 2012. I don’t have much interest in IT sector but i have to choose something so not able to decide what to do i want a career which have some adventures for example to visit different places .Sometimes i thought of journalism also but i am not getting what to do can you please guide me what should i choose as my career..I really need some guidance.

  71. Mary
    Mary says:

    People who do not really understand social anxiety or school anxiety etc; cannot paint a picture of what to do. Take one day at a time, and always move forward. Get out of the house every day, shower, change your clothes, go to work or school… just that alone and a sense of a daily accomplishment allows someone to push forward. Have someone to talk to.. counselor, family, friend, someone who “gets” what you have dealt with for so long. Get a doctor you can trust! I’m a parent of someone going thru this anxiety… it’s horrible but we are doing it together and never, ever give up!

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