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> my mid-20s crisis
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jark
post Apr 9 2015, 06:02 PM
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Hi guys.

I thought about posting this in the jobs thread but then thought maybe it deserves its own. I'm 23 and I got a first at uni. Then I went to live in Switzerland for a year and loved it. And since then my life has plateaued big time.

I don't know if I'm depressed but I feel like I'm wasting my life. I got fired in January and since then I deliberately took it easy looking for jobs. At the minute I'm just doing a couple of casual freelance writing bits from home which pay ok but they're not a job, and I'm basically living rent free with my dad which is not ideal.

I just don't know where to go next or what I should be aiming for. I do best when I have goals to work towards or ambitions, but lately I feel drained of ambition. I'm terrified of achieving nothing in life but can't seem to get out of this malaise.

Has anyone ever changed career path drastically, abandoned their precious goals, retrained as something new? I'm smart and feel like I could do well if only I knew where I should be going next. Is this a generational thing or am I alone?

All advice appreciated...
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Nadolig Llawen!
post Apr 9 2015, 06:30 PM
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It's never nice to not know where you're going next. When I was your age (only three years ago mind) I actually was contemplating a change in career. I was close to completing my first year of teaching and it had been an awful year covering for a maternity leave. Forever it seemed like only temp jobs would ever be available. Had I decided to change I'd be in your boat because I don't know what else I'd do. I was lucky as I got a permanent job not long after and am still enjoying it now thankfully.

My brother is 29 next month but he seems quite similar. He always wanted to enter journalism and was quick to pick up work experience here and there but nothing that paid. Not being able to drive initially held him back (he can now) but rejection after rejection writing soon became just a hobby and he wrote football match reports for his local team for free. He turned his hand to painting and decorating which became quite a talent for him. He was planning to start up his own business in that field but then he was offered a position at the local paper. Just like that he was back doing what he had initially wanted to and the opportunity sprang from almost nowhere.

So I guess things could change for you at any point, Jark. In the meantime, what is it you're passionate for? Is there any way right now or in the near future for you to pursue a career in that field? If you're not particularly passionate for any career at the moment then perhaps you could consider what sort of work you wouldn't mind doing, regardless of whether or not you'd want to do it for the rest of your life. It's never too late to change if you find something you want more.

I wouldn't worry about approaching your mid 20s and feeling like you've achieved nothing. I'm 26 and all I do is teach Welsh of all subjects as a second language in a school on the border of England and Wales. There is a lot of pressure these days to achieve a lot young. When you can achieve at any point in your life.

Also life isn't all about career although it's easy to think otherwise in the world we live in unfortunately. I'm sure you succeed in bringing happiness to family members and friends, as corny as it sounds. What I have learned is that when you do figure out what you want, you need to keep plugging away at it. Myself, my brother and my sister, who endured almost poverty before she finally got her lucrative position at the BFI, kept going until we got what we wanted no matter where events and decisions took us.

It's important to realise it's never too late to achieve and that you must focus on satisfying yourself rather than everyone around you. Others may not see things you've done as an achievement, but that shouldn't stop you from doing so. I'm proud of what I've achieved, though on paper to others it pales in comparison to my siblings.

That's just my 2 cents. I hope it helps.
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Joe ho ho!
post Apr 9 2015, 06:31 PM
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Jark I know how you feel and it's really common. I call it he post-academic drift - which is something that can last for a long time - I've experienced it first hand and I know a lot of my friends did (some still are). I graduated with a good English degree (back in 2010) and couldn't find work for a a long while. I had to start on the dole for a few months and then had to get a minimum wage bar job for a year, with really shitty hours, so even though I enjoyed it at the time, it wasn't enough to sustain any kind of living.

I say look for office temping jobs. I signed up with a few agencies, when I finally got sick of my bar job and built up lots of good experience temping from place to place. It is of course a difficult plunge to take when you have specific ideas and ambitions of the direction of career you want to take, but it doesn't mean you have to give up on anything. My temping on one of my placements eventually turned into a job and then I got promoted a few times and am now a 'business analyst officer' (don't even try to ask what that is) - which is far from what I wanted creatively and in terms of my degree, but gives me a solid income. So I say maybe look at temping, but don't stop with the freelance writing, because it's important to keep the creative part of your brain running too. I've just now gotten another job as the Film Editor for Attitude Magazine, too (which has taken 4 years of writing freelance bits and bobs). I have no idea how I'll balance my two jobs but I'll soon find out...

The thing to remember is, you're only 23. It's easy to get stressed and anxious thinking there's a time limit on everything but there really isn't. It take decades for some people to find their feet, just always try to keep yourself on your toes, it's OKAY not to know exactly what to do, you shouldn't force it. As Marina says, 'good things come to those who wait.'


This post has been edited by Joe.: Apr 9 2015, 06:33 PM
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gooddelta
post Apr 9 2015, 06:49 PM
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QUOTE(jark @ Apr 9 2015, 07:02 PM) *
Hi guys.

I thought about posting this in the jobs thread but then thought maybe it deserves its own. I'm 23 and I got a first at uni. Then I went to live in Switzerland for a year and loved it. And since then my life has plateaued big time.

I don't know if I'm depressed but I feel like I'm wasting my life. I got fired in January and since then I deliberately took it easy looking for jobs. At the minute I'm just doing a couple of casual freelance writing bits from home which pay ok but they're not a job, and I'm basically living rent free with my dad which is not ideal.

I just don't know where to go next or what I should be aiming for. I do best when I have goals to work towards or ambitions, but lately I feel drained of ambition. I'm terrified of achieving nothing in life but can't seem to get out of this malaise.

Has anyone ever changed career path drastically, abandoned their precious goals, retrained as something new? I'm smart and feel like I could do well if only I knew where I should be going next. Is this a generational thing or am I alone?

All advice appreciated...


Yes, I gave up a secure retail management job to train properly as a magazine journalist at 26. A year and a half later and I've worked for a magazine for just over a year now.

It was a big risky move and I'm in debt to the tune of a few grand but I'm glad I did it as it made me feel like I achieved what I set out to do - to become a writer. Ultimately writing about the printing industry is not the sort of thing I thought I'd end up doing at all and not really what I WANT to do but I'm paying my dues and I feel like I'll hopefully get to where I want to get to with the more journalism experience I have behind me.

My advice would be to make a list of realistic career options, weigh up the pros and cons of each and make a reasoned and focused decision as to what you think you might like to do. Once you've made a decision retrain in whatever area that is if necessary and just go for it. Do things step by step rather than thinking of them as a massive immediate change that you have to do all in one go and it seems easier to digest/manage, at least that's what I did and it worked for me. Don't worry about how long it takes to get there, try and remove any pressure that you put on yourself - it took me six years between graduating from uni and finally bagging a media job!
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Rooney
post Apr 9 2015, 06:51 PM
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I think the above probably sum up my thoughts as well.

When I finished University, I came out from a top 10 Uni with a 2:1 in Linguistics. However I knew I no longer wanted to go in to that field, but I also had no idea what I wanted to do. I took a 'gap year' then went travelling. I thought when I returned that I would find a new purpose in life and it would really settle me - it didn't. I knew what field I thought I wanted to go in to. So I took my easy job back again, and tried to get in to it. About 8 months later I was still having no luck trying to break in to the industry. It was soul destroying. All the feedback I kept getting was they really liked me, but I lacked experience (bare in mind these were often for v.temp contracts/interns!). I knew then that I was wasting my life trying to break in to what I wanted to do, but I was not gaining any new skills / networking in my current job. I'd lost focus and it was seeping through in to my personal life. I don't think it makes it any better when friends have these huge salaries and start getting mortgages!

However I knew what I needed to do, and that was get experience. Even for full-time salaried positions I was losing out because although I came across really well in interviews, I lacked experience. So I eventually got on a placement after doing an assessment centre. I'm thankful enough that I live in a city where there are good employment opportunities for white collar jobs. From the placement I got offered a temp contract, and now while I'm still on a temp contract until next year, the idea is that it will move to a perm once the project that I'm working gathers pace (18 month project!!!).

Even though I'm in a good job, on a decent salary for someone with no experience and with a massive company truthfully I still have no idea about what I want to do in the future. But the key is I'm learning new skills all the time, and networking with people across the business.

I think going back to an easy job, is just that 'the easy' option. It's simple, mind-numbling work that your bosses probably even hate. Even if you do want to go in to writing, I would look to sign up for an agency and get some office experience. Even if the money is worse and you hate it - you're learning something new. Despite what people may tell you, the job market is tough out there. I cannot stress enough how important KNOWING people is. The amount of people I work with that have got jobs through knowing people connected to the company is outstanding. Most good jobs are never actually advertised - they find you!
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jark
post Apr 9 2015, 07:02 PM
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Thanks guys for the responses. Rooney, the experience thing is what's tripping me up for sure. What I wanted to do for a long time was work in television, but then I kind of shifted my goal to getting a PR job because I can write well and feel like I have some creativity to offer. But with no experience under my belt it's basically impossible to get paid work, and where I am now I don't really live close enough to a city to travel every day and work for free.

Drift is exactly the right word for it. I'm drifting through nothingness. And yes T boy you're right, there is pressure to achieve, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I also equate money with success and happiness so I find it hard to motivate myself to work unpaid for the prospect of a badly laid job a few months down the line, which I guess I need to get over.

I would like to live and work in Germany or Switzerland, and have considered spending a month doing an intensive German course to get my language skills up to a decent level. But that will drain my finances. There are so many pros and cons to every option, it's overwhelming.
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Nadolig Llawen!
post Apr 9 2015, 07:12 PM
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Have you thought of self training yourself with the German? It will cost you the cost of a revision guide probably but most come with CDs to help you practise. I know it won't be as effective immediately as an actual course but it could be better than nothing if that's the way you'd like to go.
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Rooney
post Apr 9 2015, 07:15 PM
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QUOTE(jark @ Apr 9 2015, 08:02 PM) *
Thanks guys for the responses. Rooney, the experience thing is what's tripping me up for sure. What I wanted to do for a long time was work in television, but then I kind of shifted my goal to getting a PR job because I can write well and feel like I have some creativity to offer. But with no experience under my belt it's basically impossible to get paid work, and where I am now I don't really live close enough to a city to travel every day and work for free.

Drift is exactly the right word for it. I'm drifting through nothingness. And yes T boy you're right, there is pressure to achieve, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I also equate money with success and happiness so I find it hard to motivate myself to work unpaid for the prospect of a badly laid job a few months down the line, which I guess I need to get over.

I would like to live and work in Germany or Switzerland, and have considered spending a month doing an intensive German course to get my language skills up to a decent level. But that will drain my finances. There are so many pros and cons to every option, it's overwhelming.


What I would say about PR is it is literally the most difficult industry to get in to, and imo as a form is dying out unless you work for one of the big firms in London. Unfortunately the competition is literally crazy. I have a friend that works for an agency in Manchester and they get hundreds of CVs/Covering Letters every week, and they might take a work exp/intern once every 6 months. It's complete luck. I would genuinely just suggest finding some temp work - it might be working as an admin, reception work but it's extra experience and gets you one step closer to finding something better. Television/Media/Film/Music are such popular industries to go in to because they sound so appealing. But from my own experience unless you know somebody, or are incredibly lucky it's so difficult to get in as an entry level role.

Have you ever thought of just applying for some crap job and just moving to a city and then looking for something better? It sounds like you might need to consider this!

You're only 23. There's nothing to stop you being a writer / television in 3 years time after getting some experience. Unfortunately, this is just the job climate, and it's only going to get worse, as more and more companies invest in technology to cut headcount.
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jark
post Apr 9 2015, 07:16 PM
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Well (in response to t boy) I took a class twice a week for six months so I'm at A2/possibly B1 level and I'm not sure being self taught would be that effective - I need the classroom environment to progress as it becomes more complex. But of course in the absence of that, learning at home is better than nothing. I've thought about actually taking the intensive school in Germany and living there for the duration. It still leaves me with the problem though of speaking their language but not having a clue about what career path to take, so I need to decide whether it's worth spending all my money doing that.

Roo, you're right. It seems like a lot of people get some form of experience in PR, but then when it comes to an actual paid job there just aren't that many going. I'm not opposed to moving at all, esp as I'd like to meet more people my age and going somewhere new would achieve that. I just feel stifled in England generally though.


This post has been edited by jark: Apr 9 2015, 07:19 PM
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Nadolig Llawen!
post Apr 9 2015, 07:20 PM
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Putting yourself in an environment where German is spoken constantly would be an ideal solution if you could afford to do so. I am not a native Welsh speaker but am now fluent in the language because I chose to live in a hall of residence at uni that catered specifically to Welsh speakers. It was difficult at first but had I gone to an English speaking Hall, I wouldn't have achieved my goal.
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Rooney
post Apr 9 2015, 07:25 PM
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QUOTE(jark @ Apr 9 2015, 08:16 PM) *
Well (in response to t boy) I took a class twice a week for six months so I'm at A2/possibly B1 level and I'm not sure being self taught would be that effective - I need the classroom environment to progress as it becomes more complex. But of course in the absence of that, learning at home is better than nothing. I've thought about actually taking the intensive school in Germany and living there for the duration. It still leaves me with the problem though of speaking their language but not having a clue about what career path to take, so I need to decide whether it's worth spending all my money doing that.

Roo, you're right. It seems like a lot of people get some form of experience in PR, but then when it comes to an actual paid job there just aren't that many going. I'm not opposed to moving at all, esp as I'd like to meet more people my age and going somewhere new would achieve that. I just feel stifled in England generally though.


Maybe you might find stagnant in England, but you will find many companies/agencies will often have offices abroad, even for something stupid! It gets so much easier, and more financially secure to take the move abroad when your company will do all the research work for you. It seems to me that you might want to consider moving to a bigger city. Most people would probably say London, but I find that stupid unless you get to work in Central as everything is extortionate. I don't want to be a student again on a living salary. I would seriously suggest checking Leeds out. The city is booming, and is only going to grow as there is lots of private/public investment in it.
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Martyn
post Apr 9 2015, 07:32 PM
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I am in a similar position. In not knowing what I want to do. I graduated in 2010, I mostly went to Uni to prove that I could do it as well as for the experience. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I am in a job that will lead know where (retail). I am lucky I've ended up in a position where I can take a break. I've got 12 weeks off, 8 of which I am going travelling for. The rest I think I am going to job hunt with. Although I dunno what to do career wise.
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jark
post Apr 9 2015, 09:14 PM
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I've done a little research tonight and found a number of schools in Germany where I can do a month intensive course for around 1k including accommo and flights, so I think I'm going to pursue this. Seems the best option when otherwise I will just spend that money on clothes and stupid stuff I don't need, and remain jobless with no second language skills. At least this sets up options for the future.
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post Apr 10 2015, 05:14 PM
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Very much relating to the abovementioned situations posted here and the advice given here is somewhat helpful

I completed my degree in hospitality and commerce 2 years ago, I've done several extra courses and internships and I am still only getting really badly paid jobs in the industry. I have such a passion for it, but the poor pay really has began to drain that passion out of me. I feel like I will forever struggle to earn a promotion or find something better paid, especially with Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa

It is so frustrating, especially when I am still living with my mother, and when the majority of my friends are excelling in their careers and financially. I know it's always you should focus on you, but at the end of the day life is hard and you deal with people and friends who judge your life and career on a daily basis - that is something you can't just brush off your shoulder

It's gotten so bad that I am considering going into accounting, something I'm not good at, but something all my friends are doing. Accounting also pays at least 10 times more than what I'm getting now, and there are abundant career opportunities in the field. I'm going on 23 this year and feel like I've wasted so many years career-wise, and I am generally a person who needs to operate and excel. This in mind, my current career situation has really put in a negative frame of mind for months now, and with the pay I'm getting at the moment - it's impossible for me to afford studying again

Conversely, I do have the opportunity of applying for a clerkship at an accounting firm who will pay my studies, and though discouraged, I am trying to find something along those lines
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post Apr 10 2015, 05:25 PM
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A quick response, and it may sound like an idealised perspective, but it's never too late to change your direction - dependants and financial worries aside. I'm 39 and I've decided I'm fed up with office jobs and I want to work with people.

To get experience in the field I want to work in or re-train in I am planning to volunteer for http://www.circles-uk.org.uk/ when they start up in Ireland later this year.

I've got a degree and two higher diplomas in IT but I really feel I want to work with people - so I'm going to change direction, if I can. Everyone says I'd be amazing working with people.

But, less about me - Jark, you'll be long enough working in your sector so the earlier you start positioning yourself to get into it then the sooner you'll be there.
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