The Key to My Suck-sess

06/28/2010 10:37

I am a thirty year-old single male who has recently returned to the US after working and studying abroad for the past two plus years. When I was forced to move back to the United States because of a lack of work, I was hoping to find a job with the government or an NGO in the field of international development. Now, nine months later, I am living with my parents, very single and still unemployed. The whole situation is having increasingly negative effects on my attitude and self confidence. I have spent the last 10 - 12 years preparing myself to accomplish the many goals that I have set for myself (this includes putting myself through school, obtaining 4 degrees, living in three different countries and being completely fluent in a foreign language). I've always felt that of the many things I would like to achieve in my life, there are a few things that are or would be central to my happiness: being a husband and father, and being gainfully employed in a job where I felt like I was helping others, making things better. These goals are now seemingly stifled by the current economic situation that plagues so many of us. I find myself frustrated and often depressed with my apparent lack of control over my unemployment and by the realization that the chances of an unemployed 30 year old living with his parents attracting a desirable woman are fairly slim. I am also becoming aware of the negative effects that my souring attitude is having on those around me. I often find myself curt and ornery with my parents and other family members and apathetic towards the very few social opportunities that may be available in my very small hometown. What can I do? – JJ

 What Mary Says...  What Crystal Says...

Dear JJ:

Are you from Pottsville? I ask because I come from that sort of small town that hinders growth, social stimulation and accomplishment. Aside from that, I have to say: Whew! You have certainly achieved a lot for being 30. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments! It’s too bad that you didn’t get a degree in financial planning because that could’ve saved you from moving back in with the ‘rents. You sound like you’re doing a whole lot of pitying and not enough doing: You have four degrees, you’re fluent in a foreign language and you’ve lived in three other countries … blah, blah. Well, where did that get you - back in your hometown with Burger King as your only prospect for gainful employment. The way I see it you have two choices: suck it up and get any job you can for now even if that means being a greeter at Wal Mart (so you can get out of your parents house) or take the money you may have in your savings account and hit the open road where unemployment is not in the double digits. In other words, move.                            





































Dear JJ:

In order to help, let’s take a page from one of the leaders in human development, Erik Erikson. At 30-something, our motivation is for generativity. Basically, we want to feel like who we are makes a difference to the world. We want to give back. Sure, some of us have always wanted these things, but in our 30’s, it becomes our version of the Romeo and Juliet love coveted in adolescence. It’s our raison d’être. Without this sense of worth, we experience stagnation where we are mired in an embitterment that fills us with loss and hopelessness for the world.

So what does this mean for JJ? Well, let’s face it. You’re bitter. Your sense of worth is non-existent, and so you’ve lost your passion for life. Yet if I was your therapist I would applaud you, because it means you’re RIGHT where you need to be, squashed dreams or not. You’re not dealing with some childhood trauma. You’ve done well; you’ve passed the fundamental goals that we should (but do not always) traverse.

And now? Now, you act. Stop feeling sorry for yourself because you aren’t who you wanted to be. We all have aspirations for ourselves that never come to fruition. I wanted to be queen of the world when I was a child – hell, I STILL want to be queen. In a non-tyrant country I knew that would always be a difficult undertaking, but I was damn well going to be important. The CIA…FBI…I was going to be somebody significant. That dream? Alas, that dream died hard. I think I had at least 6 funerals for that one, and I’m sure I’ve got at least one more coming. But now, I try to focus my efforts on other things that bring me joy and make me feel worthy. Those other things didn’t fall in my lap, I had to go out there and find them.

You’re ONLY in your 30s. That means dick in the span of things. So you can’t get THE job. Eh. You’ve got 700 degrees and a wealth of abilities. Someone will hire you if you widen your horizons. Why not try a completely different line of work? And maybe try picking up a new hobby where you can meet new people. Who knows? You wouldn’t be the first jobless guy still living with his parents to find love.

Nietzsche said, “In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments.” Though he’s a little existential for my taste, I’m afraid I can’t disagree with him on this one. Letting your dreams die is an anguish many of us go through, only to foolishly revive them time and time again. The “some days” and “I should’s” become our addictions, distorting the reality of now with the fantasies of maybe. So put the needle down, JJ. It’s time to let go of the childhood vision of who you wished you were, and start accepting the man you are.                                  





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