Today we answer a letter from Patreon Donor Julia, who feels lost after making a big change of direction in her life.
“I’m twenty-one years old and I was in college majoring in biology, but I was just miserable and had to leave. But all I ever wanted to do was science, and now I’m really struggling with what to do next. I was paying for classes as I went (as much as I could, anyway) so I only have one loan to pay off. But I just really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’ve worked in retail and foodservice and I hated it. I’ve been applying to daycare centers because I like kids, but I haven’t heard back from any of them. Any advice you could give me on finding a direction would be very much appreciated.”
This question made our hearts heavy. We hate to see a twenty-one-year-old sounding so lost and resigned. Because twenty-one is so young! You’re an adult when you’re twenty-one, but like, it’s the toddler stage of adulthood. The world won’t always feel so intimidating and impenetrable.
Our Boomer parents would certainly tell her to fOlLoW hEr DrEaM, dAmN tHe CoNsEqUeNcEs. But obviously we have to bring a more nuanced answer than that.
Allow us to remind all of our young listeners that…
- Cs are passing grades. They are enough. Let yourself step down off the hamster wheel of your own demanding expectations.
- College curricula can be more challenging than the “real world” career you’re preparing you for.
- Piggy and I graduated from college ten years ago, and in the last decade, the number of employers who have expressed a desire to know our letter grades in college is absolute zero—a thermodynamic state once thought to be merely theoretical! SCIENCE!
- Some careers are challenging to pursue because they’re vanishingly rare and impossibly glamorous: professional video game player, A-list film actor, high-end vibrator tester, etc. But other careers are challenging to pursue because they require a lot of intelligence, persistence, and education: biologist, surgeon, high-end vibrator engineer. Shake the former, push the latter.
- STEM fields will remain overwhelmingly male so long as women and nonbinary folks lack mentors and programs to help them through the doubt.
- Sometimes you wanna quit because you know yourself, and you’ve made a mature and informed decision about what’s best for you. Other times you wanna quit because you’re scared of failure, or scared of success, or unsure how to move forward. You will spend a lot of your young adulthood learning to spot the difference between the two.
A huge thank-you to Julia—both for being our patron, and for asking such a vulnerable question. I know she isn’t the only young person struggling with this kind of confusion and angst. We hope our answer will help her, as well as others who find themselves in a similar situation.
And as always, thanks to ALL of our patrons! Without you, we would not exist. And boy do we love existing!
If you have a question burning in your mind, we are happy to answer it! Find out how at our Patreon page.