Best-Of Advice

On not going places

Hi, Coquette. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’ll be 26 in 2 months, I’ve dropped out of school hmmm… 4 times now? I’m in massive amounts of debt. I currently don’t have enough to make rent next month so I’m taking a bus from my dream city back to my hometown. I just got fired from the best job (on paper, at least) that I’ve ever had. The only serious relationship I’ve had was emotionally and physically abusive (that ended about 2 years ago). And I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, or how to dig myself out. I read a lot new age-y self-help stuff about staying positive and shit because I’ve dealt with depression on and off and it seems to help. But honestly, I just want someone to give it to me straight – is there any way out of this? I wasn’t always this way – I was a star student and the girl that was “going places”, and I just want to be productive and happy and driven again.


What the fuck? Fired from the only decent job you’ve ever had? Dropped out of school four times? New age self-help books? Ugh. You’re a fucking disaster.

You were never going places. You were never productive and driven. Get that public high school pep-talk bullshit out of your head, because you’re remembering yourself as happy during a time when all you were was innocent.

Stop romanticizing the past, because the brutal truth is that you were weak and unprepared. You couldn’t cut it in college. You can’t hold down a job, and now you’ve got a one way bus ticket back to what I’m guessing is one of your family member’s guest rooms.

Yeah, your life fucking sucks right now. You’re getting your ass thoroughly kicked by the real world, and you’re not even bothering to give me a list of excuses — probably because you know I’d call you out on them.

Please, do yourself a favor. Take all your stupid self-help books down to the local thrift store and trade them in for one decent Tina Turner album. I swear to everything holy that you’ll get more useful inspiration out of one of her B-sides than you will from an entire wall full of positive-thinking books.

I’m serious. Self help books are for fucking losers, and staying positive for people like you means living in a constant state of denial. Stop blowing sunshine up your own ass. Your life is a steaming pile of shambles, and a bunch of smiley-faced wish-thinking won’t make it any better.

The only way out of your situation is through slow and steady progress. It will not be easy. It will not be fun. You need to come to terms with the inevitability that you are going to have to work a shitty job, and since you’re a flighty mess, you’re going to have to summon all your willpower just to hold that job down.

You don’t get to sulk. You don’t get to whine. You have to be thankful and grateful and show up every day with a good attitude. (There’s your positive fucking thinking for you.) You will do this week-in and week-out for the rest of your life. Maybe you’ll meet a guy who doesn’t treat you like shit, and maybe you’ll squeeze out a rugrat or two, but odds are good that you’re never leaving your hometown again.

And you know what? You’ll be just fine.

You’ll make your way. You’ll have your set of friends. You’ll do some cute local Etsy shit on the side to occupy your spare time, and then one day you’ll wake up and realize that this is all there is to American adulthood. It’s all there ever was.

The whole time you thought you were “digging yourself out,” that was actually your life, and sure, it could’ve been easier, and it would’ve been nice to have more money, but really, on the whole, it wasn’t all that bad.


15 thoughts on “On not going places

  1. Perspectivator says:

    All the effort in holding a job will give you the confidence and self worth you need to get you swiftly out of your next abusive relationship or make it what you need.

    I wish you the best.

  2. Louise says:

    “The whole time you thought you were “digging yourself out,” that was actually your life, and sure, it could’ve been easier, and it would’ve been nice to have more money, but really, on the whole, it wasn’t all that bad.”

    Beautifully and truthfully written.
    I admire you endlessly.

  3. Jackzon says:

    I wasn’t on board with this part of Coquette’s answer:

    “but odds are good that you’re never leaving your hometown again.”

    That’s not very encouraging. She’s left before, she’ll leave again if that’s what she wants.

    • Chi says:

      I think coquette may have said that because it’s getting harder these days to find decent jobs without a college degree and in some places, a basic bachelor’s degree doesn’t even help.

      my advice to LW is this: take any decent paying job you can find. Work on paying down that student debt esp. if you used a cosigner; if you default, they go after cosigner. Since you’re between jobs,apply for forbearance and when you get a job, get caught up. Also, don’t abuse the privilege of living at home or with someone because it is a privilege.

      You should be fine. At your age, I was lost too. My parents were helpful to an extent; my mother didn’t mind me staying with them since I helped with ‘dude’ stuff: mowing,fixing shit around the house, handling her medical stuff,etc. My dad just wanted me to ‘grow up already’. I had a sales job I hated. I worked for a company that was so unethical it wasn’t funny but I needed the pay. That pay helped with gas money when I decided to get a second degree.

      You’ll be fine IF you want to be. Find a job and don’t think any is beneath you IF it’s decent pay. Pay down your loans, save some money if you can.Then decide what you want to be when you grow up. If you can stomach additional debt, give college another try and do a ‘practical’ major that has good ROI. I also tell women to stop all relationship goals until they get their financial issues handled and become financially independent (to an extent). If you can’t afford going out on your own dime but can when someone else is footing the bill: that’s my litmus test. It took me 5 years to fix my shit (I’m 31). Two of those were spent getting a graduate degree in accounting which is very different from my BS major in marketing,another year to do an internship and somehow I ended up in my dream city. Am I totally happy? Nope, but I am content for now. I think we run into trouble when we start thinking “is this all there is to being an adult?” We then realise that we had it way easy in college because there was structure.

      Good luck!

  4. You mention depression – was this diagnosed by a mental health professional, or is it something you’ve dealt with on your own?

    Either way, if you’re not in therapy, it would be helpful to start there. It may be depression, or it could be something else instead or in addition. It can make an enormous difference in how well you function.

    I have a history of depression, was diagnosed with bipolar in my early 30s, and ADHD in my early 40s. I am currently unable to work and have had trouble functioning on a day-to-day basis even at home. I was recently started on Wellbutrin (antidepressant that can also be used for ADHD), and I’m astounded at how much better it has made me feel. I have more energy and enthusiasm even for mundane tasks. I’m confident that with med tweaking and some more therapy, I’ll be able to go back to work.

    Do not see a general practitioner except to get a referral. Mental health issues need to be diagnosed by a therapist/psychiatrist. If you have a mental illness, nothing is going to help until you deal with it directly.

    • Ashley says:

      i second this, but i also add to be careful with going straight to meds. for this person, it worked out well, but for you it may not be what you need. definitely try therapy (talk, CBT) before going to meds – if the doctor just hands you a prescription and doesn’t listen to you, run.

      and if you do get a prescription, be careful, all drugs affect everyone differently. i was a murder-craving lunatic on wellbutrin – it scared me so much that a drug that can have that affect on me is even on the market! but of course, everyones different!

      seriously though, depression might be part of the cause of your problems. depression totally fucks up your lack of motivation, which is why your life might be going to shit. stop the death spiral before its too late! and don’t use your mental health issues as a crutch either, my ex gf did that and didnt accept any responsibility for anything going wrong in her life at all because she had depression and anxiety problems. it was an excuse for everything. its a valid explanation, but work on yourself to try to change the path.

  5. Ashley says:

    Brilliant. Also the story of my life, and my life is pretty fucking great. Good luck, it gets better once you release the delusion of being special. Start living your life.

    • Jessica says:

      Yup, special people are not automatically happy. In fact, sometimes they’re miserable. And you can be the most ordinary person alive and still be perfectly happy. I know, I can’t believe it either, but it’s true!

      That said, I hope that her hometown has jobs in it and isn’t, I don’t know, Bakersfield.

  6. sunny41 says:

    When I was 26, I was in the EXACT SAME situation. I just barely graduated college 6 months before the economy tanked. I couldn’t find a job. I couldn’t pay rent. I began drinking a lot. Moving back with my father was a miserable experience that led to more bad decisions. Then I found a shitty part-time job. Then I found another. Then I saved every penny I could for 6 months and packed up and moved across the country to a city I’d never been to start a relationship with someone who ended up being a miserable turd, and spent far more time in that relationship than I should have, because I knew no other way. I wasn’t happy in the city I was living, my relationship was holding me back, my job was exhausting and dull, and I often felt hopeless, which forced me to explore areas outside of the city and dream about the life I wanted. I also began to think about what type of career would really make me the most happy. I daydreamed so often, I sometimes wondered if I’d have a mental breakdown and remain mentally stuck in my dream world. I began attempting to create my own business doing what I love, and I found I was happiest when I spent weekends visiting friends in a small town a couple hours away. When my relationship finally ended, I decided to relocate to the only place that brought me a shred of happiness over the previous couple of years. The first morning I woke up in my new home, I finally began receiving a small amount of work through the business I’d been trying to launch for the past year. I ended up finding a part time job that wasn’t completely miserable, paid quite well, and introduced me to a group of some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Then about 6 months later, I met a great guy. We’ve been together for a year, living and working together almost the entire time (which is ill-advised and taxing on any relationship, yet somehow since our relationship started while working together, we learned to work together incredibly well). Our relationship is drama-free, functional, and loving. I didn’t even think it was possible to have a relationship this great. My business is growing every day and has been supporting me enough to allow me to quit the part time job and focus on doing what I do best. For the first time in my life, I’m truly happy. I’m not saying this will happen for everyone. There was no method to how things picked up. I’m just saying that life is random and has extreme ups and downs. Sometimes you need to spend a lot of time feeling unhappy to get the fire lit under your ass to go out and change what makes you miserable. And finding your bliss does require a lot of hard work. It’s entirely possible to wake up one day, a year from now, a couple of years from now, and realize that you’re happy. And then things may collapse, and you rebuild again. Just keep reminding yourself that your shitty situation is only temporary, and that pain lessens over time. It is all a learning experience.

    (and I agree, you don’t learn shit from self-help books)

  7. xgreydovex says:

    This post and the comments are what I’ve really needed to hear the past couple months. I’m 26, living with my mom, working a part time job I hate while deluding myself that I’m making any progress with moving on. I’ve gotten complacent with slumming it and have lost motivation to try to find something better. Sure, I have reasons (medical/mental/familial) but I need to stop using them as a crutch.

  8. Helen says:

    This post is so true that it hurts in the best way. I see a lot of myself in the OP and I am finally sorting my shit out. I’m doing some short courses to cut my teeth on while holding down a job and I’m going to therapy every two weeks (could not have got here without CT) but I finally own my shit. I got over myself and I came crashing to reality and it was dark and messy and shitty and I am crawling back up To the light and you know what? I have realised that I am strong, I can fucking do this and I am going to get my degree and my emotions aren’t going to stop me. I just have to take my time and try my best.

  9. Anonymous Poster says:

    I’m in my thirties and I’m in a situation far more similar to the OP than I’d like to admit—or at least, one that’s worse than I’d like to admit. (At least they might have a job in the near future.) So a little bit of advice from someone in a rather fucked situation of their own:

    * Yes, self-help books are bullshit. Ditto for self-help blogs. Replace “help” with “hell” (as I almost accidentally did while typing this comment) to remember this.
    * No one can do shit for you but you. Your friends can’t eat better for you, your parents can’t find a job for you (unless they’re rich), and Coquette can’t find your path for you (no matter how much we’d all love for her to do that for us). You have to learn how to kick your own ass—and even though it’s painful, it’s the only thing that’ll get your ass in gear.
    * I don’t know what the fuck I’m gonna do with my life. Nobody does. Life changes so much from second to second and day to day that you can’t plan for what it’ll toss you. So quit worrying so damn much about what you’re going to do with your life in the far future and start giving a shit about what you’re doing in the present/near-future. Say you wanna be a writer: if you want that dream you have about the seven-figure book deal that gets you on the chair next to Stephen Colbert to come true, you need to wake the fuck up from the dream and get to writing.

    You’re fucked. So is everyone else who isn’t in the 1%. Get over it and get to work making what you can of your life, and maybe tomorrow you won’t be as fucked as you were yesterday.

    Unless you’re a nymphomaniac.

  10. gia says:

    i didnt really love this advice.
    ive been kicked out of college twice for poor grades. i slacked hard and never studied.
    i am now enrolled again, with some debt hanging over my head, but im older now. i understand the worth of college. the time commitment. the sacrifice it takes. but i truly would rather stay home in my room at my desk reading than going out on a coke binge like i used to do on the wkends. priorities change.
    you may change your mind about school. im getting straight As at the moment. and i have so much confidence in class. i go visit my profs and chat with them. ive even been encouraged to apply to the graduate program- and they know my past grades. point is: dont ever let anyone tell you this is it. maybe coketalk wrote this post with the intention to make you feel really bad so you would prove her wrong… prove her wrong! xx

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