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Need some direction - November 18th 2013, 08:07 AM

Hi everyone, my first post in this forum. It's going to be pretty long and rambling so apologies in advance.

I was a straight A student through my early school career, was moved up a grade, graduated as dux and then halfway through highschool...my grades suddenly began slipping and before I knew it I was barely passing. I knew why - I did no study and struggled to put the time into assignments - but I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't have the motivation to force myself to work and I didn't understand how others managed.

I graduated high school with a decent mark (painfully low by my self-standards) and took a gap year so I could "mature" (my parent's term) and be ready for uni. I didn't really know what I wanted to do in terms of a career. I took a few casual jobs and earned a bit of money but didn't do much.

The year after I started uni, studying Journalism. It was pretty boring, and although I passed all my units that semester, I decided to change to a generic Professional Writing degree. Even more boring, and my problems with doing enough work to get by became even worse. I only passed two units.

The start of 2013 - I change uni's, now studying Politics and International Studies. There's some interesting stuff but in general I'm still bored and within two weeks of the new semester I know I'm going to fail everything. Which is pretty much what happens, with one exception. Which brings us to where I am now - dropping out of uni.

Reading through this it might seem that my problem's obvious, that I'm studying things I'm not interested in. However, I've seen a careers-specialist psychologist who basically confirmed that I'm studying the right things in terms of both my interests and abilities, and that I should have no problems with my degree.

You might also say that I need to stop ****ing around and do some work. Fair enough. But I can and do work hard at some things, but not at others. Why? The university psychologist tells me I have chronic procrastination - which is like ordinary procrastination, except the fear or anxiety of doing important tasks is strong enough that you just don't do them, even if this will have severe consequences. However, her advice for dealing with this has so far been useless.

So maybe studying just isn't for me and I should get a job? Well, that's basically what I have to do - look for an entrance-level job and explain to an interviewer how I've managed to waste the last 3 years of my life. I'm worried I'm just going to wind up in a dead end job which I hate until I finally kill myself somewhere down the track, melodramatic as that is, because I've taken it for granted for most of the last few years that that's how my life will end. And no, I don't have depression. I have a loving girlfriend and a good social life; I'm just feeling hopeless about my future and completely directionless.

I guess I should mention that I have a two-day-a-week job at a local cafe, which I enjoy and have some good friends at, but I can't bear the thought of working there long term - becoming a "no-hoper" in my own head and to others.

Really any advice, either on what I should do, or on how to get over my own unrealistic expectations etc etc would be really appreciated. Thanks if you managed to stick with this to the end.
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Re: Need some direction - November 18th 2013, 06:48 PM

Hello, and welcome to TeenHelp!

Has this psychologist done a thorough assessment for mental illnesses that could be affecting your ability to perform well in school? Depression, ADD/ADHD, and learning disorders are all things that should be thoroughly explored before concluding you struggle with "chronic procrastination." In fact, since this psychologist hasn't been terribly helpful thus far, it might be a good idea to get a referral to see someone else. (By the way, depression does NOT always manifest as sadness... irritability is often seen in younger people.)

It seems you have the innate ability to succeed academically, but something happened along the way. It could be a combination of factors. You might have been shocked by how poorly you performed, which led to feelings of anxiety and depression. That could have led to feeling unmotivated, which prevented you from developing better study habits. Now, it has been so long that making a significant change might seem incredibly difficult, if not impossible. There isn't a simple answer to all this, but I think you're on the right track by asking for support, both at a peer and professional level!

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Re: Need some direction - November 19th 2013, 08:25 PM

Taking a break is not a failure. I would take a step back and figure out what you truly want. What is your passion? I was two semesters away from a BS in psych when I was 20 but I changed my mind and ended up spending the next 4 years working on a nursing degree, paramedic certificate, and fire certs because that is what I wanted.

I am a lot happier with the decisions I made.

Also, a career specialist? I have never heard of such a thing. You'd think more schools would hire someone like that to help figure out students earlier on.
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Re: Need some direction - November 21st 2013, 03:45 PM

Thanks for the replies (and apologies it's taken me so long to get back to this thread). I've never really found a specific passion, all I know is that I enjoy inherently creative tasks; it doesn't really seem to matter specifically what those tasks are. I enjoy creative writing, composing music, strategizing, developing opinions on political or philosophical issues, visual art or design, etc etc, and these are all things I'm good at. But where do I take that in terms of a career?

I don't really have a way of narrowing down one particular job-path to pursue, but assuming I did that, most creative-professional-type careers require a degree, which just isn't an option for me at the moment.

So at the moment it looks like my only option is to put in more hours at the café I work at (or a different entry-level job) until I either find an entry-level job which I'm interested in (seems unlikely), or can decide on a degree I want to do and afford to go back to uni :/
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Re: Need some direction - November 29th 2013, 12:49 PM

As a fellow international studies student, I'm pleased you directed yourself towards this degree. If you think it's boring and don't like it anymore, fair enough... However, try to do something that will engage your interest as it seems that your commitment issues revolve around your interest or lack thereof.

International studies is a degree that offers a wide variety of courses to study. Try picking a course that interests you.

Over the summers, I also tend to go volunteering abroad, either in Africa or Asia. You should try that too... it's a cheap way to start getting international experience. you'll start finding out that the jobs you'll be doing abroad will start to connect with whatever you're learning at university thus making school more relevant and interesting.

I've gone through a stage in life where I was literally too uninterested to do any work as well. It's all about finding relevance in the school work to what you want to do when you grow up. It's no coincidence that students find general introductory courses the most boring. If you can't relate to them, you'll be bored!

If you're unsure about which degree to pursue, think long and hard about which careers you're most interested in. Once you find a general field that sparks your interest, focus on picking the most appropriate degree.

Your problem right now is that you haven't been appropriately engaged to the material (this is partly your teachers' fault). Now that you're in university, it is your job to pick courses that suit you and engage you. Think of it like one large assignment - find your career/major!

PS. I recommend taking general introductory courses for the time being to see what interests you more. There are A LOT of students in university that don't know what they want to major in so you're not alone. Oppositely to what people in here are saying, taking yet another year off is something I wouldn't recommend. 4 Years is a lot of time off, and you want to finish your education at a fairly young age, not in your 30s.

Carpe Diem: Seize the Day/Moment. -Horace

Veni, Vidi, Vici: I came, I saw, I conquered -Julius Caesar
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Re: Need some direction - November 29th 2013, 02:55 PM

It may be a good idea to get into the work force for a bit until you really decide what you want to do. If you do get into the work field and want to continue your education, there are many great distance learning programs available.
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