If you’re a college or even a high school student, you have to have been locked away in a cage somewhere if you’ve never been given the advice to “follow your dreams” and/or “do what you love” or “find what you’re passionate about.”
But what if you have no dreams, you don’t really love any kind of work and you aren’t passionate about anything? That’s Natasha’s situation, and I bet it’s true for a lot of you, too.
I’m such a big fan of your site, so it’s not surprising that I would turn to you for advice. I am a 21 yr old recent college grad with a BA in English from a private liberal arts college in GA. I write to you because I fear my life has no purpose.
Wow, you drop the big bombs early! 🙂 That’s cool, we’ll get to it all, Keep reading, but briefly here: If you mean like a divine, sent-from-God-above person — you may be right. I’m not much of a religious guy myself, and I don’t think I have any particular divine “purpose” for being here. I think you’re just here on earth one time and you get to make out of it whatever you make out of it.
HOWEVER, it’s more likely that you mean you just haven’t found something that really grabs a hold of you, makes you wanna get out of bed every day, and drives you all day long. If that’s the case, then a) you’re exactly like at least 90% of all adults on earth, and 99% of 21-year-olds. 🙂 Anyhow, read on.
I don’t know if I am a damaged human being because of this-but I just don’t seem to have a true “passion” for anything. I like to do a lot of things but I have no burning passion that people seem to always talk about when they refer to pursuing a career.
You’re definitely not damaged because of this — you’re just normal. It’s a rare person who finds something they just have a burning desire to get up and do every day. People talk about finding your “passion” regarding work, and it’s true that you should try and that if you do find it, you’ll be happiest — but it sure as hell isn’t easy to find something like that, and that goes for anyone at any age.
You pretty much have to just keep waking up, finding a way to pay the bills that’s at least tolerable enough to not make you want to hang yourself at the end of each workday, have as much fun as you can (inside and outside of work) via the relationships you have with people….and then eventually, as time goes on, you end up hammering out your interests a little bit more and pointing yourself in the direction of something that does indeed grow into a passion.
What makes it worse is that I have 90k in student loans to pay back starting in December.
You’re right, that definitely makes it worse. 🙁 Remember, though, that you can jump onto a graduated or extended repayment plan at anytime, which can stretch your repayment period out as long as 30 years, which will bring your monthly payments down considerably. You’ll also pay more back over the long run, but as I told a student earlier this week — that may be the only thing that makes the payments doable at this early stage in your career. If you’ve got something like a $900/month payment on the 10-year plan, that simply may not be feasible for you with an entry-level job; cutting it in half, even if it means extending the life of your loan, may be a simple necessity.
Now I have had tons of internships in areas ranging from banking, law, asset management, hr and community development, to television production. It seems the only one that I have stuck to consistently is tv production. I have a year’s worth of experience at 3 different companies, two of which are internationally recognized media giants. I also have made a 30 min documentary thats locally acknowledged and some other short films. I am currently unemployed but I have a 2nd interview with one of the media giants I previously interned for and I most likely will get a position there because of my long standing relationship with the company as well as the great reviews my old bosses there give me.
That’s great! I was an English major and all I had for job prospects was a $14,000 reporting job in rural Missouri watching corn grow.
I’ll be honest though… I am so freaked out about my student loans and quality of life if I continue upon this television path.
Again, reference the payment-plan switching above. It can drastically lower your monthly payment, and that can make a lower-paying career more doable. It won’t completely unburden you of our freaked-outedness, but it will help.
I am used to a certain style of living (i know i sound snobby…but its the truth!). I feel like unless I make it as some big time tv producer/executive or something….my salary will cap out at around 60k. Which won’t cut it for me. I come from a lower middle class family and I know my family expects me to make more than they do, even I expect it.
Well, you’ll definitely have to become less accustomed to that style of living, for sure, at least in the short run — especially if it was financed with student loans. 🙂 I don’t know exactly what you spend your money on, so I couldn’t make any specific suggestions in that regard on how to keep your satisfaction high without spending as much money. Yeah, on the production side of TV, you’ll have to climb the ladder to make more than that.
Also, I wouldn’t mind going to film school to really cement that education and open more possibilities, but I live with my boyfriend in GA and I don’t want to leave him to go to school in CA or NY (the only places I would consider).
I don’t recommend that, to be honest with you. It’s expensive as hell (especially in CA and NY), you’ll rack up even more hellacious student loans, which will put you somewhere around $200k in debt — and you’ll still be looking at entry-level positions. (See Kathryn’s film school story).
I also am planning on taking the LSAT in October and applying to law schools in GA. A career as a lawyer would open the possibility to making more money, not necessarily guarantee it.
Well, even if you were just moderately successful in an urban center, you should be making a lot more than $60k after a few years. Remember, though, that there are hellacious student loans involved in law school as well. I know you said the schools were relatively cheap (in a separate email to me privately), but we both know student loan money, even with the best of intentions, sometimes gets used on extracurricular, standard-of-living stuff instead of just tuition and books. 🙂 Just keep that in mind.
But I know if I work hard I can possibly snag a job that will pay more. I have researched the law profession thoroughly and had an internship with a judge and have observed them at work, so I know what I am getting into. I feel that I have the skills that would make me a good lawyer. I just don’t have a passion for anything…thats the problem.
Well, in general, my advice would be to slow down on law school (although taking the LSAT is fine) if you’re not SURE that you want to be a lawyer — and you definitely do NOT seem to be sure. It’s just a long and expensive proposition to go to law school, and there are many, many lawyers, and many of them hate their lives. 🙂 I’d say this first — before jumping in, intern at a law firm, rather than with a judge.
With a judge, you’ve only seen lawyers during those fleeting moments where they have to really be on point; the real and giant majority of their time is spent in their offices — sometimes putting in 70-hour weeks doing research, paperwork and grunt work and trial prep (those are the early years for junior lawyers, for sure). I don’t want you to think I’m down on the legal profession totally, because I’m not (I love every one of my lawyers!) — just saying that there’s a reason that some of them make big bucks, and usually it’s because they have to do a LOT of mind-numbing work for a LOT of years. 🙂
And that’s cool, again, if lawyering is something you’re REALLY into — but if it’s not, and if you’re sorta on the fence about it, I’d always recommend against jumping on the law school train, because once you’re on it, you feel like you’ve got to ride it out, even if you discover later that it’s not for you.
I guess since I actually kept doing tv related things for over a yr means I like it best…but I don’t even know. At this point I have resigned myself to picking professions that work with my skill set (reading, writing, customer service, creating, editing analyzing, researching etc) and these two both do. The only thing that really worries me is pay and ability to pay back my student loans and still live a a quality life. (quality life=not living paychec k to paycheck)
Well, you’re way too young to “resign” yourself to anything. Truth is, if I had to lay money on it, ten years from now you’ll probably be doing something totally different from anything you’ve mentioned in this email. That’s just the way shit happens. Keep yourself as free to float around occupationally as possible, and just relax and discover things naturally as they present themselves to you. (This will happen to you anyway, whether you embrace it or not. 🙂
I know this is probably way over your head.
Ha, you wish! 🙂 I hope this has helped to some degree. Keep me up on what you decide to do and check in here any old time you like. 🙂
That’s my advice for the day. But what do you all think? Let us know in the comments below!