Hi all,


I’m brand new to the forum, but I’ve been reading AOM since around 2009.  Please be gentle!


I’m 23, live and work in the UK and struggle day to day with knowing and being myself.  I have to contend with difficult employers and a highly strung home environment every day, so the stress is pretty constant.  The small mercies I am afforded, in addition to my privileged western comforts, are a car and time to myself in the gym 3 or 4 times a week. 


I live at home with my parents, so I don’t have many overheads, I work in insurance and have done for the past 4 years (almost).  In short, insurance bores the life out of me.  I’ve always been creative and analytical and feel like a career in advertising would suit me best, but I don’t meet the entry requirements.

My salary is poor and although I’m not money motivated, there isn’t really any saving grace to my career in insurance.


Therefore, I beseech you all to offer some guidance and wisdom to motivate me to take the next step.  I really want to take a risk and study for a degree in psychology.  I can do it as a distance course, while still working and the British government will foot the bill until I am earning over £21,000 a year (approx. $35,149.00).  The only problem with this is that by the time I finish I will be 26, almost 27.  I know this is still young, but I’m becoming increasingly conscious of time as I get older.  I haven’t had a significant female in my life for 3 years, my friendship group has shrunk (to preserve my sanity) and I’ve grown loathsome of social events.  I’m not depressed, but I’m not happy.  I’ve exchanged beer, bars and BS, in favour of fitness, good food and limited connections, and although I feel better health wise, I have this gaping void in my life. 


My father (with whom I am quite close) suggests getting a higher paid insurance job in London and pursuing my own interests outside of work.  I can understand where he’s coming from, but I don’t know if I can stand much more of this line of work.  Do I suck it up and take his advice?


Ideally, I would like to raise a family in the States, but I don’t think I currently meet the criteria to be permitted to live and work there.

The psychology degree would help me to better understand myself and others and, according to literature I’ve read, would make for a more attractive entry level degree for advertising, marketing and health care careers. 


So much for that abundance of time they promised us as kids!  I don’t know whether to take the risk, or work towards a higher paid insurance job in London – doing something I have absolute apathy for just for the remuneration; or forget about money, women and a family until I’m almost 30! 


“Typically, if you’re starting from scratch, an undergraduate degree will take six or seven years to complete.”

[Working full-time and studying part-time] If I dedicate 32-36 hours a week to this (plausible, I’ve done the maths) I could do it in 3 - 4 years.


Sorry to bombard you with so many personal pronouns.


Has anybody else done something similar to this?  How did it turn out?



Thanks in advance,




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You're not risk averse, you're paralyzed and indecisive.  Truthfully, there's risk in whatever you decide, and risk in indecision ... i.e the risk of looking-up five years from now and being in exactly the same place.


So, choose your risk.  But, make a decision and get moving.


To dispel a couple of problems with your analysis ... undergraduate degrees don't take 6 or 7 years unless you're drunk for the first three or four, or unless you're going half-time.  And, you need not hold off on marriage and family until you're done with school.  There's no reason not to get started on several options at once and see what pans out.



JB, I prefer your analysis to mine!

I'm definitely indecisive. I definitely don't want to run the risk of stagnating for any period of time. At the moment, the only growth I'm experiencing is in my own time.

The excerpt about it taking 6 or 7 years is taken from an Open University website, suggesting I study part-time. I will need to continue to work full-time whilst I study, but I intend to work through it as quick as possible.

Thanks again!
Hi Shane,

I think it's very much the same here. The only people I know who are pursuing something definitive are those that are following their parent's plan.

In regards to your closing statement; I don't really want to suck it up, but going it alone seems really daunting!

"I’ve always been creative and analytical and feel like a career in advertising would suit me best, but I don’t meet the entry requirements."


Start working on meeting the requirements TODAY.  A good self-improvement book that might help is “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy.  It might help you to get your bearings.  Go to your local library and check it out today.


"I can do it as a distance course, while still working and the British government will foot the bill until I am earning over £21,000 a year (approx. $35,149.00).  The only problem with this is that by the time I finish I will be 26, almost 27."


How old will you be if you just sit on your ass and do nothing?


"Ideally, I would like to raise a family in the States, but I don’t think I currently meet the criteria to be permitted to live and work there."


If you achieve the above perhaps you’ll meet the criteria.  But, have you ever considered Canada?  There are some great Canadian cities, especially in BC.  Check out Vancouver and Victoria—absolutely beautiful.

Hi Richard,

Fantastic advice, thank you for the recommendation. I'm going to order it on Amazon now!

It's incredible how something simple can change your mindset about something.
This post has taken me from, "Should I go for it, or is it taking on too much?" to "Screw it! Let's go for it!" - So, many thanks for your input guys!

And Canada would definitely be an option, I regularly check out the beautiful spots on Google Images, whilst plotting my escape from this armpit just outside the East End of London.

Some thoughts, without conclusions:

* Whatever you do for a living, you'll be doing it 8 hours a day.  It better not be something you hate.  Best of all is if you're passionate about it.

* Wherever you go, you take yourself along... so if you're blah in the UK, you'll probably be blah in the US.

* A college career center can advise you on what majors work for what jobs.  As Shane said, if you're in the humanities, it's mix 'n match.

Agree with JB and Shane.  You've thrown yourself something of a "Pity Party."  To start, you absolutely must "Suck it up" enough to get the heck out of that mind set and start taking some action.  Speaking from an American perspective, I see a couple of things implicit in your post.

First, you've apparently taken no action to get off square one.  In the US, it is not uncommon for someone to go back to school and re-orient their career choice after a few years in a trade or profession.  The government education funding scheme you described is wholly to your advantage.

While not familiar with the British educational system, in the US, you don't necessarily need a bachelor's degree for many fields.  I note this because if you enjoy the more manual than cerebral work (a mechanical trade v. financial analysis for example), a trade school may be more advantageous.

Second, what do you do in insurance?  What is it about the job that bores you...and that looks like part of your problem, that you're bored.  Perhaps you could explore getting into another facet of the business?

Third, you're only in your early 20's.  Quit writing like a 58 year old burnout.

From personal experience, I can say that you've more than enough time to explore multiple career paths.  Speaking as someone whose education was as a generalist, you may work in several different fields before finding your niche.  

Fourth, a last thing to remember.  Every job ALWAYS includes a big chunk of boring, repetitious, often uninspiring work that must be done.


Thank you, very valid points. Just clarify, by "going it alone," I meant without the security of an employer, or someone to rely on if things go left. That being said; I don't want to play by the rules that conventional business' outline for their employees, anyway.

Native Son...very sobering! And the bit about the 58 year old burnout made me laugh!
The reason really, is that I'm dedicating time already to insurance exams that I was hoping would make me a more attractive prospect for assistant underwriting positions.
However, it's something I would be pursuing purely for money and not for any enjoyment or job satisfaction.

Think it's time to bite the bullet and set a date to start my undergrad degree!
Thanks for your help guys!
I didn't explain that very well.

I'll just get psychology my degree, which is something that interests me and is apparently a favourable degree for entry-level advertising roles and pursue that.

Apologies for the "pity party." A lot of jumbled up thoughts ran out at once. Have a nice day/evening!

I was in a very similar situation 5-6 years ago. I quit a job as industrial electrician when i was 22, went back to school to qualify for a degree, moved out a few months after quitting the job (with way to little money) and iam about to finish my law degree in a few months. Iam 27 now. 

Looking back, that had a huge impact on my life. Iam living in a different city now, with a different circle of friends, a different career ahead and a whole bunch of experiences that made me grow as a person and changed me in a good way. I shat my pants a couple of times, had some failures and setbacks during the past few years but i havent regretted it once.

Here are some things that i learned the hard way during that time. Go for a degree that rouses you interest. Not suggesting to study the history of the east asian sunflower but going for a degree that pays well just because it pays well wont play out well.

Make sure you have enough time to actually enjoy live. Outside of semester breaks i have a completly free weekend once or twice every two months. No matter if you study full time and work part time or work part time and study full time, it can be very stressful you need to have some fun too.

What you will remember isnt the class you attended it is the one you skive with your classmates to go to the park to sit in the sun talking, drinking laughing, flirting and idling.

I just wanted to update this post, just to express my gratitude for the advice I received and what I have done with it.

I have found, and am due to start, a new job. My current employment ends on 2nd May and I start at the new place on the 6th. It's a nice pay increase and a much more attractive title.

Moreover, I enroll on my Bachelor's degree in Psychology on 24th April, to start September.
It's a lot to take on, but I'm feeling refreshed and excited about the new position I find myself in - and it's all thanks to you guys :D!

The pay increase will fund my hobbies and interests - and the degree will fulfill a dream of mine.

Thanks again!


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