First off I am new to the forums of this site, and I am not looking for your pity but for your advice. I am 19 and I work in a fast food restaurant and go to community college where I will graduate with my associates degree in general studies this fall. I have no idea where I want to go with my life after this, I don't know what I want to do as a career and do not know where my interests are. I also am slowly losing all of my friends I went to high school with because they are moving off to college and are getting into heavy drinking and I am not about that as my dad was a strong alcoholic. I also have never had a meaningful relationship with a girl and even worse I am overweight and starting to become depressed in general. My family doesn't cook, we eat out every single night. I can never get anything productive done either. When I have free time all I do is lay around in my room isolated and look at the internet and refresh social networking websites and play my Xbox. I feel like I keep digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole and I can't find a way out. Can anyone lift me up? I am beginning to feel as if I'm destined for failure, thanks to those who take the time to read this.

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"Can anyone lift me up?": Yes, YOU can. You're on a slow drift nowhere and your asking for directions. One up on most in that particular circumstance. About direction: you need to find your interest. What is it that you like to do (that works in a career)? Do you like math, science, english, writing, how-stuff-works, what? Can you see yourself designing cars or fixing cars? Can you see yourself designing aircraft (or space craft) or fixing the same? What is your 'major' in CC? Does it translate into a career field? Do you like discussions and logical arguments? Medicine? That is the first thing you need to figure out.

Second thing: GET THE HELL OF THAT COUCH!!!! Get a bike and go for rides, hit the gym, take martial arts, go hiking, canoeing/kayaking.

Third thing: LEARN TO COOK!!! That is a life-skill that will come in handy once you move out of your parents house, which I hope will be soon.

Fourth thing: GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!! Go to church, take part, join groups, talk to people. If you want to have interesting conversations, become interesting; learn interesting things meet interesting people.

If you keep doing exactly what you've been doing you'll always have exactly what you have. Only insane people expect different outcomes from doing the same thing over and over.

I was trying think of how I was going to say what I wanted to say but this guy pretty much hit the nail on the head. If I was you I would decide what I want out of my life what is my main goal that I want to achieve in life. All these steps are how I'm taking control of my life. Very well said sir!

Thanks for the advice Rick. I'll try everything you listed.

I think Rick summed it up about as well as it can be, and you'd be wise to follow his advice.  It's a good thing you don't want pity since I doubt anyone on this site will have any for you.  Understanding perhaps, but not pity, and certainly not from me.  It took me several years to find my way out of what I now term "The Lost Years", but my first step was moving out on my own with a friend.  Once I was away from them, they began treating me like an adult, and I found the courage to go for a degree in the field I found myself most interested in.  As someone with a major disability to overcome, it was not easy, but I did it, and now find myself happily married and making excellent food for my lovely wife, family, and neighbors.  And by the way, if you ever want to have a discussion out of the public view about learning to cook, I'm here; just ask.  Getting out there and working out will help as Rick said.  You're still very young, so don't beat yourself up too much if you're not sure what you want out of life yet.  But, you do need to sit down and give some serious thought to what your interests are and finding a career in life.  As for the girls; again, that will come.  Don't rush it.  As you move forward in your life and start setting goals and accomplishing them, you will gain the confidence and self-respect that the girls will notice.  Working out and slimming down won't hurt there either.  If you do all this, you will get where you're trying to go, but give it time to happen.

Thanks for the encouraging words man. The hardest part is going to be the weight. All I eat is fast food and while I'm at college throughout the day all that is available is a greasy grill inside of the school.

My wife and I are trying hard to have a baby, and one of the things I have been trying to do this past year is to build up a collection of fast and easy dishes for when the kid finally does show up.  I hate using highly-processed foods, so tthis is not an easy goal.  But, it can be done.  You're welcome to send me a private message on the site if you like and we can discuss it there so this thread you started doesn't wander too far off topic.

My "lost years'" numbered 14.  I joined the military right out of HS and was active duty for 14 years (the lost ones).  In the military I worked in technical fields just going with the flow doing what needed to be done but not much more, not advancing very far, and not really caring.  I'm not sure what it was that lit a fire under my ass but I got out and started college; got my undergrad and Masters; started out on one career field and ended up in a completely different field which I like more.  So, in short, it's not a destination but a journey, you may start in one direction and end up in going 180 out from that start.

First off, welcome to the site. There's a lot of great guys on here who can help you out and help you to become a better man, and more importantly, help you find out what being a man means to you. I don't think anyone here would pity you as much as they would want to help you fix what your problems are. First and foremost, congratulations on graduating. Also, its respectable you held down a job while you were in school. Most people struggle with just keeping up with school work.

So, you're getting ready to graduate, you have a pretty standard job for a college student, and you don't know what direction your want to steer your life. Welcome to the world of everyone looking to join the working world. Most people don't work in their degree fields, and most people don't know what they want to do with their lives. That's not a huge problem. You may spend years trying different jobs until you find one that you genuinely enjoy. I only suggest that, no matter what you do, give it 110%. No matter what, give it your all and don't burn any bridges in the process. There are a lot of things to explore, and a lot of room for trial and error. A lot of the time, people start in one position, get exposure to another part of a company they may not have ever heard about, then they end up working there. You can use your career as a learning process. There are companies that are taking google's approach, allowing employees to "try" other jobs part of the year, to see if it really interests them. Companies are realizing that happy employees are productive employees.

Another side effect of becoming an adult is that you see your social circle greatly decline. I really only talk to three people I went to high school with, and of that, I only am regularly in contact with two of them. So, I can relate to the feeling of "oh man, I am losing everyone." But, as you move around to different places in your life, you will meet new people and form new friendships. They won't necessarily be the same as a high school friend, but friendships happen in time. It does get harder as you get older, but the bonds you do form seem to grow stronger.

A lot of my friends got into drinking. My Dad never drank. Not since I was born. He always told me, "I never drank because I didn't want something to happen to you and me not be able to get you to a hospital or safety." I found that very respectable and for some reason, I don't really drink much. I think that sense of responsibility set in with me. So even now, I will sometimes have a beer if I'm out with friends, but I never get wasted. There's no sense in that. Also, alcoholism is a sickness, but don't look at your father and think you'll end up the same. You've seen the worst, but don't shun the good. Again, drinking is an "adult" thing because it requires some level of responsibility to handle it properly.

You struggle with relationships -- every single guy does at some point. Even the Casanova may wonder why he can't seem to find the one. Or you'll meet people who date someone and then immediately know they will end up marrying him/her. Don't let your weight discourage you. Anytime you base your life off a "I am _________" followed by something negative, you are falling into what someone's predefined image of you is. That's not the way to go. I remember Margaret Cho (a comedienne) said it in a way that kinda makes sense, "And it's going to be really hard to find messages of self-love and support anywhere. [...] It's all about how you have to look a certain way or else you're worthless. You know when you look in the mirror and you think 'oh, I'm so fat, I'm so old, I'm so ugly', don't you know, that's not your authentic self? But that is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising, magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself so that you will take your hard earned money and spend it at the mall on some turn-around creme that doesn't turn around shit. When you don't have self-esteem you will hesitate before you do anything in your life. You will hesitate to go for the job you really wanna go for, you will hesitate to ask for a raise, you will hesitate to call yourself an American, you will hesitate to report a rape, you will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote, you will hesitate to dream. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue".

People can say what they want about Cho as a performer, but her quote really does make sense. You are not defined by your weight. Not if you don't choose to be. "It's not what you're called, it's what you answer to" (Madea). Don't get yourself down over it. If you genuinely are feeling depressed, talk to a doctor, get some help. If you're feeling down (not depressed), try doing small things. Go for a walk. Acknowledge the sad thought, but then, dismiss it by addressing in your head how you can fix it. I know this post is full of quotes, but, there's a prayer, the serenity prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." The hard part is just figuring out what you can and can't change, and moving on. When you truly start loving yourself, you can truly start loving other people. Girls are out there (somewhere--they are kinda hard to find). I know it will be increasingly difficult since the "bar scene" isn't really your thing (not mine either), but there will be opportunities. Just keep your eyes open and it'll happen.

So you're family doesn't cook. There's the same thought of responsibility...have you ever asked them if they'd let you cook for them? Start with one meal a week? Try to have a "family dinner"? I mean, that's a great starting point and an opportunity for some family time.

Your remarks about isolation and social networks are the exact reason I don't have a facebook account. I think that's a huge problem for this generation. Zero social skills. I saw a group of girls that were shopping, they sat down on a bench and were not talking to each other, but their faces were shoved in their phones because they were busy texting people. Stupid. If I'm out with people, I avoid my phone as much as possible. That's where you start. You probably see your social circle shrinking beacuse you are comparing it to people you "know" on facebook (or whatever). That's not the way to do it! Unlike what parents tell you as a little kid, now that you're an adult, it's ok to talk to starngers. If you want something productive (and easy) learn a new (useful) fact everyday. That's an easy goal. I think if you started setting goals for yourself (small goals add up to big goals, remember that), you can actually see yourself making progress and working towards something. The trick is, you have to have a big goal in mind, but a bunch of small ones that work up to the big goal. Those give you a sense of accomplishment and are easier targets to hit, and then before long, you'll end up with your big goal already met!

You won't be a failure unless you want to be. We are not defined by our backgrounds. Life is what you make of it. It's not always easy, it's not always fun, but you can really accomplish anything if you put your heart and soul into it.

Hank,

 

Let me be the first to tell you that your college-bound friends aren't really any better off than you.  College is too expensive these days.  I'm out of college now but a few years ago I met a guy who was getting a degree in film studies from a [nameless] private university in the Boston, Mass area.  When he graduated, he was about $175,000 in debt for a diploma that says he watched movies for 4 years.  Plenty of people and career paths don't require a degree.  Bill Gates is a college-dropout billionaire and so was Steve Jobs.

 

On a personal note, I'm getting a master's degree in economics and I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with myself.  Life is always a process of discernment.

 

My best advice is to go for a walk in the woods or at a lake or the ocean, if any of these venues are nearby.  Find a place to sit down, turn off your cell phone, put your watch in your pocket and just listen to nature.  For a period not less than half an hour.  It'll improve your physical & mental health and let you eliminate distractions.   Eventually, you need to improve your diet and go running or bicycling.  But a walk is an easy start.

 

Put this in to your routine and you'll find a direction.  If you like videogames, maybe you can study to be a graphic designer, or a computer programmer.  If you decide you really like being outside, consider working at an outdoor products store.  And if you like cooking, but not fast food, consider culinary school and cook at a gourmet restaurant. 

 

If you think you're in a hole, you have three options: (1) mope and be depressed (2) get yourself out, or (3) keep digging and you'll reach the other side of the earth.

 

Well, Hank, you've already taken the first two steps--so congratulations.  You've recognized you have a problem (that was step one), and you've asked for help (step two).  This puts you at least two steps ahead of the majority of the other direction-less guys who are around your age.

Let's start by looking at what you've done right.  First of all, you are about to graduate with your AA. That means you've already got two years of college knocked out---not bad for a 19-year old. Secondly, you say you work in fast food--translation: you work!  So even while you're taking classes, you're doing something to earn money.  I think you've just advanced two more steps beyond the majority of the other direction-less guys your age---you're now four steps ahead of the curve.

Now listen---it's OKAY for a 19-year old to still be undecided about his future career.  And while you could probably be making better use of your free time than video games and social web sites, again, it's about par for the course for a guy your age.  So quit beating yourself up for being a normal 19-year old--you're actually ahead of the game in a few areas.  

There is a saying, "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got".  You've already defined the things you're dissatisfied with in yourself---so now decide what you're going to do about them.  Sounds like it's time for a trip to the counseling office at your college for a Career Exploration and Planning assessment.  They'll have a wealth of information for you, as well as assessments you can take that will help you find career goals that match your personality, preferences, and aptitudes.  They may even have a class you can take--my junior college did, and taking that class was one of the smartest decisions I made.

You mentioned being overweight--I was, too--I lost ninety pounds on Weight Watchers, and I'm now a Weight Watchers leader---can't recommend the program highly enough.  Whatever you do, though, don't just bemoan your situation--man up and change it.  Guys often try to lose weight by going to the gym---trust me, that alone won't work.  You're going to have to change the way you eat, but that doesn't mean you can't have foods you want--it just means learning moderation in those areas and learning how to manage your appetite and eating habits in other areas.

As far as spending too much time on the Internet goes, why not make a game out of it?  Set a reward for yourself for not exceeding a reasonable limit of time on the Internet---and couple that with a hard and fast rule about not letting yourself get on until certain conditions have been met if you've spent too much time on line on a given day and it has interfered with your responsibilities.  For example, if you were supposed to do an assignment, but you blew the time on the Internet, then the next day, you don't let yourself get on until that work gets done.

It's good that you're assessing yourself and making changes--you will be doing that for the rest of your life.  We always need to be looking at where we're at, where we're going, and making course corrections as needed--so again, you're ahead of the curve in that you're learning to do that at an early age, and you are to be commended for it.

Maintain a good attitude, it is completely under your control. Go work out, not only will it improve your image but it releases endorphin's and serotonin which biochemically reduce depression. You are only 19, you have plenty of time to begin working on a hobby outside of video games. Start boxing or martial arts become a black belt in several years. Learn to dance. If you lack confidence understand the uselessness of your anxiety and learn to be amused by it as you conjure up the courage to overcome it. Your current situation puts you in a prime position for your character to grow. I can't cook well either but that's what the crock pot is for. It is a gift from God Himself. Which reminds me, pray. Just try it.

Associates degree in general studies is a not impressive degree level in nothing much. Fast food is a job in nothing much. Xbox and social web sites are time eaters that actually produce nothing much. Okay, so start from there. You do nothing much, have nothing much, and are directed to nothing much. On the one hand, that means you have nothing to stand on. On the other hand, that means you have NO PREDETERMINED PATH. It's called "freedom to choose". Of course, freedom to choose that is never exercised becomes an active choice of nothing, which is not what you want. Fortunately, you also have dissatisfaction. Discontent is one of the most positive things a man can have, if his life is not much to begin with. The worst thing you can be is a man who has and is nothing much and be satisfied with that.

What you have to do is get up and get out. Do (legal) things you have never done before. Let them be ridiculously high-brow, silly and low-brow, everything. You are not required to like any of it. Find something that fits.

Warning: At first, it may look like everything you try is the one perfect fit. This is actually your mind responding to novelty. So, if something looks like it piques your interest enough, try it again, but do not exclude other things while doing that. Eventually, you will settle down to something.

You are 19. I have children who are older than you. I have re-invented myself no less than four times in my life and am going to do so at least one more time, possibly twice.

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