Dear Annie: I’m a young professional, and I have nothing left. After eight months of searching for a job in my field, I moved to a small town 12 hours away from family and friends to take a graduate-friendly position. Two months in, the firm let me go, saying there wasn’t enough work for me. To make matters worse, my successful friends back home are telling me about the jobs they love and the exotic vacations they’re taking.
Annie, I feel like such an idiot. I have always been the good son who worked hard, volunteered, went to college, got good grades, finished his degree and put in long hours at an after-school job. I sacrificed so much and put off all the things I wanted to do so I could be the “perfect candidate” who gets the great job, the nice car and the house. Now I’m homesick, on government assistance and no closer to finding work. I’m convinced it’s all been for nothing.
I’m starting to resent my friends, even though it’s not their fault. For the first time in my life, I have no idea where I’ll end up. My anger is so stifling that I can’t breathe. I decided to backpack across Europe when the unemployment checks run out, but that made my father so nervous that he offered me my old room back.
What should I do? Move back in with my parents and be the hardworking loser in a loser job? Or should I follow my dreams for a while and do something wonderful before I start again? – Joe Not-So-Cool
Dear Joe: Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you can do all the right things but still struggle, while others seem to skate by. But it sounds as if you could use a break, and backpacking across Europe can be an opportunity not to be missed. So go ahead, but understand that when you return, you will still have to find a job, and your father’s offer may no longer be available. Use the experience for personal growth and learning, and come back refreshed and re-energized.