Dear Carolyn: I am a 19-year-old college student who is home for the summer. At my father’s insistence, I found a menial summer job. I had been offered a summer research position in my field of study, but my parents did not allow me to take it because it is located halfway across the country.
While I am upset about the internship, I am absolutely miserable at the job I ended up taking. I’m on my feet the whole time, and my shifts are given to me only a few days in advance, leaving me with no time to plan fun activities during the summer.
Where do I go from here? I have tried to find a new job, but nobody seems to be hiring. My dad knows how miserable I am, but when I alerted him that I was thinking of quitting, he screamed at me to the point where I just curled up in my room and cried for an entire day. – Miserable in the Midwest
If your father isn’t a bully, then he sure is acting like one.
And to resolve a situation with someone who is/acts like a bully, your best course isn’t to zoom in on the situation itself, but instead to zoom out far enough to address the full scope of the problem.
Translation: The solution isn’t to fix the summer job, it’s to position yourself beyond your father’s control.
If I were to advise “Pay your own tuition and support yourself,” it would likely seem impossible, so I’ll break the elephant into small bites. Put in a call to your school’s financial aid office. Talk to a mentor in your field if you have one, and find one if you don’t, to see if there’s scholarship money for talented students; that internship suggests you fit that description. Use those unplanned days off to figure out if any combination of scholarships, loans and a job during the school year can free you to make your own choices. These concrete actions alone have the power to alleviate a lot of your current frustration.