Advice From the Trenches

Quarter Life Crisis: The rug was pulled from beneath this recent grad. Now what?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I am in my last year of college and will soon have to figure out a career. I know that I have some big decisions to make. I am trying to be optimistic, but everything in my life sucks! My mother just died and this means I am losing my home. I can’t support myself yet, so I have to go live with my dad in the meantime. My mother left him because he was totally unsupportive and she found out he was seeing someone else at work! Now he has a new wife, who is less than happy to have me there.

It seems like everything I depended on has been pulled out from underneath me like the proverbial rug. My parents’ marriage was a failure, now all that’s left is Dad and a bimbo. I cannot get motivated to get out there and forge a life and career for myself. Everything fails in the end anyway. What’s the point?

Blue Bonnie 

Dr. B says: Sorry for your losses. Life can be awful – but it is also filled with opportunity and potential. Humans are creatures made up of stories and now is the time to write your own. Your mom wouldn’t want you to crawl under a rock and hide for the rest of your life. She would want you to take a risk and maybe learn to fly.   

Other people are not responsible for your happiness, and you are not responsible for theirs. In fact, the more you try to make someone else happy the angrier they often get at you for doing so. 

Your happiness is your responsibility – don’t go looking for someone else to depend on for that. You need to depend on your own merits.  Life on this planet is never going to be easy, and the forces of nature are trying to eradicate us at every moment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what you do have, enjoy excellent distractions, and find meaning in your life. But all of that is up to you, and no one else.  As Tom Hopkins said: “Being miserable is a habit. Being happy is a habit. The choice is yours.”

C says: I’m trying to be sympathetic, Bonnie, but you are bitching about free accommodations. Your dad and stepmother weren’t expecting this either; they were trying to start a new life. And however justified you think you are, resenting them is not going to make you feel any better about yourself.

I do understand that it is painful for you to lose your mom – and maybe your parent’s marriage failed, but don’t mix that up with your own life and career choices. One really has nothing to do with the other. Right now you are mixing it all up in your head and you’re not going to be able to launch yourself onto a successful career path if you can’t focus and take aim.

Do you have a friend you can visit, a zoo you can volunteer at, or a job out among people who are enjoying the open summer air? Do you have someone you trust and talk to? Now is the time to enlist some outside help for perspective.

I say this in all kindness, Bonnie: Stop feeling sorry for yourself. This is no more than the trial that every child faces when first walking into adulthood. This is your Rite of Passage. Try not to screw it up.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at