I don’t know what to do with my life

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  • Effi
    June 2, 2023 at 9:50 am #1120640

    I (19f) have always been interested in languages and that’s also what I studied in high school (in my country there’s different kinds of high schools and I went to one that focused on languages), so I thought it’d be easier if I continued to study languages in university, but now I don’t think I made the right choice.
    I think my passion for languages is slowly going away and I’m scared because I don’t have any other interests, the thing is that I have been in a bad place for most of my teen years and I never really cared about my future or thought about what to do with my life, now I think I’m better but I still don’t know what to do.
    Since I finished high school I’ve felt like I’m lost, like the world is moving but I am stuck and watching everyone move on except me. Every time I hear my friends talk about their future plans I always feel so anxious and a bit envious of how they got their lives figured out.
    I have always been considered “the smart one” in the family and I have so much pressure on and I don’t want to disappoint anyone, I don’t want to give up but at the same time I don’t know how to keep going.
    I remember my teacher in high school told us to study languages if we didn’t know what to do in the future, so we’d have more time to think about it and that’s also why I chose that, but every time someone asks me what I’m going to do after I never know how to answer because I don’t know what I want to do. What if I don’t find anything? How do I find something that interests me?
    I’m sorry if you found it confusing it was hard to express what I feel, I hope I found the right words.

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    June 2, 2023 at 10:16 am #1120641

    Does your university have a career center? If so, you can speak to a career counselor there. You’re far from the first 19-year-old to question the path they are on! I also think, at least where I live (US), that for some areas of study, there’s a disconnect between university and career. Accounting majors, for instance, become accountants, whereas other majors — English, history, psychology, etc. — don’t have the same kind of defined path. A career counselor can help you understand where your degree can take you, perhaps what kind of higher degree you could pursue, or what other options are out there altogether if you want to completely change paths.

    My best general career advice is to try to find the intersection of what you are good at, what you like enough, and what pays you enough to live comfortably. I don’t think you need to love what you do and it’s okay if you aren’t passionate about it, but you hopefully won’t hate it.

    I do know one person who studied language and linguistics. She has a BA, MA, and is currently finishing a PhD. Her jobs have been research- and community-based. The last time I saw her was 2019 and her job had her traveling a ton to study and map dying languages. She’s a friend of a friend and while I don’t know her too well, she seems content.

    June 2, 2023 at 12:41 pm #1120645

    Studying a subject and working in that subject, or in a related field which benefits from your field of study, are very different things. Fields of study are very broad; when you are in the work world, you take a smallish slice of that field which appeals to you and build upon it yourself. I suggest that you seek summer jobs in your own field or in an area which needs your language skills. That will give you a taste of what languages majors do for a living. It is hard to gain this knowledge at university, because school is its own universe — it teaches the breadth of what has traditionally been taught in a subject, and if you follow to the Ph. D. end point, you are following a route tailored to becoming a professor in that field (not that the doctorate won’t open many doors for you, but the content of the program is aimed at creating knew would-be professors, despite the lack of such jobs in many fields).

    My field was engineering. The languages majors I met were employed as translators (for meetings and for texts). Most I encountered were engaged in international finance and business. The skill with many languages was essential, but business/finance/economics course/degree or ad hoc practical international business experience was also mandatory. You would need a second major to go this route. You would also need to enjoy interacting with a wide variety of people from many societies.

    June 2, 2023 at 12:44 pm #1120646

    I forgot, a great source of information on what graduates in your field actually do in the world of work can be gleaned from alums of your university who graduated with your major. Your department chairperson or a favorite professor should be able to put you in touch with some of them. Smaller departments don’t want to lose potential majors, so the chairperson should be very willing to assist you.

    June 5, 2023 at 8:38 am #1120664

    I think going to speak to your school counselor is a great idea. I always thought your life’s career had to be your one great passion, but I don’t think that’s true.
    I honestly wish I’d gone to school for something I was really good at, and went on a career path of what I was good at vs. what I was passionate about. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to keep going with languages if that’s what you excel at? I have no idea.

    I don’t know. It’s a hard choice and it feels like your whole future hinges on it. It doesn’t. It shouldn’t. A lot of people I know don’t even work in the field they have degrees in. I would reach out to your teachers, family, maybe people in careers you might be able to see yourself in. It’s hard to know what you want at 19. You are not unusual, and you don’t have to have it all figured out right now.

    I do wish you luck.

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I don’t know what to do with my life

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