Don’t Know What To Do With My Life

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi, I am a 25y.o. male that is suffering internal turmoil resulting from not being able to decide on a career path.

I graduated with a bachelor of science degree and minor in art two years ago. I was never settled on a career choice in undergrad. It changed in this order: orthopedic surgeon, chiropractor, physician assistant, medical illustrator, physical therapist. I was also encouraged by my art instructors to go on in art and get my MFA. I was accepted into a top doctorate program in physical therapy, even though I wasn’t sure that it was for me but not knowing what to do, I accepted. A few months before starting graduate school I started writing a book.

For the first month or two I was a diligent student, also enrolling in a continuing ed art class and rising early to work on my book. However, I often would spend many hours painting after class as a stress relief and trying to perfect my skills.

As the days went by I knew that I didn’t want to work for the rest of my life as a physical therapist. I enjoyed the learning, but after an extended internship I knew that I wouldn’t be happy in that sort of environment. I am an introspective learner and deep thinker, and usually test as an INFP on the myers-briggs-but also fit the INTP and INTJ descriptions.

After I dropped out of graduate school, I did finish my book. For the next several months I tried to assess what I wanted to do: writer, painter, medical doctor, and other careers, or if I had made the wrong decision. I have been reading as much as I can, on all subjects: classic lit, philosophy, science, biographies.

It seems that I want to do something different every day across, and each new idea is very different from the previous one. Usually it’s whatever I’m reading about at the time but not necessarily, but then within a couple days I’ll wake up and want to do something different. This has been causing me a lot of stress, because I want to find something, and stick with it, because I want to be successful and make a huge contribution to society, and understand that this is the way to do that.
It also seems that my awareness level changes. On the days that I can simply live in the present day and place, I can function the best in society. However, on some days (usually corresponds to the days that I read) I seem to remove my consciousness from my present place and seem to contemplate life on a worldly level, and on a universal level. When I do this I get lost and can not function in life and its daily trivialities. I cannot express my thoughts with words, and most people seem baffled by my lack of ability to articulate when at my job, I usually try to offset this by being overly friendly. This usually happens the more I read, because it causes me to think more. Thus, let’s say I function best in society when I don’t think.

I really do want to make a big contribution to society and to be happy. I’ve been considering psychology, as I am into personality, scientific research, writing, art, computer science. Like I said I am an introspective thinker, thus need lots of time alone to think, but also need some form of community or support.

A. Individuals are attracted to left or right brain dominant activities or careers. The left side of the brain is associated with language and logic. The right brain is thought to be our more creative side. Painting is considered a right brain activity. Individuals tend to have a dominant side. We refer to this as being left brain or right brain dominant. While an individual may be dominant in left brain or right brain thinking, the split is not typically 100 percent one side and 0 percent the other. It may be a 51/49 percent split, 60/40, 65/35, and so on. I suspect that you may be strong in both and would do well in a variety of left brain or right brain dominant careers.

In the American culture, it is emphasized that you have to choose a career that you love. In other cultures around the world, individuals choose careers which would earn them a good living. They are not choosing careers that they necessarily hate but other cultures tend to be more practical with their career choices. Pragmatism is a wise and realistic goal.

What is important is to be practical with your career choice and to realize that you can still engage in activities you enjoy even if they are not the focus of your career. For instance, many writers write for the love of writing and not as their primary career. Most painters do not paint for a living. They do something else for a career and paint in their free time. You do not have to limit yourself to one type of activity, right brain or left brain. You can and should continue do both.

Because you’re having a difficult time narrowing your career choices, I would recommend seeing a therapist. A therapist can help you analyze the pros and cons of various career choices. In addition, the therapist can provide an objective opinion. He or she could also help to analyze your thinking process and determine if it is logical and linear. The find help tab at the top this page can help you locate a therapist. I wish you well. Good luck in all of your future endeavors.

Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Dec 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Don’t Know What To Do With My Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/03/dont-know-what-to-do-with-my-life/