Confused about what I want to do with my life

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am a 18 year old male who is very confused about what I want to do with my life. I honestly have no idea what I want to do nor a small hint of what I want to do. I recently dropped out of my first year of college because I really did not like what i was doing and now want to have a gap year to try to find what I want to do. Just today i found out what my dad really thinks of me. Which really hurt me. He believes I’m going no where in my life and is disappointed in what I am turning into. I have little motivation and I somehow can not get motivated no matter how i try it doesn’t work for me. With my father we never really connected but i never knew he felt that way. i dont know it just really hurts when my father says he’s disappointed in what I am. I also am very scared of my future and i just want to know what is right for me and i cant find it. I would love to have advise on how to deal with these situations. Mostly on making a better relationship with my father and on what to do with my future.

I thank you in advance

A: Thank you for writing. It’s possible that part of what is going on between you and your dad is generational. When he was 18, he probably didn’t feel he had the choice to be floundering. He just had to work. It’s hard for him to understand that you are more typical of your age group than not. It’s an unusual 18-year-old these days who is certain about what they want to do with their life.

The other issue that stands between you is that your dad is worried about you. He may not express it in the best way but I suspect he just wants to know that you’re going to be okay. It’s an occupational hazard for parents.

My suggestion is this: Do something. Almost anything. Any job you take will help you figure out what you do and don’t want to do with your life. You may find elements in the job that feel right and you may not. But you will get more information. Then try something else. As you gain experience with different options, it will start to become clear where your interests and talents lie. And don’t tell me you’re not motivated. You don’t have to be. All you have to do is get started. Sitting in your confusion isn’t going to give you any new information. Trying some things out will.

Once you get a job, let your dad know that you are as concerned as he is and that you are taking steps to figure it out. Tell him that his support in the project means a great deal to you. Invite him to talk with you about what you learn about each job. Once he sees you actively working on taking care of yourself, he’ll be more able to be supportive.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Confused about what I want to do with my life. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/19/confused-about-what-i-want-to-do-with-my-life/