Psych Central

I’ve Let Us All Down

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

So, I don’t know where to begin… To sum up, I didn’t try hard enough in my last year of high school because I didn’t want to go into university since I didn’t know what I would do. I should have just sucked it up and tried my best. I am in a college right now and failed all my classes because I didn’t try and now am on probation. I just feel that I don’t have a goal to what I’m studying for. I’m unmotivated.

I do have a part time job at a great retail store. They sell great street brands and when I started working there, I felt honored to be part of the staff. I guess I was caught up in the glamour of it all. I soon got too comfortable working there, I didn’t see the point of school. I took a semester off and worked although I pretended to my parents I was still attending school.

So now, here I am. Still working at this retail store but now I’m tired of it. Although it was a good learning experience, I shouldn’t have gotten this job. Maybe I would have focused on school 100%. I don’t like working there anymore and one by one, some of the people that I’ve gotten attached to are quitting and moving forward in their lives.

Of course I feel happy for them but I do feel a bit jealous. I want to quit this job but it’s the summer. Would I go and find another job or stay. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I feel so lost and confused. But I’m so unmotivated to change anything around me. I feel like I’m constantly waiting because I’m not ready for it and end up becoming too late. I feel like a failure and have let parents and myself down. Help.

A: I don’t think you are unmotivated. And I don’t think you shouldn’t have gotten the job. I do think it would have been better if you’d been straight with your folks but that’s water under the bridge at this point. I think you weren’t ready for more school and didn’t know how to say so or felt that you didn’t really have a choice.

I’m sorry that high school students aren’t given more support for taking a year or two off between high school and college. Your story is all too common. Colleges are now focusing on “retention” because they lose so many students after the first year. Better to take a couple of years to determine what you are going to school for rather than just going to school. You will get far more for your time and your money if you have a direction.

There is no shame in taking a year or so to work, to travel, or to participate in a gap year program. You can find a list of alternatives in this article.

You’re right. The retail store was a good break and a positive learning experience. I don’t think you should quit a paying job for the summer. I do think you need to be more directed in what to do next. Learn from your mistakes and make time over the next few months to explore your options and to make a clear decision about your next year.

Don’t go to school only because you don’t know what else to do or because of what other people think. Instead, figure out how to try out various professions that interest you or immerse yourself in a different culture. Take a class or two, either for credit or not. (Did you know there are free online classes available in just about anything? See MIT’s online offerings. Or look into Coursera.) More experiences and more exploration will make it clear what kind of school you should go to and what you might want to pursue as a major.

You do owe your parents a bigtime apology. I suspect they are more upset that you lied to them than that you weren’t ready for college. Make amends as best you can and engage them in a discussion about a reasonable plan for the next year or two.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). I’ve Let Us All Down. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/06/04/ive-let-us-all-down/