I have more than I ever imagined at this point in my life — I'm a student at a prestigious university, where I'm captain of a varsity sport, I volunteer with children on the weekends, I have the best boyfriend, and my relationships with my parents are better than ever, but I'm terribly unhappy.
When I was younger, my family didn't have a lot of money, which put stress on my parents and me. The need for a comfortable, stable income has always been my motivation to work hard. Currently, I am headed that way, but this competitive school has turned me off. I no longer see myself working a nine-to-five job; instead I think I would be much happier in a less stressful environment.
In the beginning, it was just fantasies about leaving school, but in the past year I've become so depressed about this situation that it's beginning to affect every area of my life. I want to sleep all day, I can feel myself being curt with my parents and boyfriend, and my grades plummeted last semester. I want to leave school, but I feel like so many people would be disappointed in me. Please help me!
—Under Pressure Paige
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Dear Under Pressure Paige,
I urge you not to let outside influences and a perfectly normal fear of the future affect your happiness and your drive to graduate. You’re worrying so much about a future that’s not even here yet that you’re missing out on the good things in your life right now.
There is nothing that says you must work a corporate nine-to-five job just because you graduated from a prestigious school. In fact, most people don’t even end up in the industry for which they majored. Furthermore there are plenty of decent-paying jobs that don’t require competition and debilitating levels of stress. But it’s all about having the options available to you — so don’t close any doors prematurely.
For now, focus on your emotional well-being. If you need to drop to a part-time schedule then do so — it’s much easier to pull back a little then leave and try to come back. Focus on the short term; don’t worry about next semester or even next month, just do the very best that you can do for this week. Open up to your parents and your boyfriend, and let them know that you need support while you work through this period of uncertainty — you will get through it. Good luck.