My boyfriend just graduated from college last Spring and is taking some time off. Right now he's taking community college classes and deciding what direction he wants to go with his life (grad school, career, etc). His parents are more than fine with supporting him — he's worked really hard, and deserves a break — so he can avoid jumping into something he hates. Unfortunately, he doesn't see it that way. He feels lazy and wants to get a job to occupy his time, but all of the jobs that seem interesting don't respond to him (it's a tough job market right now).
I try to tell him that he should take this time to pursue stuff he loves and that something amazing will come eventually, but there's only so much I can say without sounding like a broken record. I've also tried to help him find jobs (he does freelance website design, so I've gotten him a few clients) but once again, there's only so much that I can do. He's down a lot and I feel down when I can't cheer him up. What can I do?
— Cheering Him Up Chelsea
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Dear Cheering Him Up Chelsea,
The time between graduation and before you jump into the professional world is extremely confusing and scary. In school there's a very clear path to follow, but once you reach the end, the sudden lack of direction can leave a person feeling inadequate and lost. But eventually most people find their way, especially if they're capable and hardworking.
For now, it certainly sounds like you're doing everything you can to support him even though I'm sure this is hard on you too. If I were you, I'd recommend that he start applying for internships in any of the fields he might be interested in. Not only are they a great way to discover if a particular job might be for him without the commitment of an actual paying job, but they'll keep him busy and help him build a resume, which could perk up his mood quite a bit. For someone with parents willing and able to support them, internships are a great way to make the jump from student to employee.
As far as grappling with his bleak mood in the meantime, keep doing what you're doing. Though the practical stuff is important, don't be afraid to remind him of how much he matters to you as a boyfriend, career aspirations aside. With that said, a jolt of tough love never hurt anyone. Sometimes people need a reminder that things could be worse, and trust me, in his case, they certainly can. And for sanity's sake, you both need to remember this situation is only temporary. Remind yourself of that every day if you have to and help him do the same.