Good Morning, Papa Bear,
I've recently graduated college. I'm the first in my family to do so, and I received top honors. I should feel happy, proud, and excited for the future, but instead I feel sad and empty. All of my friends have moved elsewhere, but I'm stuck in my hometown with my parents, working to save up money. I've been applying to jobs related to my degree, but I've only gotten ghosted.
Without grades, a degree, or a career path to work towards, I have no clue what to do next with my life. Everyone says 22 is young, but I still feel like I'm falling behind. I've no romantic relationship, no budding career, and no place of my own just yet.
How are people supposed to define their paths in life? How do I stop feeling like I'm stuck in some nebulous pit of stagnation?
Thank you, Papa Bear,
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Pardon my confusion, but you said you graduated college but you don't have a degree or grades? Could you clarify?
And, next question, what do you WANT to do with your life?
I'll await your response.
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I do have a degree--in biology. Just now that college is over, I don't have any clear overarching goals (like a degree, or a good GPA) to work towards, which makes me feel lost.
I'm not sure what I want to do with my life. I know it's cliche, but I guess above all I want to be happy. I'd like to cultivate a family I can love and feel loved by. My current family is good, but it is unaccepting of my sexuality and other aspects of my identity, so I never feel free to be authentically myself. I'm not sure what I want from a job--just that I don't feel (totally) miserable going to work each day. This might be a little unrealistic though, haha.
Thank you so much.
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There are two things going on here, I believe: 1) your career/schooling, and 2) your private life. When it comes to your goals in life, it sounds like you place having a family above a career. That's terrific. It's good to have priorities and to know what is important in your life. When it comes to careers, though, there are two kinds of jobs: 1) The kind of job you do to make money to pay bills but don't really care about that much, and 2) the kind of job that is your passion, your life, a part of who you are. When your work is something you love, as they say, you won't work a day in your life. It won't be "work" but, rather, a passion, a mission.
The field of biology can certainly be that as it can lead to all sorts of different careers from wildlife management to the medical professions to high-tech research to the profitable (and morally dicey) pharmaceutical industry. The thing is, with just a B.S. in biology, your options are limited to things such as lab tech or entry-level research biologist or, perhaps, work at a zoo or aquarium (not that the last one is bad; I tried to be a zookeeper once but my degree was in English so they picked a woman with a biology degree). If you sincerely wish to pursue some kind of career in biology, you really need to go to grad school or medical school. So, I would recommend that you continue to further your education. If financing is an issue, perhaps you can find a job at a company that will help pay for you to go to grad school or--another possibility--find work at a university, and then you can likely attend their programs cost-free because you are an employee. Pursuing your education would certainly set up a new goal for you and you would not feel like you were adrift as you do now.
Moving on to your personal life, I am sorry your family is not supportive of your identity. It sounds as if you live in a small town in Wisconsin. What I usually recommend for LGBTQIA writers to my column who live in podunk small towns with conservative parents is that they try and move to a larger city with a more welcoming community. Fortunately for you, cities like Madison and Milwaukee have large LGBTQIA communities where you are much more likely to find a love interest (as well as employers who aren't homophobic or transphobic). There are other cities, too, that aren't bad, including Eau Claire, Superior, and LaCrosse. In general, any city with a fairly sizeable university will lean toward a more liberal and open-minded perspective on people such as you and me. I would start searching for work in these larger areas, especially at colleges and universities that have research labs in the area of biology where you can explore the option I outlined above. Yes, there might be some cost issues, so I would also recommend trying to find a roommate situation--perhaps one of your friends who was wise enough to leave their hometown. If you can't find anything in Wisconsin, then widen your circle to other states until you find something. And don't be too proud to start at the bottom and work your way up. Hey, my first job was at a burger stand. You gotta start somewhere.
I hope this helps. If not, write me again!
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