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HothisCold's avatar

How do you proceed after a major, jarring change in your life?

Asked by HothisCold (105points) September 14th, 2010

My mother died right after I graduated from college. I had a job shortly after that, but it didn’t last long. Now, it’s been almost a year and my life can go in so many directions, it’s unsettling. Currently, however, it’s going nowhere.

It’s like there’s been an explosion. I’m floating above the debris. It’s everywhere, in pieces. I’m sure I can rebuild. Salvage what I can from the old, add new where new is needed.

But I hesitate. Because although I’ve found the glue, the mortar, the binding force to put and keep the pieces together, I don’t know exactly what it is I need to build. So I hesitate, kicking at pieces here or there.

If I’m not careful, I might build something I hate. But if I do nothing, all I’ll have is a blasted pile of rubble.

I don’t know how to proceed. Do I make a master plan, blue prints and all? Or do I just start picking up pieces and see what happens?

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11 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Have you talked to a therapist? Sometimes I think it’s helpful to have someone to share your thoughts with and get unbiased feedback.
Sorry for your loss. It is daunting to find yourself out in the world on your own under any circumstances, but feeling like you’re literally all alone when facing a crucial time period in your life must be very difficult.

Artistree's avatar

I’d go with the latter. It’s all we can ever do really. It is unsettling but also exciting. Good luck.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I did it one day at a time. By breaking it down to small segments like that, I believe it was more managable. By concentrating on daily activities and routine, I was able to maintain my sanity and accomplish things.

You have been through a difficult period. You have suffered terrible loss. It’s good that you recognize this and that you need to somehow move on. I believe that’s one of the healthy steps in recovering.

Where you should go is a difficult question, and that’s why I recommend looking at the here and now. Pay attention to the daily things, and the big things will work themselves out.

iamthemob's avatar

Step by step…if you think too big, it may seem insurmountable.

And on a personal note, I hope it works out. And on a lighter personal note, your fluther handle is one of the most clever ones I’ve seen to date. (Did I just come out as a GIANT Star Wars AND word nerd?)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

One step at a time and paying careful attention to your gut instinct. You’re very sensitive right now and that can work in your favor even if you’re in pain.

Something I do from time to time that helps me when stuff gets absolutely crazy, I print out a monthly calendar of blank boxes/dates and try to fill in something good/great that happened that day and I also try to actively plan or participate in something to write in on that day. It’s a little thing but feels good to look at every few days and tell myself I’m doing well even if it doesn’t feel like well yet. Good luck and go easy on yourself.

Cruiser's avatar

You pack a “bag” sort of speak of all the things you have learned in life and what your mom taught you and take that with you where ever you go and take solace that you will have many opportunities to use what you have to make your own way in life. You are really quite young to take on the burden of trying to solve all your life problems at this time and IMO I would focus on the here and the now. Take it one day at a time. Save a little money if you can and spend a little on a few of life’s simple pleasures. There is a reason for everything and it will become clear when it is time until then count your blessings and again take it one day at a time.

marinelife's avatar

You should talk to a career counselor and find out what you are suited to do and what you would like to do.

Then go about getting a job in that field.

Meanwhile, think about your personal life. Do you have a relationship that you are happy with?

Are you spending your time doing things you want to to do and find valuable?

Consider volunteering. It can give you perspective on your own life.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Career counseling or a life coach is a great idea. Figuring out where you really want to go, how your current “pieces” support that goal and what can move you in that direction may require baby steps and calculated moves. Figuring what sort of network you need may be a good early step. Build the relationships to help move you in the right direction.

wundayatta's avatar

Most of my life, I have had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know anything about colleges, so I just applied to the ones I had heard about—Ivies and such. This other college wrote me and asked me to apply. I had never heard of it. But I decided to apply to it as my safe school. I didn’t get into any of the other schools, and I ended up going to my “safe” school, which turned out to be a well-respected school. What did I know?

When I graduated from college, I think I had this idea that a job would just fall in my lap. It didn’t. So I flailed around for a while at various low-paying jobs that had to do with my political interests. I learned a lot doing these jobs—and not things I ever expected to learn.

I decided to go to grad school, practically on a whim. I applied to the best grad school in the nation in this field, as well as one other university. This time I got in. But I still had little clue about what grad school was about. I didn’t take it all that seriously. I mean, I did well enough in terms of grades, but I didn’t do any networking, and I didn’t get hooked up with the group I should have gotten hooked up with because I never knew they existed. I’d done no homework.

So I graduated without a job again, and just wandered to Philadelphia because my girlfriend wanted to go there. I eventually got a job kind of in my field by random networking. And the rest of my career has been much the same. Pretty random.

Along the way I discovered I was infertile and I was certifiably crazy. I dealt with it as best I could. I never really had any goals because I believed that if I had goals, I wouldn’t achieve them, so it was just better to wander through life.

I’m not sure this is the best way to live, but it is a way to live. It’s not exactly fire fighting, because I do have general goals—children, happiness, travel, education, teaching, making friends, being loved. But for me, life is like one of those super-waves. They come out of a perfect storm of some kind and there I am, riding that wave because I have no other choice.

We’ve got rats. The pest control person says we need to fill up the holes in the basement. So that’s what we’re doing—using the money that was supposed to paint the kitchen or put insulation in the attic. We’ll only do a corner of the basement. To do the whole thing, which we should, costs 24 grand. Yikes! We’re going to get more estimates.

We have general directions we want to go in (my wife and I). Where we actually go and how we actually get there is an utter mystery to me. I’m pretty clueless. I’d love to be a writer (i.e., make a living writing), but maybe that will happen and maybe it won’t. I’ll keep on doing writing like I do here, just because it’s practice in case anything should ever come my way.

Like I say, this may not be the best way to live. Still, I think one could do worse. I have very vague, generalized ideas about what I want to do. I wanted to be a writer in college, and I managed to get one or two poems published, I’m still working on it without actually working on it, if that makes any sense.

Maybe you can deal with your problems as they come at you. You might have ideas about what you want, but maybe aren’t attached to them so much it’ll really bother you if you don’t achieve them. Or maybe you develop a detailed plan with interim steps and goals. What matters is that you do what makes you comfortable, not what someone else thinks you should do. It’s your life to do what you will with. There are no rules. You do what you decide to do in response to the circumstances you find yourself in.

sandalman's avatar

I would go with a hybrid approach that combines the two choices that you’ve mentioned. You should certainly get some kind of direction. A plan would be good, but it doesn’t have to be defined down to the specifics. Just pick up the pieces, and keep thinking about what you want to do next with your life. Focus on what you care about most with regard to your values and beliefs, and something will emerge sooner or later.

judochop's avatar

Stop thinking of this as a hurdle and start thinking of it as pure awesome. You get to start from the bottom and make everything new again. Your mothers death is natural order. Your parents should go before you and so on. Pick your head up. Things when only get betterwhen you tell them to.

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