I can't imagine my life getting any worse right now

…but the sad part is that it probably will get worse.

I’m 26, almost 27, and work as a fucking waiter. I have a degree in biomedical engineering from one of the top schools in the country, for fuck’s sake! They told me a degree from there would open doors for me the rest of my fucking life. They promised me a six-figure job before I was 30. They lied. They fucking lied straight to my face.

As if waiting tables wasn’t bad enough, I’m apparently not even any good at it. I make such a shitty amount of money that I’m forced to live with my God damn parents! I pay no rent, no utilities, barely anything for food, and yet I am still barely making ends meet with just the few bills I have.

Every fucking month there is a new problem with my car. I get one thing fixed, something else breaks. I get that fixed, five more things break. I keep sinking more and more money into this fucking lemon that I got fleeced with. I’d love to sell the piece of shit, but have you ever tried to sell a car that is a piece of crap? It’s hard to do! No one wants to buy a car that sounds like it has a huge hole in the exhaust (and probably does), has a steering wheel that is off-center, a check engine light that’s on, and four mismatched, cheap-ass tires!

I’m over 70 grand in debt from student loans and have nothing to show for it. I can’t get a job because my field practically requires a master’s, and I stand no chance at getting a master’s. I know, because I tried and failed miserably. Literally. I failed out of grad school because I was too damn stupid to understand the material.

I just don’t know what to do. Every fucking day it gets harder and harder to drag myself out of bed to go work I job I hate for not enough money. I was driving home tonight and more than once the thought occurred to me that I could just let go of the steering wheel and see what happens. At the very least I’d total my car and get a nice fat insurance check, right? When I finally did get home, I punched a telephone pole near my drive way half a dozen times. I don’t think I broke a knuckle, but it is pretty swollen.

And I’m sick to fucking death of people tell me “It’ll get better” or “thing will work out.” Well you know what? I’ve been hearing that for almost two god-damn years now and it HASN’T gotten better, things HAVEN’T worked out. They’ve gotten much worse, as a matter of fact.

I’m just at my wits end, and I’m out of options.

Wow, that sucks. I know one thing for sure - this is the worst economy I’ve ever seen. I know that finding and hanging onto a job, any job, is extremely difficult right now. I’m 41 and still in school, and am already concerned about what’s going to happen when I graduate. I have an associate’s in accounting, which is pretty worthless in my location. I feel your pain on the student loans, too.

If it’s any help at all, there are a lot of people feeling just how you do. I’m the youngest of five, and at one point I was the only one with a job. One brother got called back, one works under the table for less than minimum wage, and my other brother and sister have both been looking with absolutely no luck. My sister has been out of work for six months. She finally landed a position through a temp agency and lasted one day. They called her into the office before the end of the day and told her she just wasn’t catching on quickly enough.

Desperation, meet humiliation.

Please hang in there. Maybe people are giving crappy tips because they’re conserving money in any way possible. You strike me as being an intelligent person who is trying to survive in a bad economy. Just because grad school didn’t work out does NOT make you an idiot. You may not believe that right now, but it’s true.

Take care of that hand. Do you have another way to de-stress that will help you take your mind off of your frustrations?

Maybe you could get a job teaching English in a foreign country in Asia. It might do you good to live in a new and different place for a while, and get another perspective on life. I have several friends who did this and they all had positive experiences.


Have you considered joining the military?

But really, the job situation does really suck right now. I’m not far off your situation and I’m a good bit older. It’s scary.

I do not belong to any organized religion; but for what it’s worth, I will say a prayer for you. Please do not give up. You are a valuable wonderful person and things will get better.

I hear ya, pal. I’ve got your life, minus the job, plus an additional useless masters degree, and a loving wife and child to support.


I’ve been in your situation. I know how it feels. But think about it- two years are nothing. People have spent two years in prison camps or hiding in jungles or addicted to heroin and end up with happy successful lives. We all lose a few years to this or that. Now look at all the 40 year old waiters around you. THEY are probably way more screwed than you will ever be. Trust me, you aren’t going to be them.

Sucks to realize that going to college doesn’t mean you get a job, doesn’t it? Nobody ever tells you that. Good degree, bad degree, top school, bottom school- you still stand a pretty good chance of being left out in the cold. For a while, at least. I feel your pain.

And if you can’t make it in what you went to undergrad for, you gotta drop it. I was a film major. I quickly realized I didn’t have the tenacity, pretentiousness, money and ambition to make it in film. I mourned it and moved on. There are no shortage of dreams for you to dream. Choose another one.

So what to do?

You need to set some goals. What do you WANT to do with your life? Don’t think about what is easy, or what is possible. Don’t say “I just want to have a job.” Think about what you really want. What life would you choose if you could choose any one?

You are young. I’ll tell you what I do. You may be thinking “OMG I’m almost 30 and my life sucks!” Don’t think like that. If it gets you down, just pretend that you are 23 again. Bam! You just gave yourself a few extra years. I mean, if you walked around saying you were 23, I bet nobody would question it. So you might as well tell yourself that. Really, age means nothing. There is no place you “should” be in your life. And you’ve got decades before you start getting old enough that things stop being options. So don’t beat yourself up about age. Screw it. You are making your own path through life, not following some stupid time table.

Being young is great, because you can make drastic changes. Go back to what you were thinking of earlier- what do you WANT?

When I was going through that period in my life, I realized I wanted to live abroad. So I joined the Peace Corps and my life has never been the same. Three years ago I was working a barely above minimum wage job contemplating a life with no money and no future. Now I’m a college teacher in China, have spent two years in an African village, learned three new languages, visited all kinds of exotic places and have made friends who are now working all over the working interesting jobs. I’m applying for grad school to follow my new ambition of doing development work in Africa. All that- in just three years! Your life can get on track that quickly, too.

My advice- buy a copy of “What Color is your Parachute?” It’s cheesy, but it has some good advice.

Then, get out of town. That town is sucking your soul away. Do what it takes. Join something. Live on the streets. Whatever. But get out of there as soon as you can. Your just treading water right now. Any change will be good change.

I just want to point out that the whole “things will get better” dealie isn’t always refering to physical/material things. How the heck can I tell you your job or car will work out? I can’t even make that projection for myself.

What I mean is this: I lost my job last Thanksgiving. I became homeless in January. I did get a job in March, but couldn’t afford an apartment until July. And then in July my car got repoed, as the four months of unemployment wiped out my savings. At some point I had to stop waiting for “things to get better” to be happy. So I decided instead of beating myself up for living in a tent, I would be proud that I was going to any lengths to build myself a better life. Acceptance came slowly on that, but it came. Today I am fufilled by my life, and not much is actually different. It’s my state of mind. I was borrowing a friends car and it broke down. I live 20 minutes from where I work. Since I don’t have a car, I’m crashing at my parents and walking to work or bumming rides from my mom. I haven’t even been home in over a month. This week I have just enough cash scrapped together to buy a cheap car. And I tell ya, the effort that it’s taken just to get this far… I couldn’t be more pleased with myself.

So give yourself a pat on the back my friend, because this is what I take from your story:

You are intelligent enough to have a degree in biomedical engineering(smarty pants!).
You have a job (nice!) and can afford your bills.
Thank goodness for your parents who will put you up, rent free, for a bit.
You have a car that isnt great, but luckily you’ve been able to keep it running.

Be good to you.

Have you searched this site? First job on the list just requires a BS. I didn’t read all of them.

Anyway, good luck to you. I’ve got 2 brothers-in-law in their 50s who just lost their jobs - that’s a heck of a position to be in - one has a kid in college, the other has a high schooler. Fortunately both have working wives, but it is tough out there. How you deal with it will say a lot about you.

Yeah, I can relate. Science major in a pretty good school. After graduation, I was washing dishes in a country diner back in my hometown-du-jour and working in a convenience store hanging around waiting to get shot. After a few months of this paradise, I finally wised up and joined the military. Not that you should do this if you don’t really want to do it, but it’s how I got free.

This is what I’m doing right now in Korea. It sucks being away from my wife for a year, but the money is pretty good, and it’s a lot of fun. There’s also work in Japan and Korea. Hell, there’s work all over Asia for this sort of thing. Personally, if you’re not sure you want to join the military (and these days, if you’re not sure you want to join the military, you probably don’t want to join the military), I’d consider this as an option. No one leaves Asia exactly the same way they came in. You want a little adventure? A little change? Maybe some weirdness? Come on over and find out what it’s like to have your world kicked a bit off kilter. Whatever happens, it’s better than dying in a self-induced car wreck, am I right?

In the words of one of my favorite philosophers: “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”

In the same vein as ‘‘go to Asia/join the military’’ – have you considered the Peace Corps? In those two years you might discover a lot about passions you didn’t know you had. From what I understand you get $10k when you come home to adjust to life in the U.S. again. I have friends who did it, and if I wasn’t married I would do it in a heartbeat.

And yes, try to keep in mind that everyone is suffering right now. NRichards, I like your style. One of the most important things I ever learned was how to do what I could, with what I had, where I was, and just be happy with that.

Now look, OP, for real. Don’t even think about red-lining your car and then plowing it into a telephone mast. You might die, but - far worse - you might also live, but have your genitals torn away from your body when the jagged metal of the steering column buckles forward into the cabin of your car. The ignition system might also come through to send your testicles and penis flying to opposite ends of the street (unless you drive a Saab like me, which has the ignition cleverly placed between the front seats to avoid such an injury.) Think about it - you’ll be forced to walk the earth, with no whangus - constantly stirred in your loins by sexual desire, and utterly unable to address it in any satisfying way. This is a fate worse than death. Do not crash your car. I repeat - do not crash your car.

I was - to put it bluntly - born into wealth and privilege; or more accurately, into an extremely generous family. Because of this, I have never been in a position of genuine financial desperation, and never will be. This is not a boast but a lament, because my circumstances have definitely hindered my personal growth as an individual, and it makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed to have to say that I receive large allowances from my family and that I’m not truly financially independent. I am of course trying to “make my way in the world” and I aspire to attain, and even surpass, the level of success that my father has enjoyed. But at the back of my mind I have that knowledge that there’s a big safety net to fall back onto, and I can’t really say I have benefited from this.

Now throughout my life I have made a point of traveling in diverse circles and mixing with people who are on the fringes of normal society. This has taught me many things. One friend of mine, a bohemian type and outdoorsman, told me this: “whenever you start to worry about the economy, just remember that YOU aren’t part of that economy unless YOU choose to be in it. It is entirely possible to live in the woods, and sustain yourself through hunting, fishing or gardening. You can ‘bug out’ if you really want to - there is still limitless forest land in America and if one really, truly desires it, he can REMOVE himself from the economy and create his own goddamn economy.”

If I ever found myself truly desperate - if my financial safety net were to vanish, if I felt I had no direction in life and no hope of a career - I would seriously consider ‘bugging out’ and heading to the wilderness with a tent, a rifle, a fishing rod and some other things; you can live this way. Nothing is stopping you. Similarly nothing is preventing you from joining the Merchant Marines and finding a job aboard a ship as a merchant seaman - you could see the world and not have to worry about being sent to Iraq. You could take a job working on a refinery in Alaska, Texas, etc - hell, with a degree in bio-engineering, you could probably find some entry level work in geology or the every-growing field of alternative energy.

You could join the Peace Corps; you could go teach English in Japan or Korea (if nothing else, think about how easy it is for an American guy to female companionship - the legit kind - over there. My friends who went there were amazed at how popular with women they automatically became, due to their novelty as foreigners.) And unlike the schoolchildren in America, who are often willfully ignorant and sometimes even bring pistols to school, I’ve heard that the Asian students are eager to learn and enthusiastic to meet an American. Why not give it a shot?

I sometimes wish, truly wish, that all of the material attachments I have in my life would just vanish, because part of me wishes I was so desperate for direction in life that I would be compelled to seek out an adventure. Alas, right now in my life I feel too connected to my family, my hometown and my significant other to do such a thing. Insane as it sounds - and I’m sure it also sounds really patronizing - sometimes I wish I was desperate.

How attached are you to biomedical engineering? I got a bachelors in Radio/Television Broadcasting and I fucking loved it. I loved every minute of it and more than that I was really, really good at it. You know what I’m not good at? Living on $6.50 an hour while working 60 hour weeks in some tiny, forsaken town in the backwoods of somewhere for years so that I could get enough experience to climb the ladder. I had to sit down and decide what was more important, actually using my degree and being happy in my work life or earning enough money to be happy in my home life. I picked the second and ended up in the insurance industry which isn’t emotionally fulfilling like working in the media would have been but my job is full of awesome and pays me enough money to live in Manhattan with my awesome boyfriend and to spend a lot of time doing other awesome things. I go to the opera and the theater at least once a month. I met Spike Lee at a screening of his new movie the other day. My office sent me to the US Open with my boyfriend on Wednesday. Any time I start thinking about what I could have done in my field I just think about all the awesome things I get to do because of the choice I made and I don’t feel so bad anymore.

Another one who feels your pain checking in here. I’m 22, and at the beginning of this summer, was living with a boyfriend who hated me at a horrible school on track towards a teaching degree when I knew I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, teach. No money, no car, no parents, and no life. So know that you aren’t the only one who is scared and feeling like a failure.

Get a MLS - Master of Library Science. Librarians work in nice, peaceful, climate controlled environments. Library Science is gradually morphing into the more computer oriented field, Information Science. Consider specializing in medical or business related fields such as knowledge management. MLS/MIS degrees have a lot more applications than just public or school libraries. Plus many library programs have online classes so you can live at home while you’re doing it.

Maybe it won’t be your thing, but it’s well worth considering for anyone with a Bachelors.

There’s good advice in this thread. Read it. Understand it. Your frustration is real but your life is not insurmountable. Never, ever say it can’t get any worse. Trust me, it can get worse. You don’t have to look far to see someone in worse shape than you.

You’ll likely find a huge benefit to simply recognizing and taking control of those things that you can, grab your bootstraps, and move forward. You’re stuck now. You’re overwhelmed. But you’re not done. You have the intelligence and fortitude to make your mark in this world so get up and do it.


Another vote for working overseas for a while.

One of my nephews and his girlfriend are both teaching in Korea at the moment- their aim is to get work experience of ANY kind and to help pay back their student debts.

Another nephew went just to get out of the rut he was in and he’s now been in Korea for 4 years and has a wife and little girl. Just before he left for Korea, everyone in the family was worried about him, he seemed so dark and depressed.

Anyone who is English speaking and has any university degree can get a job in Korea. If you want info on this, I can give you one of my nephews’ email and you can get more details from him.

You need an immediate change in your life, bouv. I imagine that you can’t afford to continue your studies at the moment, so a year abroad would help pay off some of that debt, and it would build your confidence as well as giving you a breather to decide what you really want to do with in the coming years.

Hang in there!

bouv, I absolutely agree, being in your 20’s sucks. And parts of your life will get worse - your parents will get sick and die, and so will some of your friends.

OTOH, though, parts of your life will also get better. You’ll figure out what to do with yourself. You will. And it’ll probably involve lots of the bits and pieces that make up your life now - gaming, public service, science, writing. Your skills and talents are bigger than you know, even if they don’t fit neatly into a graduate degree (or anything else that you can imagine at the moment).

There’s this mistaken notion that we’re supposed to set out on our life’s path, with clear purpose and direction that never wavers. Not true.

For one thing, there are external obstacles beyond our control - like this crappy economy.

And for another, we have internal obstacles. “Musts” that just aren’t meant to be. There’s a lot of life that consists of letting go.
I was really lost when I was in my 20’s. One thing that helped me was a quote by Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who said:

“If I could be useful to another human being, even for a day, that would be a great thing. It would be greater than all the big thoughts I could have at the university”
Sometimes it’s better to try to be useful than to concern oneself with success. I know it works that way for me. As soon as I am for “success”, I lose.

If I were you, I’d go work overseas. That’s a great suggestion. And I think student loans are put on hold while you’re serving in the Peace Corps or Ameriserve, one of them.


Do you really feel there’s nothing useful you could do with what you’ve learned? You can probably find something related to medical technology, you just haven’t figured out what to look for (or where to look) yet.

Hell, the work I do (embedded systems design) didn’t even exist when I was in school.

So what kind of jobs have you been looking for? Have you been getting any interviews or interest from recruiters? Have you signed up with all the engineering temp agencies (Kelly Engineering, Manpower etc.?) and all the job boards?

Have you been tailoring your resume and cover letter specifically for each job? That’s especially important when you’re looking for any of a wide variety of jobs.

Not that I’m familiar with the medical industry in particular, but biomedical engineering might get you started as a medical equipment tech or lab tech or something. Someone has to manufacture, maintain and operate all that hospital equipment, regardless of the economy.

Dude, you’re only 26 years old; your adult life is really just starting. Five years from now, you’ll look back at this point in your life and laugh about it.

Life has a built in self-stabilizing function, it just takes a while to work sometimes.