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At a loss/existential crisis?

  1. Sep 6, 2015 #1
    Ok, so this may be a cliched problem for a young person to have but I do need help with it

    I'm from the UK. I failed the equivalent of high school and spent the next several years in my bedroom on the computer for several hours a day until the age of 21, then I finally got into university by resitting exams and all of that.

    I started the first year of a physics degree last year. I decided it wasn't for me. This month I am starting a degree in artificial intelligence with no plans further than that, maybe some vague ideas about taking my study further and spending my entire twenties trying to make it in academia.

    The problem is that I'm not completely sure about this. Because I've spent so much time alone and in one small space I don't like the idea of being stuck in one location and would like a location independent job (that could be completely unrelated to my degree) where I could move to wherever I wanted for however long I wanted. I've considered freelance illustration but if I spend the next few years getting my art skills to a professional level as well as undertake a degree I will have no free time whatsoever and lose more of my youth.

    I am basically panicking about making the most of whatever youth I have left, of not getting stuck in one location or wasting any more time in a job or career path that doesn't make the most of the years I have left.

    I don't really know what to do, but I have to start preparing for whatever I want to do after graduation right now.

    It would be nice to dedicate my life to research, but I could regret that path because I would be anchored down and my research may not go anywhere interesting and I would feel like "Oh, I could have gotten more out of life"

    I'm not really sure what to do

    May I have some general guidance?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Take stock of what you have now, what you like and what you dont like.

    You cant decide on a career until you know what you want to do.

    As an example, perhaps traveling to some country and teaching English is something you'd like or becoming an international school teacher.

    Another route is working for an NGO. It could be a six month to one year assignment that give you some insight on yourself and from there you can branch out to other areas.

    I know programming is always a good skill to know and perhapw in your travels you could develop it more then come back get a degree and get a career.
  4. Sep 6, 2015 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Why is that even up for consideration? Nothing else that you said indicates that you would either enjoy or excel at academia.
  5. Sep 7, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
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    Education Advisor

    I agree with what's been said in that It seems to me that a more immediate priority for you should be to get a solid, successful first year of university under your belt, before you make any grand plans for a future in academia. I don't know how things work in the UK, but if it's possible, why not enroll in something that's a little more broad like a general science program? Based on what you like there, and where you find success, you can narrow down the focus later.

    Life is not a race. Lots of people take a few years to figure out what they really want to do. Some never reach that "ah ha" moment at all, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy the ride.
  6. Sep 7, 2015 #5
    I've already successfully completed the first year of a physics degree at one of the top ten physics departments in the country, which isn't much to shout about but I think I've done alright for myself in that respect. Before the decline in my mental health as a teenager I did extremely well at school, I reckon I've got a shot at some sort of career in academia.

    Over here there are no general science programs you have to pick a specific course, and I have, artificial intelligence, I'm due to start in a couple of weeks at a new university.

    There is a chance that instead of enjoying the ride I will just feel like I've wasted more time.
  7. Sep 7, 2015 #6
    Well, I can see how you got that impression but so far I've done quite alright for myself academically, as for enjoying it, well so far I've enjoyed my studies which I can only interpret as a good sign.
  8. Sep 7, 2015 #7
    Hmm, no those don't sound like things I'd want to do, and really I've wasted quite a lot of time already.
  9. Sep 7, 2015 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    What you are saying here doesn't match up at all with what you said in the OP. Realistically, I don't think that any advice you get here will be able to help given such contradictory information.

    If I were to provide such advice anyway, I would suggest getting out of the classroom and out of your bedroom and getting a real job for a while. Work anything you can, earn money, live on your own.
  10. Sep 7, 2015 #9
    If you aren't willing to put an effort then you won't amount to anything and then really - going to college is a waste of time.

    That's it. You will at least earn money and have a time for more soul searching.
  11. Sep 7, 2015 #10
    Really? I don't think I said that I didn't enjoy my studies or that I was currently failing anywhere in the OP. Nor did I say that I initially failed due to not being capable enough. I did say that returned to studying, and that I had changed my mind about physics. But really it's my fault for not being specific enough.

    I did very well this year academically, and before my mental health issues as a teenager I did very well in school too, failure was due to not showing up to school and being failed out of courses and out of school entirely.

    As for getting a job, I've worked as a minimum wage cleaner and as a camgirl, I've learned all that you can about humanity from those two positions and wasting anymore time in those kinds of jobs is unlikely to stop me panicking about wasting my time.

    But I am grateful for your help. :)
  12. Sep 7, 2015 #11
    I know, but whether the effort and sacrifice is worth it is what I'm not sure about.
  13. Sep 7, 2015 #12


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    No one can tell you definitively whether the hard work and sacrifice will be worth it in the end, unfortunately.

    It works out for some, certainly.

    Maybe you could expand on why you think this AI program is a good fit where physics was not?
  14. Sep 7, 2015 #13


    Staff: Mentor

    If that is the primary factor then I don't think that anyone who is unaware of the details of your specific illness will be able to offer any worthwhile advice. You should be asking this advice from people who know you well and understand the change in your health.
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