(It was hard to think of a title) This isn't really a question about a direct career path, so I hope it's the most correct place to put it. It's more of a poll of opinion about the school system, my life, and how I begin learning what I want to learn. So it's a career question in some sense...I guess. If you have the time, I could really use some advice. Anyway, I'll just jump right in. (1st paragraph is somewhat of a rant, 2nd is the question, 3rd is me personally.) I'm deeply upset. I've actually become extremely depressed over the last year or so. Basically, like a lot of people, I can't stand the rigidity of the modern school system. I'm enthralled by many of the beautiful topics, ideas, and concepts covered in schools, but schools take them and twist them into something dreadful. Taking something as breathtaking as geometry, and turning it into work, w/o an explanation of the subject, its history, etc., is an inexcusable injustice. Their only concern is that the student can complete standard problems presented on tests, and put up with metric tons of pointless practice. It makes me sick. This is repeated in every course: history, foreign languages, English, sciences, etc. Their "work is the only thing that matters" policy is so imbued in me at this point, that I can't even casually read a book w/o scrutinizing how I'm doing it. I have trouble thinking of new, simpler ways of completing complex math problems, where I used to be much more proficient. I hate them for stifling my creativity. My only hope now is that b/c I am aware of this, I'll develop my own take (more so anyway) on maths, philosophy, physics, etc. as I explore them independently. In some sense, I feel like Einstein with my passion for knowledge and detest of schools. But nowadays, one can't just quit school and nonetheless have a successful career. Which wouldn't matter to me, except that I know at one point I'll need equipment, and labs, and a research fund to advance my knowledge, I want first-hand experience. I also don't want to have to work a menial job to support myself; I want my life's passion to be my "job". Now that my rant is over, let me actually ask my question. I'm interested in becoming a physicist/mathematician. I'm taking all required courses necessary to understand these fields, and will be attending college next year, but I want more of an understanding so that I may do my own independent studies. I just feel a bit lost, I'm not sure what to do but go to my library and read all I can about both subjects. So , I suppose my question is, does anyone have any advice on specific books to read or things I should do to become more capable of pursuing a fundamental understanding of the universe? Also, if someone could recommend any books to inspire such curious fervor, that would be helpful. I get discouraged quite easily and often need something reassuring to keep me going. Now, my more personal reason for writing this post at 2:30 a.m. Like I said, I'm rather depressed. I find daily life so endlessly dreary, and physics/math is something that can take me out of it. I can explore the universe in my mind and keep my sense of despair at bay. When I'm doing anything else, I can't help but shake a feeling that my life is meaningless. I need an understanding of the universe to give me perspective and a hope that there is something more. Over the years, I've been trying to find something to give me some purpose, I've naturally always drifted towards philosophy, but all that does is keep me running in circles. I want a formal, logical reason for everything. Like many, that is my goal, though there are certainly men far more capable of achieving this than I. Adding to my issues is a deep anxiety problem. My anxiety, I'm sure, is more genetic than anything, just somewhat influenced by outside events. No matter where I am, what I'm doing, I feel anxious; frightened, somewhat of a hypochondriac. Benzo's are out of the question. I've heard of their clouding effect, and that would be disastrous for me. If anyone has advice on this, it’d be much appreciated. Anyway, there is a short synopsis of where I'm at right now. I hope I've made it clear that I'm quite confused and lost, and a bit scared at this point. If you've actually taken the time to read this, thank you. It means a lot.