Saturday, October 1, 2011

22 and Lost

A 22 year old writes to Penelope Trunk asking for advice. I am assuming that the writer is male, though there is nothing in the letter that designates gender. Unless the letter has been edited, it is, at the least, well written.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

I am turning 22 and I have no idea what to do. I am living at home with my parents and four younger siblings. I am unemployed and have only worked a few odd jobs since high school. I have taken a few courses at my local university but do not have a degree, let alone any idea what to get a degree in. I was never able to decide if there was any point in going back to school without a real focus.

I also have no social life, and if I do actually have any communication skills, they’re overshadowed by my social anxiety. I don’t know what I’m interested in or what my skills are. I feel so ashamed of what I’ve become that I avoid contact with people in case they ask me what I do or what my plans are. I can’t discuss anything with my parents and often pretend to be working on things or I go to the library so they think I’m busy.

This has gone on far too long and I’m desperate to do something about it, but I don’t know where to start. Could you give me advice on what to do?

Penelope Trunk responds by recommending that he go back to school.

Yet, the letter makes clear that this young man has no real interest in studying and has no real inclination toward doing so.

Therefore, her advice is off the mark. Most of the commenters on her site agree. They do much better than she when they suggest: join the military.

Some prefer the Air Force; others recommend the Marines.

If this young man qualifies, the military would be a perfect solution to his problems. Of course, it comports its own risks and makes severe demands on someone who is becoming a chronic slacker.

But how do you think that you overcome your descent into slackerdom except by taking up challenges.

In this case, the commenters are right and Trunk is wrong.

I was most impressed by the commenter who recommended:

You can act like a man.

Not a man?

Act like a man anyway.

Mark that down as great advice.

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