Hard-stuck at 23

Hi everyone! I’d like to start by saying that it’s so cool to find a community based on ADHD awareness and treatment. I’m 23, currently undiagnosed, but have had reasons all my life to believe that I show some strong ADHD symptoms. Getting things done and bringing myself to do what I know in my heart and mind is the right thing to do is still tricky. I tend to get lost on one tangent or branch of life and then can’t find my way back to the roots.

More recently I made a move to a new city in a new state I’ve never lived in before with the intention of pursuing higher education. I’ve always been fascinated by Psychology, as well as helping people in whatever way I can, so when I graduated with my Associates after some general-ed courses in my home-state and came here, I went right into that.

It only took one semester for me to realize that maybe I didn’t have it all quite as figured out as I’d thought. My first indicator should’ve been that after spending 2 months prior to my move actively researching for, applying, and following up on job opportunities, nothing was coming my way. I could blame the job market in this new town, myself, or other factors, but the fact of the matter was that 2 months into the move and new school and paying for my own rent, I was already running dry on funds.

In a need for quick compensation so as to not fall flat on my face in the first couple months of my “big adult decision,” I took the first job that called me back and gave me a chance for sustainable employment: a full-time night job stocking shelves at a home-improvement store. This was clearly not ideal, and would mean that I’d be working from 9pm to 5am five nights a week, specifically school-nights. I was taken aback by this turn of events, but was determined and was going to make this work.

I spent the rest of that semester, (which still wasn’t even halfway over) going to work at night, taking a nap, going to classes, taking another nap, and going back into work the next evening. It was, as anyone could imagine, utter chaos, and I very quickly began to realize that I really didn’t know crap about the real world. My mom lives two states away; she’s great, helpful and loving, but can only do so much from where she’s at. My father is closer, but much more removed from my life, and is seemingly not nearly as willing to be a parent now that I’ve ‘grown up.’ I was and still am painfully and utterly on my own.

When that first semester of pursuing my Bachelor’s came to an end, I was still alive, and more than that, I passed with almost all A’s! I knew I could do this, even with how crazy it all was, I just had to want it enough. Unfortunately, student loan offerings don’t really care how much you want it; after finishing one semester and planning financially for the second, I came to a dreadful realization.

The student loans I was taking out would only cover the one semester I’d already completed for that year for how much I had to pay to go to school out-of-state. Basically, I was screwed the whole time and didn’t even know it until the second term came around. I was distraught, (still working that same night job because I hadn’t had the time or energy between it and school to apply for anything else, andI still had to pay rent) and was now living in a new city far from any home I’d ever had for seemingly no reason other than to work a job I didn’t even really like.

I still think about school, and what it would mean to go back and complete my degree. (I still live literally a block from campus, so it’s hard to not think about.) The thing is, I don’t really know what I would do with it. I never did; I was simply following my hunch! I found one subject that interested me, that I thought I might be good at, and came to a random place where I had few friends and no family just so that I could owe someone $5,500 to study it. The questionable decisions didn’t start when I took the night job, they started long before. I just didn’t know that until now.

So now we are here: it’s been a year and a half, since the original move. I’m still in the same apartment, still paying off the incredulous amount of loans I procured from ONE semester of out-of-state tuition (that gave me nothing to show for it but these crazy payments each month), but I’m no longer attending school or working that night job. The latter is a huge and extremely recent decision; it took me a year and a half of stocking shelves at this home-improvement store in the dead of night for no reason other than to make rent, to realize that I wasn’t going to find alternative work, or something that would actually bring me joy, so long as I was already knee-deep in my current bullcrap. There was no drive in me left to seek a different/better job because every bit of effort I had to give went straight to that job.

After counting up my savings and expenses for the next six months (a math routine I performed several times over before making the final decision, just to be safe) and realizing that after a year and a half of working full time, I’d saved up far more than I had been spending, and would be able to pay for all of my needs out of pocket for the rest of the year, I knew it was time to make another ‘big’ decision. I had to, or I knew what would happen. I would be like so many of the people around me, like so many of the guys I had come to know in that line of work; complacent with something that is far below my own standard, willing to spend the rest of my life working my way up in a field and a corporation that I feel absolutely nothing but contempt for. Maybe that works for some people, but it couldn’t work for me. I still don’t know what I want to do, and maybe that will still take some serious sussing-out, but I knew beyond a doubt that it wasn’t that.

Where I go from here is still a giant question mark. I can choose literally any path to pursue and just go for it, full-steam ahead. But that scares me too. The fact that I can be rejected, tossed-aside, or told no at any given point in time still hinders me from even taking that first step and putting myself out there. Working with people still interests me, but after the year and a half of isolation, only seeing the same 6-8 dudes in the dead of night, every night, before sleeping all day, I fear I’ve lost that touch of charisma I’d always believed myself to possess. I think I want to look for jobs in the field of bartending, serving, or something of that variety. I just don’t know where to start, and more horrifyingly, I’m not sure I trust myself to. I know my brain is complicated just like everyone else’s, but I honestly feel sometimes that it is content to pay the world no mind, and to stay in it’s own little cocoon where it is safe, and no one can hurt it. This cannot be the case though; not in this current world we live in.

So I suppose after that long, dreary flood of sad and personal information, catching you up on a year and a half of fruitless working to meet external obligations, I’d like to first thank you for reading this far if you have; it’s truly appreciated. Secondly, I guess I would ask for some insight from any who could understand where my brain is at right now, because I hardly do. Again, being undiagnosed with ADHD means I can’t be certain of the source of my internal turmoil, but I do resonate with the struggles I hear from people who do deal with this specific condition. So please, if you or anyone you know has been in a weird place for a weird reason, and not really known how or where to go from there, don’t be afraid to let me know how you or they went about getting their stuff figured out, and getting back on their path to a happy/remotely enjoyable life. Thank you, brains! :nerd_face: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :blue_heart:


Hello and welcome and yes, I read it!

Very specific question: how long do you have to remain resident in the state you now live in before becoming eligible for the cheaper rate tuition fees?

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Now that you’ve taken a step back to look at your situation I think you’ve started on the path to getting unstuck. I think what you’ve described is a really common experience and that you’ve figured out more than you might realize. Taking time to think about your options is a great plan. You know you’ve got time, so you can really give yourself time to think, research and plan.

The biggest issue (for everyone) is work, right? Types of jobs you’d like in the long run, and types of jobs that would pay the bills in the meantime but also let you keep working toward your bigger goals. Bartending or serving sound like good options. How can you get more info about them (in general, or in your area)?

Compare the possibilities, and work out on paper how to get from here to there. What credentials, experience, time or money does that goal need? What resources are available? What are the blanks in your roadmap and where can you get more information? Try to break it down into small steps with lots of detail so when you start following the plan you’ll always know what the next step is.

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In my experience figuring these things out works best when you talk it through with other people. That could be friends, family, this forum, people who work in fields you are considering. Other people have information and ideas. They will also ask questions and that part is really helpful.

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Hi, thanks for the read! To answer your question, logistically speaking, I’m pretty certain by this point that I have gained eligibility for residency in my new state. The only thing that would need to happen is for me to take a trip to the DMV (everyone’s favorite thing to do) and to get that sorted out. I’ve worked and lived here long enough that it really shouldn’t be an issue; the reason I’ve NOT done this yet however is because I still have no real idea what I’m doing here. I came for school, but I’m not doing that anymore. Going back and getting a more affordable tuition is appealing, yes, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still have no idea what I’m wanting to do with that degree. Whether I pay in-state or out-of-state tuition, going back to school right now would just mean owing more and more money for something that I’m not even sure I have any plans to use.

Regardless of the school thing, my first priority is to figure out where I want to be. The biggest thing causing me concern and discourse right now is the fact that I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I’m here by circumstance, I don’t have any desire to return to my dad’s home, and my mom is living far away and she’s happy with her husband in their new place. I’m essentially on my own, nomadic, and don’t know where I can or should be right now, so I’m just here.

Hello! I deeply appreciate your insight. You’re totally right; this is going to come down to a lot of searching on my end, doing my own research and taking the time to suss out all the little details. The problem with being on my own is that I reeeeeally struggle to get myself to do those things, even when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how important and useful it would be for me. It’s frustrating, because I know what needs to happen in my head, but when it comes to actually sitting down and making it happen, my mind will look for literally anything else to busy myself with. I have plenty of time on my hands now to plan and figure out a life and goals for myself, but I worry that if I keep finding ways to distract myself instead of solving the problem, that time will eventually run dry.

One thing I’m trying to get started to work on this is to build a bullet journal; something that is my own, that I can go wild with writing my own thoughts and plans in. I’m a visual and kinesthetic learner, so having something in front of me that I’m physically working on makes it feel much more tangible and real that I’m in the situation that I am, and makes it a lot more difficult to deny/distract myself. I’m going to spend some time today doing a bit of that on paper, and figuring out what it is about bartending that draws me. Maybe I’ll learn something new about myself that can provide even more insight :slightly_smiling_face: Thank you for the recommendation!

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Yup, this is super hard. An accountability buddy might help, or gamifying the task

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To be honest I think you owe yourself a pat on the back. You seem to have the insight into your life that many don’t have well past your age. You know that you want more. You know that you don’t want what you have now. You have the drive and determination to grind away to get what you want(or think you want).

What you don’t have is the experience to answer the bigger questions. Like what you want to get from your life. With the skills and determination you have displayed I don’t think you should fear trying out a few different jobs / travelling / studying. Being rejected from a job or whatever else in the long run is probably inconsequential. And maybe even a benefit. You are young and my personal opinion is the biggest risk to your future is not living your life now. Getting out and finding your way forward could well be your way forward. You can’t tell what your favourite breakfast cereal is unless you start trying a few.

The thing with ADHD is that unless what your doing tickles your brain you won’t want to do it. Every job / task / whatever has bits that you will not want to do. But if the heart of your chosen direction stimulates you from what you have said I don’t think they will get in your way.

I think you should just pick something anything and give it a shot and move on if it doesn’t fit you.



Gamifying unpleasant tasks is something I try to do all the time. I’m big on getting goals and tasks taken care of in video games, but suck at it in my real life, so taking something like a to-do list and making it a reward system of sorts, complete with a spreadsheet and colored markings or something really does make it strangely more doable. I just wish I didn’t have to go through all that effort and could just manually get these ‘simple’ things done without the need for so much behind the scenes activity, like my more left-brain-oriented peers.

Also, I’m still super new here. Please do let me know how you quote people’s posts in your reply if you get the chance. Thanks!

It’s funny, I feel like I hear those words way more than I should. Many have said similar things; that I shouldn’t feel so dire and dreary about it all, and that I have it more figured out than I think I do. I appreciate that, so thank you. The issue though is that I still can’t really believe it. I feel as though it takes a real indecisive and undetermined person to get where I’m at: in a random state, with few to no local friends, doing basically nothing and being totally unsure of how to go about getting anywhere else.

I realize I am my own biggest hurdle, without a doubt, and if I could just be less afraid of being uncomfortable or rejected, I’d be willing to try out more of the cereal options that life has to offer. I don’t want to miss out, but I’m so locked into this mindset of ‘woe is me’ and ‘I guess I’ve lost’, I’m not even sure how to untangle from it. I’m just going to have to keep pushing and pushing until I convince myself to try.

Untangle from what ? You are already an adventurer. Your in a new state. Living your own life . And proven that you can drive change to steer your own course.

You might feel that you are a little adrift but that my friend is what life is. And how you steer that ship will define what you take from it and give back to it.

That feeling of not knowing how to move forward or any direction at all if embraced and seen as freedom and not as something you are responsible for creating and needing to controll(which your just not its just part of life sometimes)

Your not doing anything wrong you’re just living your lfe

Sorry about the boat analogies once i set sail I couldn’t stop


If you highlight part of a post, a quote link appears and you click it.

I think we tend to assume other people have things figured out, overestimate others and underestimate ourselves.

I’ve known a lot of people who started a degree without a plan for how to use it, or switched degree programs, or ended up with challenging student loan debt. I’ve also know lots of situations where people took the first job so they’d have something and stayed at a job that wasn’t working for them because they were on autopilot. I’ve done some of those things myself. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the day-to-day act of putting one foot in front of the other and not stop to question things.

A lot of people share these struggles. If this feels hard it’s because it /is/ hard. And that’s ok. You can do the difficult thing. But I think it’s really demotivating if you tell yourself that it’s easy for most other people.

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Bahaha! No apology necessary, I love a good nautical reference. And I’m just being overly metaphorical, like always. I feel entangled in the thoughts, fears, and insecurities that prevent me from living life. I realize it’s something I just have to work on and stop allowing to dictate my actions. I’ve gotta steer this ship in a new direction and just see what happens… :grimacing: :sweat_smile:

You’re absolutely right. I keep letting that knowledge slip from my mind, and allowing it to make me feel isolated. I understand I’m not alone on the path of ‘I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing, but I’m going to just keep doing it because it works’, it’s just scarily easy to forget it. I guess a big fear is that I don’t want to be like so many others who succumb to that. A lot of the guys I met at that job were just that; older or less motivated men who didn’t really have a passion for what they were doing, but were willing to spend the rest of their adult lives doing it. That’s a big reason I had to get out of there; I didn’t want that to be me.

I’m going to start making more of an effort to find solace in the fact that I’m not the only person on earth who doesn’t have a plan for everything. Thank you for the reminder. :slightly_smiling_face:

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