Struggling and Panicking

So I just completed my AA degree and have no idea what I want to do. My parents are really pushing me to get a job (i’ve never had one before, 20-year-old female) but I know I’ll be bored to death if I just get a normal retail/office job because I have terrible communication and social skills and generally find the work itself to be horribly monotone. Plus I’m terrified at the thought of dealing with the difficult customers, though I know there is no avoiding them whatever I go into.

I’ve always loved music, I have played the French Horn since 6th grade and play fairly well, but I completely bomb every audition and assessment even though I am 2nd chair in the college band. I even failed an audition into FSU and have been told to not expect to be accepted before they refused me.

I also love art, but I keep getting bored of one medium and starting another over and over again, and I’m worried if I pick something for a career I’ll just end up bored again. I am taking a photography class in the fall so I can learn about lighting and such so I could maybe become a freelance photographer, but I am losing interest in that already, having not taken a photo in months.

Space and Astronomy always held my interest, but I can hardly multiply two double-digit numbers without a calculator, nevermind advanced algebra or calculus. I have always been terrible at math.

One thing that I had liked for a long time was something to do with mystery and anticipation, like the opening of mystery boxes and things like that, always wanting to know what’s inside of stuff. If there are any careers in that area please let me know :sob:

I just don’t know what to do, and it certainly doesn’t help that my parents keep pushing me to get a job and just assuming I’m lazy, even though ironically my mother has untreated ADD. I just feel like I’m letting them down and looking like a leech to them because I don’t know what to do, but at the same time it’s like they would rather see me torture myself with a job I absolutely hate than have no job at all and take my time finding one I actually do enjoy. I wish I could talk to them about it but my dad is neurotypical and doesn’t understand why I’m like this, and my mom pushes in her own opinion then gets angry with me when I present a counter to that opinion and refuses to listen to me.
Any ideas on what to do?

1 Like

Some quick insights…

I have terrible communication and social skills.

Great! Improve them once society opens up again i.e. don’t accept this limitation on your capabilities. For Starters: find out if your region has a local Toastmasters branch or Junior Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations offer individual development and professional development events where (typically for free) you can participate with a group of people in activities designed to help improve public speaking, communication, social networking/interaction, etc.

I’ve always loved music / I also love art

Great. So do I! But it’s extremely difficult to support yourself in any artistic or creative pursuit. Keep your interests in it and your photography as a hobby. At most - you might be able to at some point earn a small residual income here and there selling your work, but don’t approach it like that.

Space and Astronomy always held my interest, but I can hardly multiply two double-digit numbers without a calculator, nevermind advanced algebra or calculus. I have always been terrible at math.

Nobody is terrible at math - they’ve been convinced by bad teachers and peers that they’re bad at math. I have severe ADHD and was convinced that I was a no-good failure who could “hardly multiply two double-digit numbers without a calculator, nevermind advanced algebra or calculus” — Now I hold a Master’s Degree in Computer Science specializing in Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence, and have taught college math courses.

One thing that I had liked for a long time was something to do with mystery and anticipation, like the opening of mystery boxes and things like that, always wanting to know what’s inside of stuff.

Speaking of combining Music, Art, Math, Space, and Astronomy - why not check out video game development and/or creative coding? The math is there but not obsessive, music and art are essential, creativity is [too] unbounded, and you can code up something like a spaceflight simulator or sim city space colony game/simulation. Let me know if you’d like some more info on this.

I just don’t know what to do, and it certainly doesn’t help that my parents keep pushing me to get a job

I think it’s because they love you and care about you (corny, I know, but I’ll explain what they might be trying to commnicate). So let me enter their corner for a sec… I also suggest you definitely get a normal retail/office job! Why?

  • Foremost: some income i.e. to pay for essentials while supporting your hobbies and projects.
  • Further: some responsibility and experience handling all kinds of situations you’ll encounter.
  • Also: will help boost practical communication and social skills, which will help you in life!
  • Further Still: mom and dad are kept happy, such that…
  • Lastly: It buys you time to play with your interests and maybe find something you can grab onto and pursue in more detail.

Finally: You’re 20. Figuring out a lot of important things will take at least 10 years, and even then none of us (neurotypical nor ADHD) ever have everything figured out. Your mom and dad know that because they’re people too, just like you and I.

So what I could add to help encourage you with in your endeavors is this: As long as your making legit constructive, productive progress in your individual, professional, social, and other areas of being, even if the progress is small - you’re doing life right.

Hope This Helps!


Also - be kind to yourself. You’re concerned in most if not all of the right areas, which is absolutely great because it beats not giving a damn in life. This is why I suggested making small improvements where possible, as the process of achieving you will take an entire lifetime!

As to your folks: If you’re demonstrating progress and a best effort with immediate work as well as finding a trade that can both fulfill you as a person and fully support you towards becoming independent, and mom and dad are still being a pain — that’s a different story. You can tell me whether or not they’re genuinely supportive; but in either case - what you’ll be doing is foremost beneficial for you!



I’d try not to expect your first job to be the perfect job. It’s okay to try things out. If you think that you’d suck at a boring desk job, try looking for something active that keeps you moving like a coffee shop, retail, or delivery work. If you hate interacting with people, maybe look at things like factory work or data entry.

I’d suggest that you still make time for your passions and interests but wouldn’t say that you need to find a career in any one of them just yet.

I heard one of the ADHD coaches say, “Don’t follow your passion, follow your effort” when it comes to jobs. Find a job that you can enjoy doing, even if it’s not your passion or life dream. Dr. Ned Hallowell also stresses that the best workplace accommodation for ADHD is finding a job that meets your needs and style. So, it may take some time to learn what you really want and need, so don’t expect the first job to check all the boxes. Start part-time with something, and know that you can quit at any time and look for something else. You can also keep job searching while you have a job.



I believe that there is truth in the saying, “Nothing ventured, Nothing gained!”

Doing is better than doing nothing! In the absence of having some real experience it’s very easy for one’s imagination to think in terms of failing! If you think “failure” is your only option . . . Then . . . Well you know!


Both offer some solid suggestions. You need only try . . . Then there is a good chance that you will succeed in some things!

We’re rooting for you!!


Well first question, are you medicated?

Work retail/fast food etc.
If you’re 20 and have never had a job, have adhd, feel you have inadequate social skills or social anxiety, I think it may be a decent idea to work at like a mcdonalds or something. Why ? Because it’s awful and kinda goes against what you feel inadequate about, not suggesting this as an actual long-term solution, but working such a job will help teach you important skills and make you feel comfortable with being uncomfortable. I have very severe ADHD, not going to go into long detail, but it’s bad, but at 14 I was able to get 2 jobs and stick with them for a bit, it was incredibly hard sometimes. I got the jobs because I was so pissed off at feeling so stupid, and that I was going to become nothing in my life, and just be a massive disappointment because everyone that knows me thinks i’m smart, but I felt, even though I was trying in school etc. [ Undiagnosed/treated at the time], I was going to fall short of people expectations.

So I pushed away all my friends, became anti-social in order to somewhat focus during class, I needed these 2 jobs because I was paying my tuition at a private school that I got a partial scholarship to via like a series of tests I did great on .

[ It amazed a lot of people that I got in, once again, my ADHD was very bad, I had a lengthy disciplinary report, a record of fighting in school, disobedience etc. I had bad grades usually, some of my grades would be like an A in 2 class, a B, a 2 C’s, and a 40% in another class, honestly the worst part about it, is I usually tried my hardest in the class I had a 40% in, but still did awful, and the classes I aced, I didn’t even try in, it kinda pissed me off because teachers etc. thought I just didn’t try in that class, or even if they realised why I was struggling there wasn’t much they could do, like I had atrocious tendencies to turn everything under the sun in late, and very late sometimes, I also had a very long absence record, due to depression, anxiety, and trying to catch up on assignments etc. In fact, I think I’ve had truancy like maybe 2 or 3 years in a row, maybe 5 times total, like 5 years would be max, but nothing ever gets done about it, because while some of my grades are bad, others are straight A’s or actually over 100% sometimes, and idk if it’s all schools, but at least my school makes it and issue more so with kids with worse GPA’s and stuff, because school funding is based on GPA’s and attendance, so I have real bad attendance, and some bad grades but some great ones, so it takes awhile for the school to get through all the kids who have awful grades and awful attendance before it almost becomes an issue for me.One school accepted me, and actual gave a partial scholarship for my tuition, which was great bc really couldn’t afford it period, my step-dad thought it was dumb and wouldn’t help pay so I had to pay about half of it, and it was like $8,000 + uniform and a whole bunch of other stuff, I ended up paying like over $3,000 by myself with sports and equipment, and all my mom helped with the rest, but I dropped out of it after a semester, the other schools just straight up denied me because of attendance, and fighting ]

But long story short, my anger at myself kinda, fueled me to work 2 jobs a day, mcdonalds, crew member, kinda did everything it depends, lots of cashier which was difficult because I was never actually trained, so everytime I needed to figure something out I had to ask someone else, which isn’t fun whilst your packed, but i lived. I had to clean and take out the trash, I had to sporadically do this a lot depending on the manager, some of the mangers I pissed off in a plethora of ways, sometimes disobedience, sometimes annoying probably, others hated bc of personal things, like I did a few real not nice moves to a friend or something of theirs, so some of the managers as soon as they arrived would put me on cleaning duty to go clean stuff. Now the jokes really on them because I didn’t mind cleaning duty, well I hate cleaning something that isn’t dirty bc it lacks purpose, but I got over it and stopped caring, i actually kinda enjoyed cleaning duty because I could just be there with my random thoughts, and this could last me hours, or kinda just entertain myself by cleaning, and making it like a game with an objective.

I’ve got not the greatest memory, I also have emotional dysregulation, I got dyspraxia too, and dyslexia, i’ve got a lot of stuff but these are some of the things that really would screw me up in this work environment. There was stuff on the POS system at mcdonalds that took me like forever to learn how to do, like months, and then I still forget, it was painful. I have awful short term memory so I forget what I’m doing as i’m doing it, what was I getting? What was the special order on that Big Mac? What car does this order goto? Who’s supposed to sign this? What the procedure for this again? WHERE THE F*** IS THE MCGRIDDLES, honestly the breakfast menu was the worst, because there’s little pictures of what things are on the POS system, and seriously everything on the breakfast menu looks the exact same, it could seriously take me like 10 minutes to find something, the breakfast sandwiches were so painful to find, and then on top of it you can’t really go by text that well, or atleast quickly, because it all looks that same again, you got the Mcgriddle, you got the Mcgriddle w/sausage, you got the Mcgriddle with sausage and egg, then you got the Mcgriddle w/sausage egg and cheese, and I barely knew the difference between a Mcgriddle and a Breakfast sandwich, so all I see is 30 Mcgriddles when I look at the screen, it took so much focus, That I didn’t have or really care to give. It was painful. But a learning experience nonetheless.

Honestly there was plenty of times I should have been fired, surprisingly never happened, there were plenty of times I was late, but really only like a few minutes so never much of an issue, may have been a handful maybe 10 minutes late, don’t really recall too much just assuming there had to be, there were a few times I didn’t call in I wasn’t coming and didn’t come what they referred to as a “No call No show” which is like a big deal, and fireable thing, but like only like once maybe twice it was my fault, pretty sure only once tho, the other times it happened it was actually the General Manager or store manager, the guy who like manages the mangers, hires people, etc. Because I told him I could come to work because I was prescribed tylenol - 3 w/codeine for a surgery and injury. He told me to try and come in, and that i’d be fine, but I blacked out and slept a very hard 18 hours instead, also when I did end up coming to work later that week, I was beyond high as a kite, I was useless, like more useless than usually, my cognitive functions were very impiared, it felt like a mental task to hold the saliva in my mouth, it felt like I was walking on clouds, loopy would be an understatement, later I found out I a pretty bad hyperextensive metabolizer of codeine [I get a lot more morphine from codeine than the average person due to a surplus of enzymes in its metabolic pathway, so it makes me very high in summary], he only had me come to work a few more times on codeine again, don’t really recall any of it tbh, I also used to make fun of my GM ill just call him, he was pretty cool with it and joked a lot too, but sometimes he would tell me to stop, and I wouldn’t, bc i’d be hyper, and people would be laughing at my jokes, and he’d have to have a talk with me, and in which I could barely stifle my laugh because of my oppositional defiant disorder, makes me really not intimidated by authoritative figures, and kinda makes the situation more funny. Also had a few co-workers who wanted me to be fired, because they didn’t like me and I wasn’t nice to them in general, kinda a outside of work issue, but the one kid had like 4 siblings who were managers, and really hated me, so its wild I didn’t get fired. And the girl he liked for years, made out with me at work, a couple of times, during work, and after work, he snitched because he heard about it from other people, and I had to get admonished by my GM, who later used it to make fun of me and also to make fun of that kid, honestly it was actually funny, btw I say kid and he was like 17 or 18 at the time I was like 14, I wasn’t being mean to like an actual kid, idk why i chose that terminology.

Point being there were a lot of struggles with that job, and humiliation/embarrassment, many social skills, many things that were uncomfortable, but I seriously think that helped me in the long run and all.

As well as I had an under the table job, sometimes like 7:00 -10:30 or midnight, which I was a busser at a restaurant, sometimes had to help serve, which is like me and my dyspraxia’s worst fear, sometimes my legs just don’t like listening to my brain, my balance is off, I can be clumsy, I also walk on my tippy toes without noticing, and sometimes have a bounce in mystep. Proud to say I only broke a few glasses, everyone does, honestly broke less than I expected, the 1st time I broke it, I almost died for like a few seconds, and then my ODD kicked in i guess, and I was like wait, who cares, if I get fired, Then I just don’t have that job, which I didn’t have the job before, so I could manage.

With that job, it helped a lot with, learning to work while completely exhausted and in pain, I also have fibromyalgia so that’s worth noting, it got to the point where I was going to school sport’s [football or lacrosse] condition and weight lifting, in the early morning, it was like 5 am or something, but it was like an hour away so I had to be up at like 3:40, then goto school which ended like 2 or 3ish, to which I had either more conditioning and weight training until 5 or 6ish, we were let go early sometimes, and had to go home, get showered and go straight to work sometimes until midnight, and sometimes repeat it again the next day, I ended up learning how to stay up 3-4 days straight, take power naps, push through unbearable fatigue, abuse large dosages of caffeine, some how not fail during this, maintain somewhat of a social life, and learned to eat while doing other things all the time, protein bars with like no taste became my best friend, and energy drinks. All this without medication as well. This with a few other things became the reason I ended up dropping out of that school, it became too much at 1 point, and I honestly was depriving myself of so much sleep.

But that job also helped me with social anxiety in a way, as a fair amount of my co workers, spoke mostly spanish, I however, was failing spanish with a 32% [the one class I was doing bad at in private school], so kinda the language barrier sometimes made it so I had to pay more attention to what my co workers were trying to tell me or explain etc. And they were really great people.

Also I learned to work, when my boss isn’t a friendly person, honestly not that he was really mean or anything, he could get a little hot headed, but he was a very, i guess cold, not sociable guy really, he was pretty strict and stuff, so it was different compared to mcdonalds in which I joked around a lot with my boss/store manager. It paid pretty nice, and he wasn’t like someone that bothered me or anything, just not really a joking kinda guy, more strict and focus based.

At this job, I also kinda, learned better to find stuff to do, when not being told what to do, which is a skill for jobs, and kinda just life in general. At mcdonalds, if you worked there for more than 6 weeks, half the time, instead of actually being productive or busy, you just pretended, you just “looked busy, or like your doing something.”

But at the restaurant, he was a lot stricter on, go find something to do, don’t be on your phone, etc. So I kinda learned better, how to figure out what to do to be productive on my own, and prioritize and stuff, and I think that skill transpires into life in general, especially as a young adult.

Your Future
Now for finding your career.

Step 1. Medicate or if you don’t have medication and are diagnosed, consider a form of stimulant medication imo. Now why are you going to medicate, when trying to find your career, well some steps of this may be better, actually unmedicated, for finding careers in regards to your interests etc. But, you gotta take time out, list your interests, your pros, unique redeemable qualities, your flaws, your credentials, and organize all of this and i’m sure there’s things I forgot, but a lot of this might be time consuming, and a lot of it actually relies on your executive functions quite a bit, which is essential all the functions that are impaired in ADHD, and well stimulant medication tends to greatly help with executive functions for the majority of people with ADHD, not everyone but most. So medicate one day, and organize this big list, and try to objectively weigh things like pros and cons with values. Do a lot of the boring research, salary per year, job availability, projected future job availability, precedent examples of similar experiences similar to that job and an analysis of how the experience was for you, etc. Honestly remember you don’t have to do all of it at once, take your time, and do it efficiently.

Step 2. Then when your unmedicated, also list and weigh, things that personally interest you, things you tend to naturally focus on, how you learn best, maybe discuss your pros and flaws with family members or friends, its good to get outside opinions to decrease bias, that you may want to do either medicated or unmedicated not too big of difference, the only reason I say list like things you interest you and stuff like that unmedicated, is to avoid and interference with your personal interests from the depression of the limbic system caused by stimulants, which may make you feel like your personality is different or something for some people.

Step 3. When you have a bunch of interests, pros and cons of jobs, and your redeemable qualities and flaws from yourself introspectively, and family or friends, start to get an idea of your best qualities etc. worst flaws etc. What you like the most in the world etc. start to really analyze the value or weight of each of these, then try to see in what ways they all align. Like what careers rely on you talents and skills, rely less on your flaws, while including personal interests, and use your research to see and compare and contrast. the requirements, the pay, the job availability, future availability etc.

Conclusion I think?
Sorry this was very long winded, probably bad line of reasoning tbh, probably confusing and all.
Also random side bar, consider some apps and website that can help you do this stuff, google some and compare them.

Thing is, I probably could have done this a lot better nd I might come back and revise it, and kinda depends on if you reply etc.

But the point being, you don’t have to figure it out today, you don’t need the list completed tomorrow, you don’t need to make a decision right now, The only thing YOU HAVE to do is, start making a little progress, maybe start easy, maybe watch youtube videos on finding careers etc. Maybe start your list and what not, you don’t have to do crazy amounts of work right now on this, but what you really should do is, make sure your making progress on this and reflecting, maybe increments of 30 minutes a day and see where that gets you, and you should reflect and analyze also how effectively your treating your ADHD, medication, diet, behaviors such as sleep schedule, meditation, exercise etc. etc. Because ADHD doesn’t change 1 part of your brain, it’s a lot, but there’s not secret solve all guide to life, but at least for me I can say, what tends to be the most effective solution before I attempt to do anything, and even generally, is making sure I adequately am treating my ADHD in the most effective ways possible, and if I have to take time, hours, to objectively write out how my medication is working, what behaviors are helping etc. and reflect for hours, I have to say every time It is worth it, when ever I go through a really bad phase of depression, once I treat my ADHD symptoms it goes away, same with bad phases of anxiety, and honest a lot of things, just work out and fix themselves once my ADHD symptoms are taken care of, so keep that in mind.

1 Like

Great that you care so much and took the time to share your experiences and thoughts!!



1 Like