"If it's causing you more stress than it's worth... it's not worth it." - Yellow
Question #52924 posted on 08/04/2009 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I seem to live with a condition wherein few things interest me. I am currently not a college graduate, working in a career I do not enjoy. I am married, working full time to support my wife in her advanced degree. I have looked in depth at all the majors at BYU and the other University where I am now a student. Literally none of them appeal me to the point that I'd be willing to spend several years and many thousands of dollars to become educated in those fields. I seem to have the uncanny 'ability' to eschew any possibility that comes my way. As soon as an idea comes into my mind, I immediately think of plenty of reasons not to pursue said idea.

It has gotten to the point where I would rather just sit around and watch Arrested Development (no irony there, I assure you) in lieu of doing anything meaningful. It isn't that I don't want to be successful and happy. It is just that I cannot find any avenue through which I can be happy, successful, and most importantly at this stage, financially competent and sound.

I've been told this is often a symptom of some type of depression--I've been treated in the past with rounds of therapy, and most anti-depression medications on the market, all to little avail.

I feel as though my progress in all aspects of my life has been stunted--reversed in some cases even. I really don't know what to do. Any ideas, comments or suggestions?

It is much appreciated.

- Anonymous

A: A-

Move. Find a different university with a major that would interest you. Find a hobby, such as baking, running, painting, gardening, or something similar. Find an apprentice program in a field you think would be fun and apply for it. Read intellectually demanding books, and unplug your TV (it will suck your life away). Don't hang out on the internet so often. Apply for a new job (no amount of money is worth the misery of an unpleasant job). If you feel like it's possible you are depressed, continue to see a therapist (but maybe you need a new one) and take the medications they prescribe for you.

In short, make some major changes in your life to prevent yourself from stagnating at the point you are at.

- Cuddlefish
A: Dear Nony,

I agree with Cuddlefish here, in some ways. You might just have to deal with a bunch of meaningless crap (i.e., education that never directly applies to your field) to get to the point where you feel that you can do something meaningful. Instead of thinking of reasons not to do something, try to think of reasons you might want to do it.

Sometimes I feel like I don't have interest in things either (not as badly as you do, though). I look at the hard work I put into things and wonder why I was such a sucker. But, this is an outlook that isn't going to help me get anywhere. I find that when I stop worrying about what "interests" me and just dive into material, I start to get interested in it again. Maybe you're past the point where doing a little research will revive your interest. Ask your wife what you think you would be good at, and what you would enjoy, based on what you've enjoyed in the past, and start to do some work at that.

Agh, every time I say "work at it," I get the feeling that I'm missing your main issue, which is that you don't feel motivated to do anything, because nothing interests you. It might help you to go back to your core beliefs and examine why ANYTHING is worth doing. Don't go overboard in the pessimism here - try to think about this with some hope if you can. If you're LDS, you know that we're here on earth for a purpose - to get a body, to learn line upon line, and to participate in saving ordinances. We believe that our relationships with others and the knowledge we gain are the only things we can take with us when we die. Might it be worthwhile to learn all that you can while you're here? And if you can't motivate yourself to learn ancient Greek (or computer programming, or philosophy, or anything, really), don't you think it would be worth a couple of hundred dollars to get into a class where someone experienced in the field can help you organize and pace your learning?

Anyway. Maybe academics isn't the thing for you. When I was feeling really cynical about academics, I found that learning some piano technology really invigorated my love of learning. Try working with your hands - like learning to play piano, or taking a martial arts class, or having a friend teach you how to maintain motorcycles. Learning something that isn't abstract as a foreign language or a literature course might help you regain interest in things.

And, maybe you can make a career out of watching Arrested Development... I understand that film and popular culture are valid areas of academia... ;-)

That's all I've got. I wish there was some magic potion that could get you excited about things, but I don't know you well enough to know what things interested you in the past. Your therapist will probably have some better and more specific suggestions.

-Whistler