Asking for a Friend: Struggling to find a dream job & being ostracized by housemates

The Journal's advice-giver guides two students who feel like outsiders

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I’m Audrey Helpburn, The Journal’s resident advice-giver. I answer questions about love, friendship, school, and more to help Queen’s students put their best foot forward on and around campus.

Although I’m not a professional, I aim to give the best advice I can to students who need a bit of guidance. This time around, I’m advising two students who feel like outsiders: one who feels like the only young person without a dream career, and the other who’s being left out and ostracized by their housemates.

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I'm months away from graduating and freaking out about finding a job.

It's not that I don't have a good resume; it's more that I can't decide what my passion is and what I want to do with my life. I know that by fourth year, I should have already figured this out.

I want a job that is a fit for me emotionally and socially, not just financially. Where do I begin? I feel like I'm falling behind—tons of my friends already have their dream jobs or are on paths toward them. I don't even know what my dream is yet.

Signed,

The Bad Dreamer

 

Dear The Bad Dreamer,

First off, don't treat life like a race—you don't need to hurry to the finish line. As clichéd as that sounds, life truly isn’t a race. Once you eventually land a job that you feel you may be in for a while, you'll realize there was no rush to get there in the first place.

Take your time and, if you have the means, do some of the things you know you'll have wanted to do in your 20s once you're ‘washed up’—try out some different jobs, travel, write a novel, get an internship, adopt a stray cat. This isn’t to say that you should abandon your career plans completely, but that you should take the time to get to know yourself through different experiences. Instead of thinking of your career as a one-track lane with no exits, start thinking of it more like a path that goes in various directions, any of which could take you somewhere important.

At the end of the day, your life—like everyone else’s—will be made up of many experiences and big and small moments. Relish them and the dramatic change of graduation while you can. If you think getting the perfect job right away is the only good route, you’ll miss out on all the great little moments that make up life.

Enjoy the journey. While you’re at it, make an appointment with a Queen’s career counsellor, sit down and outline your favourite aspects of past jobs, or take an online career quiz. Get to know yourself and what you like, then get out there and see what you can accomplish.

All the best,

Audrey Helpburn

 

I live with five housemates, yet I feel all alone. They always do things without me and I feel completely left out. They pretend that they invited me or that they’re being nice, but in reality the only time they’re nice to me is when they’re completely condescending.

These girls were my friends before, but since living with them, I’ve felt super ostracized. I’m worried that if I speak up, things will spiral out of control.

Help!

Signed,

Alone in a Crowded Room

 

Dear Alone in a Crowded Room,

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common at university: a lot of people live with peers or friends that they initially like as people, but who end up not being the best choice as housemates. If it’s not working out with these people, don’t force it. Although it will be hard to continue living with people you don’t feel comfortable around, it’s best to focus your time and energy into making new friends or enjoying activities you love to do on your own.

You don’t need your housemates’ approval or friendship to carry on a satisfying life. Think of your house as a shared living space, but your social and academic life as your own. Be friendly with them, and bring up issues calmly as they happen, but don’t try to force friends together if it doesn’t happen naturally.

If you end up becoming close with a friend or friends outside of your house and feel that you would rather live with them, consider changing your living arrangements for next year. Even though you shouldn’t let your housemates get you down, it’s best to live with people who will include you in their plans, or at the very least, treat you with respect. 

All the best,

Audrey Helpburn

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