Career/taking control of my life at 26

Posted by: raphael

Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/15/20 02:13 AM

Dear everyone,

First of all please excuse my English. I am a French/German national and am almost certain you will find some mistakes in my post (if you feel like it, please correct them, I am always happy to learn).
My IQ has not been tested but I am quite certain that I am gifted. I identify with all 5 overexcitabilities (psychomotor, sensory, intellectual, imaginational, emotional). I went straight from kindergarden to 2nd grade upon counsel from teachers/school director.
In school I was quite assiduous while being very reserved. I have dealt with some minor bullying, but looking back to it I was mostly respected by my peers. However, I always felt "different", not in a positive way. Like I had trouble establishing meaningful connections with peers. I mostly tried to fit in by acting as "normal" as possible. Looking back to it, I was pulling the brake a lot of the time.
I graduated high school as the best student in my class while being the youngest (16 1/2). I was especially good in the natural sciences (mathematics, physics, biology). However, I mostly felt like I completed school assignments to "please the teachers". School was to me, completing homework/passing tests, and I had trouble linking school concepts to the world around me, or simply didn't feel the interest to do so (e.g. calculating the acceleration of skier of mass m and down a slope of angle alpha in physics. Never actually cared what acceleration actually means as a "concept".)
I enrolled in engineering school in France at 16 1/2 while being very insecure about that (didn't really feel like "I chose"). I started skipping most of the classes. Spent a lot of time playing computer games, watching movies, hanging around with friends and, unfortunately, smoking a lot of weed and sporadiously engaging into the binge drinking which was quite common in my age group at the time.
I had mediocre grades (except for one exam in 2nd year physics which I had first failed and had to take a 2nd time. Probably the only exam where I actually gave everything I had, and ended up having a very good grade).
After 2 years I wanted to get out of there because I couldn't handle the skipping/smoking. I felt pretty confused and wanted to start over. Enrolled in a psychology curriculum back in Germany.
I skipped a bit less but looking back to it, didn't feel really challengend. I got rather good grades but repeated same patterns as in high school (only do what's necessary. Very rarely truly "dived" into the subject).
Outside of university, I enjoyed playing music and was in a band for a while.
At 20, first crisis. Decided to stop smoking weed. Started having crying outbursts. Decided to do psychotherapy, which partly helped, but partly I think I tricked myself and the therapist into intellectual overanalysing instead of pointing out the real problem - procrastination, general avoidance of taking responsibility for my life.
After first trying to get the easiest subject possible BA thesis subject possible - second crisis, what the hell am I doing. Went for a more hairy subject in psychological methods, which got me rolling a bit more while I had now trouble dealing with overperfectionistic tendencies (crying almost every day in the university library). Then went straight for all advanced master classes, instead of doing the introductory lectures. That made me feel like I had to put some effort, but I only did so for my own assignments; when it came to listening to other people's presentations I felt like I "didn't understand anything"; overcomplicated thoughts running through my head; also think that I was feeling quite bored by the subject at times.
After that, left with 4 exams and a master thesis to complete, spiralled back into dropout behaviour. No structure in my life. Partying, drugs, that kind of stuff. Overthinking, being lost. Started working in social science research. Started a second psychotherapy after having suicidal thoughts. General doubt about my studies - generated new ideas, for example studying environmental sciences. Never followed through with it.
Long phase of introspection through therapy. Understood that I was feeling a lot of guilt the whole time because of "not studying enough". While guilt never helps, remorse can still be a sign that something is wrong. This whole time, I didn't have or develop the internal drive to exploit my abilities by putting regular effort into my endeavours. Also understood that choosing psychology was partly out of interest partly avoiding natural sciences (maths, computer science), which are intuitively what I am interested in, because I didn't make it as a teenager in engineering school and until today, cannot be sure if it is because of a lack of abilities, or a lack of self-discipline and motivation, and the inability to handle studying at a quite young age.
Fast forward to today. I finally passed my last exam (after failing it the first time because of insufficient studying, lack of interest/motivation in learning stuff by heart, and lack of study strategies for overcoming the lack of motivation).
I am interested in things related to AI (intuitively). Directly related to my field, are (computational) neuroscience/psychiatry research or psychometrics. However, I lack the training in mathematics or computer science to be good in the field. I question my interest in psychiatry because, having been through phases of suicidal thoughts, it is painful to dive into the subject for me. I don't feel a real interest in psychometrics. I see that the more promising applications of machine learning algorithms are in bioinformatics/medical research or climate research, if thinking about the classical scientific setting, or data science if thinking about the industry (which I feel a bit less drawn to).
However I won't have the required degree to make it to there. I tend to worry a lot about all of this, compare myself to what others have already achieved at my age. I tend to spend a lot of time imagining what I could possibly become "one day", instead of doing "what I have to do", as my therapist said: get my degree, and then I'll have new options opening up. [I had various phases of general self-doubt about science in general. In phases of dropping out, I thought about becoming a writer, a musician... caused a lot of overthinking because I was seeing choices at the small scale of a student as deterministic for "the rest of my life", which, as I start to understand, is just a stupid way of thinking somehow engrained into part of the population. Hard to get rid of though.]
Options just don't feel great at the moment. Makes me feel kind of helpless. Like a labyrinth I have gotten into when I was 16 and I am trying to get out of ever since. At least, I have better eating/sleeping habits, have quit all drugs except nicotine and an occasional beer. Also started discovering that I can actually enjoy sports/physical activity after being rather lazy on that side in earlier years.

TL;DR: skipped 1st grade, very good at high school, former engineering school dropout and weed smoker, struggling to finish a psychology degree while already thinking about new fields or challenges to discover, trying to become a more consistent person.

My questions are:
- how relevant is my introspection into the reasons for my behaviour? [overprotective parenting; tendency to "refrain" my abilities in school; mild bullying; lack of self-discipline] and how much am I maybe enjoying the introspection for the sake of it, rather than letting go and finding challenging activities for myself?
- how much should I try to "exploit my abilities as much as I can"? And how much should I accept my life path for what it has been, and that it is okay if I am not the stellar physics student doing a PhD while working for the UN Global Pulse lab and developing algorithms for satellite image analysis or medical X-Ray image segmentation?
- related: how much should I push if I feel that this is more who I want to be, rather than a guy generally struggling with consistency in his life? [Because this also means - and I already feel it sometimes - getting distanced from old friends, and wanting to meet new and more "motivated" people.
- how can I be confident about who I am and want to become, and get rid of the labels that go with it (e.g. "I am a nerd, no one likes nerds, etc.)?
- how do I build back confidence after feeling like I failed at university?
- how do I become more aware of my needs? I tend to feel obliged to finish a job even if it bores me, instead of more actively taking control of my career. E.g. I could have switched from psychology after the bachelor, but felt like: "I started this. Now I have to finish it". I have now a job as a research assistant in a digital mental health startup. Until now it has been very boring, and it is hard to keep focus when I'm working. How do I tell my boss that I need more difficult assignments? How do I stop being satisfied with doing "the easy things"?

I'll leave to that for now, I am happy to open a discussion on my case and to answer any more precise questions.


Hope the message wasn't too long.

Regards,

Raphael
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/16/20 06:39 PM

Raphael, it is so good to see that you have worked very hard to be aware of your own internal processes and less helpful behaviors and tried to address those patterns in your life. You sound quite balanced in your own self description, aware of both strengths and weaknesses. I don't feel qualified to give you very much advice, but I did think that you might find it helpful to read this article:

https://www.davidsongifted.org/search-database/entry/a10421

Perhaps you will find it helps you understand some of your patterns of behavior or difficulties better?
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/18/20 09:51 AM

Thanks for the feedback (nice to hear that I at least sound balanced to an external person, even if I regularly do not feel so on the inside). And thanks for the article. I do see myself (partly) in the described population, partly I see that a lot of the innternal factors (especially perfectionism, low self-esteem, self-regulatory problems, and also some asynchronous development) have played a role in my life so far.

My remaining concerns are
- procrastination
- career choice: I entered psychology with an interest for clinical problems. Given my history, I just feel tired, even exhausted with the subject. However, I sometimes feel like I am "chickening out" if I try and go into a different direction. If anyone has similar experience with leaving a field (and somehow, a "project" that has been the center of one's life or dreams), I am happy to exchange about it.

Cheers,

Raphael
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/18/20 03:42 PM

I know of individuals who’ve successfully changed careers in their 30’s.
In Australia, med schools have a significant proportion of mature age students who embark on their courses at your age or even older.

So at 26, with a range of skills, work & life experiences and personal insights, to an outside observer, you appear to be in a reasonably good position to decide what you want to do wrt your career and life.

Only you know what fields interest you and how much effort you’re willing to invest, but if you do stay in your current job, IMO, it would be appropriate to let your supervisor know that you are keen for opportunities to expand your skill set. Job & financial security are very important, but at your age and from what you post about yourself, a position which is mentally rewarding as well seems to be indicated.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/21/20 01:52 PM

Originally Posted By: raphael
If anyone has similar experience with leaving a field (and somehow, a "project" that has been the center of one's life or dreams), I am happy to exchange about it.

I made a similar transition, but in the other direction. I left a doctoral program in a STEM field to go, ultimately, into my current branch of psychology, which I have found, on the whole, to be personally quite satisfying. My training program in this field was also the first time in my formal education that I was not young for grade, and thus automatically perceived as the young prodigy of the group, which was also an instructive and personally-enriching experience in its way.

I will say what I usually do to people of any age questioning whether they should embark on something new because of the time already invested or the time to be invested: in three years (or five or ten...), if you don't make this change, you'll be in the same place you are in right now...but the three (or...) years will have passed all the same. If you make a change, at least you will have taken some action to change your own trajectory.

Please do, though, take some time to reflect on the moments, thoughts, activities, circumstances, people, etc. that bring you joy, give you a sense of fulfillment and purpose, and help you to feel the most authentically yourself. I encourage you to look for patterns in those moments, and try to assemble a picture of the elements (personal, educational, career, etc.) that would contribute the most to a healthy, compassionate, and purposeful life for you. Keep in mind, too, that there are many different subfields within psychology and related domains. Retuning your focus may not mean discarding all of the credits you've accumulated.

On a different note, as to procrastination: I have a lot of personal experience with this, too. smile For myself, I've found it helpful to be honest about the conditions under which I work best, and create systems for accountability that maintain those conditions when I need them. For instance, I work rather well to deadlines, but know not to allow work to pile up to the point that it feels overwhelming, so I've positioned myself in a field that has a lot of built-in deadlines running on short enough periods that I rarely am allowed to get so far behind that it feels like it's too much. I also have developed checklists, reminders, and organizational strategies over time that work for me. You will have different ones, of course. But the single most important factor has been that I care about the outcomes of my work, and don't want it to be poor quality, so even when I feel like procrastinating (or, more accurately, don't feel like doing a particular task), I feel a sense of responsibility toward the people who will be affected by how accurately and promptly I perform my work.

When you find the kind of work that matters to you during this season of your life, you will also find additional internal resources for managing procrastination.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/21/20 04:34 PM

Such great pearls of wisdom from Aeh, further posts are hardly necessary, but I’d forgotten that as a new member, your posts would have taken a little longer to show up, therefore my first reply was made without being able to see your second post which precedes it, so this is something of an addendum (to Aeh & to my first post).

I have learnt to harness the power of procrastination - by strenuously procrastinating task A on my ToDo list, I can often complete tasks B-F. Then, riding on the strong wave of triumphant emotion resulting from multiple accomplishments, I usually find it easy to tackle task A.

I do know what it feels like to leave a field, which was the center of my dreams. I was quite gifted at maths and, throughout all my years at school, believed that I would eventually have a maths related career. I attended a school which, for the past 25 years, has regularly produced team members for the International Maths Olympiad, but I was the school’s first ever finalist and, on only my own steam back then, did not make the team. The crushing disappointment enabled my parents to persuade me onto a path to a different career. I mourned my lost dream, suffered a crisis of self-identity and struggled with tertiary study course materials which didn’t interest me.

It was a sobering experience to land in the workplace, responsible for the care of very sick patients. It was literally a momentous realisation that I just needed to knuckle down and focus on doing the best possible job because other people were dependent. I worked very, very hard (average of 70-80+ hrs/wk for 50 paid hours) and acquitted myself more than satisfactorily. Eventually, after I married, I did find a career niche with better work-life balance and at present, as a mid-career, working parent of three kids, I can’t say that I have any true regrets, though I can still clearly remember (and empathise with you) the feelings at a major cross road.

ETA: I still find ways to enjoy maths even though my formal work only occasionally includes a little bit of statistics. I’ve informally shown my kids, nephews, nieces, friends’ kids how to approach problem solving. I’m very chuffed whenever a young person says to me ‘I wish my teacher explained things the way you do’.

Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/23/20 03:59 PM

One more thing - if you change direction, what you’ve learned is unlikely to be wasted. A broad range of knowledge & understanding usually serves the owner well. This would also be true in the field of bioinformatics for which you’ve expressed an interest.

One specific bioinformatics example which springs from memory, was discovering that a commercial software system for massively parallel sequencing did not flag some clinical instances of pathogenic deletions. The bioinformatics experts explained that this was because tandem repeat polymorphisms are quite common, so the system was programmed to ignore length variations in sequences with repeating motifs. It was difficult for these computing experts, who had no understanding of physiology, to appreciate that one cannot apply a general rule which ignores deletions & duplications in coding regions of DNA because these are likely to produce frameshifts resulting in absent or non functioning proteins, leading to serious inheritable disorders.

A ‘Jack of All Trades & Master of None’ may often be better equipped to identify and troubleshoot problems, or recognise opportunities for improvement or development, than those who are experts in a very narrow field.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/23/20 04:31 PM

Yes! I firmly believe that nothing is wasted--no experience, no education, no struggle. All of it goes into who you become as a nuanced, mature, thoughtful human being, with unique contributions to society and to the individual people and moments you may encounter in your daily life. Some of the skills will have direct applicability in different fields, many of the ways of thinking or research will transfer--and even improve on conventional thinking in your new field, and all of your experiences will build into your specific, unreproducible perspective.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 07/24/20 01:37 AM

A few years ago I was talking to a fellow parent at a school event. He was a professor of medicine. We were talking about our children and the future of study and work. He talked about a student he clearly remembered fondly. She had been an excellent medical student but at a certain point felt she just wasn't sure it was for her. She came to him for advice, after all of her years of study and effort was she mad to go off and study law? How could she justify the "waste" of so many years of study (extremely expensive study). He encouraged her to follow her interest not her "sunk costs", and clearly kept an eye on what she was up to.

The point of this story was that a few years later he was contacted by a company looking for a very rare and very specific skill set. They needed a person who was genuinely qualified in the area of medicine she had been pursuing AND law. He was quite smug about being able to say "Well I can think of only ONE person, I'll give you her name."

It's a painful reality that many people don't have the privilege of these kinds of educational choices. And nor do you want to be flip flopping through education never reaching ANY outcomes. But I could not agree more with AEH nothing is wasted, and diverse study interests and background can produce unique skill sets that make you perfect for something you, or other people, may not have imagined yet.

There is a balance that must be found between fruitlessly chasing "Do what you love" and refusing to accept anything other than the one dream (or being confused because you don't have a clear dream career), vs realising that it is definitely better to do something you can be really invested in and build a life around, and being willing to make a change.
Posted by: Aufilia

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/01/20 12:31 AM

I'm in agreement. I have 4 college degrees that are only glancingly related to what I actually do for a living. I got my first job in this by embellishing my credentials and showing a knack for picking up new skills quickly. That was 17ish years ago and I have quite a nice career doing a thing I didn't know existed when I was in grad school. This is, honestly, the sort of successes being a gifted adult gets you in real life.

Quote:
That made me feel like I had to put some effort, but I only did so for my own assignments; when it came to listening to other people's presentations I felt like I "didn't understand anything"; overcomplicated thoughts running through my head; also think that I was feeling quite bored by the subject at times.


Do some reading about "imposter syndrome". When I discovered this was a thing it really changed my whole concept of myself. I now work in a company that has tried carefully to cultivate an environment where people feel say to admit what they don't know, and it's amazing how even the cleverest people I work with, who do great work and ask snappy questions in meetings and so on, really don't actually know more than me.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/06/20 09:54 AM

Hi everyone,
and thanks a lot for the answers, a lot of interesting insights here.

I am definitely moving forward, but still panicking a bit.
I cry a lot and still feel rather desperate. I get stuck with the practical details of how to move on.

1. I am still torn and undecisive concerning completing the ms in psychology. I was hoping to get inspired by a research scientist who is doing research on the applications of machine learning algorithms in psychological research. However he says he has no capacity (also because of covid). Other professors do not answer my emails.

2. My plan for getting bionformatics, for now, would be to somehow start working as a data scientist (if I get to complete the psychology MS one day), make some money, then do a part-time MS while still working. However, I already have some student debt to pay back (7.000 €). A master in bionformatics (online) costs 44.000 € (at John Hopkins) - here in Berlin you need the BS in bioinformatics to get in, which I do not have. So I would need to work at least a few months before I would be able to start studying, and after that it would still take two years. All in all, probably 3 years until I am finished, which makes me 29 when I finish the masters, and 32 if I do the PhD (as for now I believe that I would like to get into research). Kind of a bummer for someone who finished school at 16.


[And If I want to work as a data scientist, I need to study some math first, possibly do an internship before I get a job which could make the whole process even longer].

I am not sure how to approach the whole situation. I have trouble prioritizing what I want to do first.

What seems to be the most important thing to do to you outside observers?
- find a thesis subject? but then how? do some ML project/coding on my own in order to get started and inspired? I definitely feel like self teaching the stuff, but it would take at least some weeks if not months before I get a grasp on algebra, calculus, coding...? settle with something that bores me, but just somehow getting the job done? (I have been pretty bad at this until now - I am very picky about wanting to do something "special" as you can imagine)

- forget about bioinformatics? I do have my reasons for this field (as I am interested in ML/big data stuff, I think this is one the fields with most promising applications that I have decent chances of getting into) but thinking now about something that I could start only in a year or so makes me go nuts.

Maybe you have some quick advice for me.

Thanks,

Raphael
Posted by: Wren

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/08/20 04:30 AM

Can't you take a calculus, though I recommend applied calc, online? There should be a bunch of options. And there are plenty of certificates you can get in data science now and then you could start working in the field while you do graduate work? Though I think you should do as much math as you can. You will need to know math beyond first year calculus. Math will help you with data science. Kings college London does a 4 year B/M degree. It is neuroscience but I think you can choose bioinformatics I think. Maybe they have something for you. In the nearterm, you should be able to start on the math immediately online.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/08/20 08:33 AM

If you need the courses documented, then I would also suggest online college courses. If you just want the skills, then there are even more online resources, which you likely would be able to move through fairly quickly. Check out sites like EdX. They have many of the types of courses you are considering, and can provide varying levels of documentation, if you need certificates or even degrees in specific skills, with content provided by some substantive universities, like MIT and Harvard.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/08/20 03:49 PM

Hi Raphael,

It’s good to hear that you are moving forward. I don’t think you should worry about what age you will be when you reach your destination. The journey itself should be of main importance. If you can keep learning whilst working for a living, then several degrees in a broad range of fields by your early thirties would be a fantastic achievement.

I only finished studying and my last postgrad exam at the age of 33. That was without any real setbacks (there were a couple of unexpected detours which brought me to a slightly different destination, but I certainly have no complaints). Some of my friends failed and had to repeat undergrad &/or postgrad years a number of times, so they were in their mid-late thirties before they finished their studies. They all have successful careers & lives now. We did start our families before we completed studying, so life was hectic, but we certainly don’t have any regrets in hindsight.

Enrolling in a bioinformatics masters without a bachelors degree in the same area is quite a significant undertaking, especially with that price tag, so it would be appropriate to ensure that all the prerequisite knowledge is covered before enrolling and taking on the hefty fees, but as per my preamble, instead of seeing this as a delay, look upon the maths studies (formally enrolled or otherwise) as a journey through interesting territory where only a very small minority of the population will ever venture and enjoy the experience.

Best wishes.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/19/20 09:35 AM

Thanks a lot for the support again. I feel very welcome in this community smile

@ Wren: after a quick search, I haven't found the program at King's College yet. I might after a longer search smile

@ AEH: thanks for the advice. I actually have started learning Linear Algebra with the MIT Lectures by Gilbert Strang but didn't follow through at the time because I was unsure of whether I needed the courses documented or not, and also not clear on which my goal was.

@ Eagle Mum: Thanks for pointing out the necessity of acquiring the prerequisite knowledge. I have been quite bad at planning out things so far, also in my studies. Partly also, as I believe, as a side effect of giftedness and of my history of procrastination and being stuck in my room becoming insane and losing touch with reality. Am still stumbling a bit sometimes there, so I definitely enjoy getting the feedback from all of you.

It is incredible to realise that I might actually be capable of following through with all of this. It might sound overly dramatic, but I am currently tying ends which have (arguably) been lose for the last 10 years, and getting to the root of a suffering that has been going on since my childhood. Still a bit overwhelmed, but getting more happy and less bitter day by day.

I need to do a lot of planning now. I might get back to you for some questions and will update on the success of the operation.

Best,

Raphael
Posted by: aeh

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/20/20 05:35 PM

Originally Posted By: raphael
Still a bit overwhelmed, but getting more happy and less bitter day by day.

I am so happy to see this for you. Life -- as you know better than many -- is full of bumps along the road, but as long as the balance is moving forward bit by bit you can look down that road with hope for a brighter future.

Best,
a
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/24/20 09:15 AM

Thank you! :-)
I have one more thing that has been going through my mind a lot: my dad is also quite obviously gifted, and I suppose that he has had issues at school and with his own path. I know that he was very difficult to motivate to go to school as an early teenager (maybe even before) and barely got his high school diploma. He studied French and pedagogy and went on to become a teacher. He definitely has some passion for his job, puts some love and creativity into projects for his pupils and sometimes talks about theoretical concepts in pedagogy. However, I have alwa ys felt some kind of unease in him, and he definitely does not look very happy when I ask him about how he chose this path. Perhaps even more importantly, I sense a lot of cynicism that I know from myself in him - retracting into yourself when you feel like you don't belong anywhere, shutting up and keeping your ideas and opinions to yourself, being somehow awkward when you communicate. A lot of things that, as I feel, go away or become less when you start embracing who you are, and have enough opportunities/environments for satisfying your endless curiosity and need for stimulation.
However, I do not know how to approach the subject with him. I wish I could share more about some insights I have had in my life so far, but I am afraid of hurting him by confrontation with things that - most likely unwillfuly - he kept buried to himself for a very long time.
If any of you has experience with this kind of situation, I'll happily listen to stories or advice.
[Of course, I might also be a fool for trying to judge the book by its cover, and he might feel very fulfilled.]
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/24/20 12:56 PM

raphael, I'm impressed by the great empathy, awareness, and sensitivity you are expressing toward your father. Might he enjoy joining this forum...? He may find great affirmation and validation in perusing the various topics and threads in this Gifted Adult forum and elsewhere... even if he chooses to remain a private person and not post.

My thought on approaching a delicate topic is that conversation is often well-received if one is sharing something of their own experience... in little easy-to-digest bite-size increments... rather than having a big talk. Whether choosing to share a resource one has come across, a snippet of conversation that resonated, an insight that recently occurred, or even a second-hand story of a friend-of-a-friend... anything that made a difference. If you have an interest in common... history, or music, or fishing, or airplanes, or cooking, or being Mr-Fixit around the house... any small-talk can be a conversation opener and springboard to segue into the planned sharing. If you share something, he may share something.

Before broaching the subject of a parent's path in life, be aware that for many parents embracing who they are may be delayed or deferred indefinitely once a child is in the picture. Indeed, who they are may be forever changed. The sense of duty and obligation to provide for the physical needs of children, and contribute to their spiritual, social, emotional, and mental health may be an overwhelming responsibility... taken on at a relatively young age. Prioritizing family may spur one on to demonstrate a strong work ethic and dedication to a job or career which is noticeably less than ideal and far removed from developing one's potential in other areas. Exploring various careers, or pursuing self-actualization may wait until one is an empty-nester... and may wait even longer if time/energy/health do not permit attention to concurrent projects and/or if funds do not permit early retirement. Sometimes dreams may provide important benefits of diversion and mental exercise even if they are not actively pursued. That said, being a parent can provide a sense of fulfillment, of doing meaningful work, of having an important role, of belonging... without which there can be a void which some may strive to fill by seeking meaningful work in a job or career.

I may have belabored my point, but it was not without intention: Prepare yourself to consider that your dad may have had (or still has) great hopes and dreams but these may have been set aside or put on hold for love of you (and siblings, if this applies). Don't be surprised if you learn he weighed his options and prioritized his resources toward meeting your needs to the best of his ability, rather than focusing on his own. Understand that it can take a lifetime to master one's feelings about the road not taken, even though one is sure they made the best decision, given the circumstances. Put another way, one may still experience bouts of negative thoughts/emotions such as defensiveness, regret, loss, inferiority, or failure, if perceived as being critiqued for not having developed certain neglected aspects of potential. Especially if pointed out by a child for whom the sacrifice was made, as it may sound as though the child is judging the parent as less-than for not being able to do it all, or is ungrateful... either of which may suggest the parent made the wrong choice, thereby adding insult to injury.

Neither of you ought to feel badly about deferred dreams; from his vantage point of years he can relish his dreams and yet feel proud for having prioritized family to the best of his ability, you can appreciate the sacrifice often made by parents. Even in having different life paths, goals, financial budgets, and timing, you can both affirm and validate each other.


Some old sayings:
1) Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.
2) Happiness is a choice.
3) Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
smile
Posted by: Platypus101

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 08/25/20 04:01 AM

You might find the Rainforest Mind blog of interest. Perhaps there is a post in here that speaks to you, that you could share with your father as something *you* could relate too? Talking about your own experiences might be an easier starting place than directly asking about his.

https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/202...e-gifted-adult/

https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/if-im-so-smart-why-cant-i-make-a-decision/
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/02/20 12:50 PM

@Indigo: wonderful answer, thanks a lot!

Btw, I am impressed and thankful for the depth of vocabulary I am being confronted with here wink.

"Especially if pointed out by a child for whom the sacrifice was made, as it may sound as though the child is judging the parent as less-than for not being able to do it all, or is ungrateful... either of which may suggest the parent made the wrong choice, thereby adding insult to injury."

Thanks for this very valid point.

I also tend to have thoughts like "he would have been a better father if he had felt more fulfilled as a person". Your comments help me to understand that, even if I might be right, it is absolutely not something that I should expose to him, directly or subliminally. He did the best he could with what he had, I am quite certain of that.

For the rest:

My dad was indeed rather young (25) - for today's standards, when he had his first child.
I have had and still have more opportunities for self-actualization and self-development than he has had - also thanks to him.
In a way, I sense some unfairness or inequity in him providing me with opportunities that he didn't get.
But that probably is how life works, and one of the main purposes we have - providing future generations with better means of living, or prevent deterioriation.
I can make him proud if I manage to turn all that he gave to me into a good life, and I will have plenty of opportunities and ways to give back.

@Platypus: thanks for sharing the blog with me, it is very interesting smile
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/03/20 06:56 AM

Originally Posted By: raphael
...thoughts like "he would have been a better father if he had felt more fulfilled as a person".
There is a saying which may apply here:
"In a perfect world...!"
smile
Originally Posted By: raphael
providing me with opportunities that he didn't get
...
turn all that he gave to me into a good life, and I will have plenty of opportunities and ways to give back.
At some points, when it feels right and would fit naturally into the moment, you may want to thank him and express your gratitude and appreciation for opportunities he has provided for you. Hearing this from an offspring's heart now and then, may be very meaningful to a parent.

As you continue to make decisions along your life path, please recognize that having one or more positive options to consider is a wonderful privilege to be grateful for. It can be a life's work just to secure opportunity for one's offspring. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons there are many in the world who do not have a positive opportunity or option before them... much less a choice of positive options. Please do not create a weight or pressure on yourself in imaging that you must accurately forecast the optimal path. There are few catastrophes if one looks to find the benefits in each path taken, and focus on those. Even so-called setbacks present learning opportunities, spark self-reflection, introduce the possibility to learn and develop new skills, meet new people, and/or make a lateral move.

What many/most parents want for their child(ren) is for them to cultivate the ongoing ability to experience happiness in life, stability, security, resilience. For many/most parents, their offspring's happiness is what signals success in life... much more than the offspring achieving eminence or excelling in any particular field.

Other forum members may have great tips and advice on analyzing the options before you now. I have only a few sayings echoing in my mind about scientific research in general:
- Science is never settled.
- Correlation does not mean causation.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/04/20 07:44 AM

Thanks again for this great answer.

Originally Posted By: indigo

At some points, when it feels right and would fit naturally into the moment, you may want to thank him and express your gratitude and appreciation for opportunities he has provided for you.


I hope I will be able to do this one day. By that, I mean that by a lot of my actions, I have not expressed my gratitude and appreciation for opportunities he has provided for me. While he was working for financing my studies, I have been using some of his money for going out, buying alcohol or drugs. I was not living a healthy life, not exercising, wasting too much time on watching movies or playing video games. Not so long ago I was still blaming my parents (or others) for my lack of self-esteem, bad habits... I only start to understand how to be truly responsible for myself and my own actions.
-> I hope I will be able to express my gratitude, when I truly feel grateful.

Originally Posted By: indigo

Please do not create a weight or pressure on yourself in imaging that you must accurately forecast the optimal path.


Trying to do that has been causing some dose of suffering, headaches, overcomplicated thinking so far, and I am still learning to focus on the present, not the future (or the past).

Originally Posted By: indigo

Other forum members may have great tips and advice on analyzing the options before you now.

I'll take this as an opportunity to quickly talk about my motivations/aspirations. So since a few years I seem to have been a bit obsessed with the AI/ML/data science conglomerate. In my free time, I would read a lot about the subject. It came to a point where I was completely stuck, because I was seeing a lot of the possibilities that come with the methodology (e.g. biomedical image classification, detection of disease specific fingerprints in the human body (proteomics), applications in humanitarian development such as at https://www.unglobalpulse.org/) and I had kind of lost hope because I didn't know how to get to a point where I might work in a related field, feeling strong guilt about not finishing engineering school, not feeling tough, mature or organized enough to quit psychology, make a fresh start and studying something new.
In my job as a research assistant in social science I had performed a cluster analysis; it took me a while to understand that this was a very first step, that I lack a lot of foundations in mathematics if I wanted to know how to analyse data (-> as a data scientist), and even more knowledge in mathematics and computer science if I want to develop algorithms.
I also saw that there a lot of areas in more advanced mathematics (e.g. topology, differential geometry) than seem to be relevant in certain cases. Intuitively, these are things I would like to explore.
There are also some overlaps with psychology (e.g. human-computer- interaction, human recommender systems...) but intuitively these are, in my "ideal world", not the thing I would be studying. I am simply kind of fed up with psychology.

So this was my main motivation behind bioinformatics. It seemed like a field I would be reasonably interested in - scientifically (and somehow also personally - my mother went through quite advanced breast cancer because it had not been recognized has been diagnosed with breast cancer which got into an advanced stage because the cancer had not been detected) would provide me with first skills in developing algorithms, and would probably give me diverse opportunities after finishing the program - either in gaining a PhD in the field, or working as a data scientist. However, I am still a bit uncertain if it is worth it to go for 2 more years of studying.

In essence, my heart tells me "mathematics. algorithms. find something where you can learn more about this and apply them usefully".

If you have any idea or experience in the field, and maybe have any other ideas where I might go with these ideas, I will happily take them.

If you think this is still me trying to figure out the "ideal path" - please warn me smile.

Best,

Raphael
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/04/20 12:48 PM

It seems to be a gifted trait to want to optimize! For the most part that is a strong, positive trait. What may be difficult for many gifted people to remember is: all things in moderation. Too much of a good thing can become negative.

If the desire to optimize moves beyond a healthy motivation to weigh options and evaluate what is a workable next step given the constraints of reality... and becomes a need or compulsion related to determining self-worth, then it has become detrimental.

The book "What are the odds?," authored by the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, is an interesting autobiographical story of a person who I believe MUST be gifted. I read it with rapt attention and parts of it may resonate with you, too.

If a field interests you, it is worth 2 more years of studying, if real life constraints allow this. If real life constraints do not allow this, move to Plan B. I have always encouraged people to have a Plan B... and a Plan C. Know what these plans are, and know what the triggers/circumstances are for you personally to change from Plan A to Plan B, from Plan B to Plan C, from Plan C back to Plan A, etc. For example, if my parent requires assistance I would offer to dedicate my time and effort to provide his/her supportive care, rather than have him/her living in a facility. If I win the lottery and current realities of financial constraints are removed, then I would _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

Your options and thoughtful reflections on them are very interesting. I fully believe that whatever you choose, you can't go wrong.
smile

Hoping some others chime in with their stories of career path choices, and any advice and tips from what they've experienced.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/05/20 02:41 AM

Thanks again. I can only repeat myself: having great conversations here.

Originally Posted By: indigo
What may be difficult for many gifted people to remember is: all things in moderation. Too much of a good thing can become negative.


I think that I am experiencing a bit of this at the moment. In the last 2 weeks I have been experiencing heart palpitations, dizzyness... Sometimes feelings of detachment from work where it is really hard to say whether they come from my frustration with not working on a subject I find really interesting or meaningful, or maybe one that goes with burnout-like states (and after reading a bit on the subject, I see that I must be careful with this, because of the pattern of being extremely engaged, having high aspirations, then not getting the expected results). I tend to obsess over the "career" subject also on weekends, which is probably not a good thing.
I try to counteract it by things such as relaxing in the evening night/not watching anything arousing, turning the computer off, yesterday I did some PMR, trying to walk and move as much as possible (which can be challenging with the COVID situation), trying to eat more slowly and not doing anything else aside from eating...
(Aside from giftedness, I think that this obsession is also fueled by the the typical stress from the millenial generation, which is having to be someone special, doing special things, the whole FOMO thing... it can get pretty annoying and after having fought with it for a while, I consciously try to detach myself from this as much as possible).

Originally Posted By: indigo

If the desire to optimize moves beyond a healthy motivation to weigh options and evaluate what is a workable next step given the constraints of reality... and becomes a need or compulsion related to determining self-worth, then it has become detrimental.


This was one of the main points from my therapist. "My work is not my worth". Funny thing is, I wasn't even working (or only as an assistant), but I was already so consumed with the idea of having to do something great, or being successful... Emotionally speaking, it is only in the last months that I have truly started to be more relaxed and detached, and even this is still stumbly if you consider the state I've been in in the last 2 weeks as I described earlier.

Originally Posted By: indigo

The book "What are the odds?," authored by the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, is an interesting autobiographical story of a person who I believe MUST be gifted. I read it with rapt attention and parts of it may resonate with you, too.


Sounds like an interesting story smile. I will check that out.

Originally Posted By: indigo

If a field interests you, it is worth 2 more years of studying, if real life constraints allow this. If real life constraints do not allow this, move to Plan B. I have always encouraged people to have a Plan B... and a Plan C. Know what these plans are, and know what the triggers/circumstances are for you personally to change from Plan A to Plan B, from Plan B to Plan C, from Plan C back to Plan A, etc.


That is a good point. I am a dreamer and I have had my issues with real life constraints until now. Also probably typical for the middle-class child who got too much used to his parents providing for him.
(and a bit for the gifted. My imagination can get so vivid, I have spent weeks living in imaginary worlds during university. I was Was also a bit scary sometimes).



Originally Posted By: indigo

Hoping some others chime in with their stories of career path choices, and any advice and tips from what they've experienced.

Also curious to hear about yours if you want to share and think it is relevant! smile

One of my worries for example is that I might be on my way to "overstudying". I might get bored by picking up new "basics" like organic chemistry while I am getting at an age where well, you start feeling like you are able to contribute. I have some experience with doing research work. I am just a bit sad that I kind of trapped myself in studying a subject which in the end, I simply don't care so much about as I expected while it didn't provide me with the skills that I need to do the work I would like to do (as opposite to for example the telecommunications engineer who does a PhD in biomedical image analysis). I wanted to understand my behaviour, more than I wanted to become a psychologist (which is probably the confusion that some people have in the field). Now I've understood enough and I kind of want to move on to something else.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/05/20 11:47 AM

There were a few personal anecodes some pages back, mine among them.

To expand on my own story a little: I went into the first few fields of study for a combination of reasons, including that I was capable of them, that I perceived family expectations as valuing certain fields of study over others, and that I found them interesting to learn about to varying degrees. It turns out, however, that while it is possible to engage in tertiary or above studies with these kinds of motivations and conditions, it is more difficult to maintain motivation -- or to move toward some level of career satisfaction -- without more powerful motivational elements. At least for me.

I also have four degrees (and parts of another--five different kinds), in four (or five) different fields of study. While I work formally only in the last of these fields, I firmly believe that the others enriched my life experience, and contribute to my understanding of others' perspectives, and my capacity to problem-solve creatively.

Understanding your own behavior is a perfectly legitimate reason to have undertaken studies in psychology. Now that it appears you are finding your interest in the field is restricted mainly to understanding yourself, rather than other people, you have obtained what you needed from this stage of your education and whole-person development.

I think another way of framing what you are calling "overstudying" is that you, along with most GT adults, are likely to be a lifelong learner. Some of the topics you pick up to learn may turn out (intentionally or not) to be relevant to the work which pays your rent and puts food on your table, and is identified as "contributing". Some of it may be purely to feed your own thirst for intellectual growth. Neither is more worthy than the other.

And finally, you have value simply because you are. A unique, precious human being--a singularity in history, never to be repeated again. That is enough.
Posted by: Platypus101

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/06/20 02:54 AM

As always, aeh, you get right to the essence of things. Perfect.
Originally Posted By: aeh
Some of the topics you pick up to learn may turn out (intentionally or not) to be relevant to the work which pays your rent and puts food on your table, and is identified as "contributing". Some of it may be purely to feed your own thirst for intellectual growth. Neither is more worthy than the other.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/06/20 06:48 AM

Thank you for expanding on your story aeh, and giving me perspective on my motivations.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/06/20 02:39 PM

One possible antidote to FOMO and weekends of wondering may be experimenting with different hobbies and personal pursuits apart from your career interests.

Many hobbies and pastimes exercise a conscious and deliberate focus relegating other ideas to "the back burner."

Spending time in nature can be very self-nurturing, and may sometimes be paired with exploring photography, sketching/drawing, plein air painting, and/or journaling or logging steps taken, venues visited. Cooking is another activity in which a keen interest may be developed, and this can be related to gardening (growing fresh herbs, spices, produce such as vegetables or fruits). Decorating, landscaping, woodworking, sewing, knitting, crochet, singing and/or playing music are other creative endeavors which can be dabbled in and/or developed over a lifetime. Collecting can also be absorbing... just be sure that your collections will fit in the space you have available. I'm familiar with collections of rocks, shells, vintage baseball cards, miniature books, stamps, coins, and items featuring specific pet breeds.

As a millennial who may have been steeped in an era of educational approaches which may have emphasized collectivism, hobbies and pastimes can encourage reflecting on who you uniquely are, and aid in exercising your personal decision-making, leadership, independence or inter-dependence in a low-stakes arena (away from one's career). This can be a strong antidote to focusing on what others may be doing that you may be missing out on, essentially being a follower.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/08/20 12:53 PM

Good point, Indigo. Thanks for pointing out to all these activities.

I used to do some photography when I was a bit younger, which I actually enjoyed a lot. I have also been a guitarist in a band, and have recently discovered that I might be actually able to play (basic) jazz music, which I had thought to be impossible before.

I also like to cook, though I must admit that I haven't managed to make it a habit lately. I am also fortunate to have a small garden down my balcony, which is a rarity here in the center of the city and have a few vegetables and herbs growing. I even was involved in designing and building a community garden at university. I enjoy nature a lot and have even nearly sent an application for studying environmental science when I was 23.

I though sometimes have trouble to find the right measure in such hobbies. Like a lot of things I do, they tend to "have to turn" into a performance. I "have to become excellent at it", or else "I have failed".

It has been the center of therapy to understand that I cannot be excellent at everything I do. I am still in the process of understanding that it is possible to enjoy doing little things for their own sake, without having to be excellent at it. In the last months I have therefore been feeling grumpy -> "pff.. so boring.. just playing 15 minutes of guitar is nothing compared to being a great jazz musician". But I guess this is part of the process smile.

Developing a sense of thankfulness, which has been a recurring concept in your responses here, is probably one the ideas that will help to continue getting out of this strange sense of frustration and cynicism.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/08/20 01:55 PM

Ah, yes! Being a gifted pluripotent individual has its drawbacks. One is often able to engage in an activity and also provide critique of one's performance relative to a high standard. It can be frustrating, when no sooner is one goal accomplished than striving for another (or several) begins. Striving can be positive or one might feel driven to prove something and unable to turn that off. You've not failed if you've enjoyed the process, the use of your senses... the smell of the soil, the sight of your garden, the taste of your herbs, the sounds of your surroundings and/or your music.

Having a pet such as a dog or cat that will make its needs known, and provide feedback as to how well you are meeting those needs, can be a wonderful experience, as well as providing ever-present reality checks:
- the need to step back from tasks and interact with one who depends on you (thereby exchanging the pursuit of perfection in a hobby for the pursuit of a few moments to "unwind" with a hobby),
- the need to sleep, to budget, to have some semblance of a routine,
- to receive the acceptance, admiration, affirmation, and validation that such pets can bestow.

Although when introduced many people ask about one's career, and may continue to identify people by their career throughout the lifespan, the world economy is rapidly changing:
- computer automation may take over some career fields,
- jobs may be exported to less highly compensated labor markets,
- individuals with visas may move to a country and begin to dominate certain jobs,
- demographic apportionment may play a larger role in hiring and promotion,
- meritocracy, work ethic, ongoing professional development may play a decreasing role,
- governments may begin to pay a uniform wage to all workers regardless of the work they do, under socialism, if supply-and-demand capitalism falls.
Therefore my advice to everyone deciding on a career or seeking a career change, is to consider that taking control of one's life may involve prioritizing being OK regardless of career, career changes, career loss, or possible dictation/assignment of job roles in the not-so-distant future.

Just my 2 cents.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/08/20 02:28 PM

I wholeheartedly agree that gratitude is extraordinarily important.

A few more musings from my life experience: one of my siblings has a profound gift in a particular area, even notable in the context of being globally profoundly gifted. Another of my siblings has been hyperfocused on the profession which they currently practice since well before school age. I, on the other hand, always had many interests, with sufficiently diverse gifts that several of them quite reasonably could have been pursued into excellence. As a young adolescent, I found it challenging to find focus, especially when it seemed that most of my chronological peers and my siblings had such a clear idea of their paths. The meanderings through various post-secondary studies, however, allowed me to come to a better understanding of myself and the value of eclectic, curiosity-led learning, for me in particular.

One of the helpful perspectives that I received from my parents, which was especially helpful during that period, was that there are only so many hours in the day, and so many (unpredictable) years in one's life. These are constraints that we all live with regardless of giftings, and cannot truly defeat (or even stave off, without a very high cost). Which is why it is okay not to "achieve to one's potential" in every field--or even, to some extent, in any field. I was taught to be responsible with my talents, but also to recognize that no one can do everything. There will always (as indigo pointed out so eloquently above) be a road not taken, and that does not have to be a source of deep regret, even if one is occasionally a little wistful. Life, after all, is not a race to the finish; who we are becoming, and those we touch for the better during the journey, are what's important.

And fwiw, I was a far better technical musician years ago than I am now, but I enjoy generating music for its own sake, with all of my flaws, and derive pleasure from the process of itself, and any small improvements that I make (even if they never bring me back to my past peaks). And I think that my joy in the music adds to the pleasure for my occasional audiences.
Posted by: pinewood1

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/18/20 07:32 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
A few more musings from my life experience: one of my siblings has a profound gift in a particular area, even notable in the context of being globally profoundly gifted. Another of my siblings has been hyperfocused on the profession which they currently practice since well before school age. I, on the other hand, always had many interests, with sufficiently diverse gifts that several of them quite reasonably could have been pursued into excellence.


I'd just like to add that even if you have an extreme gift in one area, it doesn't mean that you have to pursue that thing.

I don't agree with everything in this article - I'm an anti-capitalist and I think that the idea that there has to be something you'll find amazingly fulfilling that the market will also reward you for is naive. I think it's wrong that the ideas of life's purpose and money are linked the way that they are. (That's just my view; you don't need to agree.) But I think this part is spot on:

Quote:
So what if your destiny doesn’t stalk you like a lion? Can you think your way to the answer? That’s what Lori Gottlieb thought. She considered her years as a rising television executive in Hollywood to be a big mistake. She became successful but felt like a fraud. So she quit and gave herself three years to analyze which profession would engage her brain the most. She literally attacked the question. She dug out her diaries from childhood. She took classes in photography and figure drawing. She interviewed others who had left Hollywood. She broke down every job by skill set and laid that over a grid of her innate talents. She filled out every exercise in What Color Is Your Parachute?

Eventually, she arrived at the following logic: Her big brain loved puzzles. Who solves puzzles? Doctors solve health puzzles. Therefore, become a doctor. She enrolled in premed classes at Pepperdine. Her med-school applications were so persuasive that every school wanted her. And then — can you see where this is headed? — Lori dropped out of Stanford Medical School after only two and a half months. Why? She realized that she didn’t like hanging around sick people all day.

The point is, being smarter doesn’t make answering The Question easier. Using the brain to solve this problem usually only leads to answers that make the brain happy and jobs that provide what I call “brain candy.” Intense mental stimulation. But it’s just that: candy. A synthetic substitute for other types of gratification that can be ultimately more rewarding and enduring. As the cop in East L.A. said of his years in management at Rockwell, “It was like cheap wood that burns too fast.”

I struggled with this myself, but not until I had listened to hundreds of others did the pattern make itself shockingly clear. What am I good at? is the wrong starting point. People who attempt to deduce an answer usually end up mistaking intensity for passion. To the heart, they are vastly different. Intensity comes across as a pale busyness, while passion is meaningful and fulfilling. A simple test: Is your choice something that will stimulate you for a year or something that you can be passionate about for 10 years?


I doubt I'm as smart as AEH's sibling, but I do have a particular gift on top of being globally PG. I majored in that field (and another). A friend at one of the top universities for that field told me that he didn't know anyone else who was as naturally talented in it as me, with one possible exception.

I didn't go to grad school in that field. I only play around with it these days. I don't regret that at all. It's not my passion. It was "brain candy" for me. It would have burned me out.

I have multiple passions, and multiple interests that don't reach the level of passions. And that's okay. Some people are just what Barbara Sher calls "scanners" (I highly recommend her book Refuse to Choose) and others call "multipotentialites."

Your cognitive profile doesn't necessarily determine what you should do.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 09/19/20 06:53 AM

Originally Posted By: pinewood1
I'd just like to add that even if you have an extreme gift in one area, it doesn't mean that you have to pursue that thing.
I think this is great advice. A gift or talent may be a vehicle which gets one to a place where one sees an opportunity and/or makes a connection (internally or with others) that leads to a change in direction.

Originally Posted By: pinewood1
I'm an anti-capitalist and I think that the idea that there has to be something you'll find amazingly fulfilling that the market will also reward you for is naive. I think it's wrong that the ideas of life's purpose and money are linked the way that they are. (That's just my view; you don't need to agree.)
I don't believe this accurately summarizes capitalism, I believe this misrepresents capitalism. It is my understanding that in the capitalist view, based on supply and demand, one earns money by meeting a need of others. In serving others by meeting their needs, one connects with others, creates a place for themselves in society, and thus finds meaning and purpose in having established that they serve others, fulfill a need, therefore are needed, connected, fit into society, belong.

This is different than being rewarded for something one may find amazingly fulfilling, which is a thought process focused on self, not on supply and demand (aka meeting the needs of others). For example, if one enjoys creating expressive art, one may choose to locate an audience appreciative of their creations and connect with them... or one may choose to pursue their passion as a hobby while also spending time earning a living by creating works which appeal to the mainstream market (or working at a different type of job altogether). The people provide feedback as to how well one is meeting their needs by either purchasing goods (providing monetary income) or not. Under capitalism, one can respond to changes in market conditions (supply and demand) by adapting their price, offerings, location, and/or choosing a different job or career... as opposed to being assigned their employment by the government.

Finding meaning and purpose through connecting with others, meeting their needs, and creating a place for one's self in society is separate and distinct from one's "life purpose" or calling which may not be income-producing. For example, one may be an expressive artist, an advocate, a volunteer, and/or spend time studying the stars, working on solving a complicated math problem, or inventing an anti-alien spacegun.

The information at these links may help provide more insight regarding capitalism:
- https://mises.org/economics-beginners
- https://mises.org/library/entrepreneurship-brings-meaning-and-purpose-life
Originally Posted By: Mises: Economics for beginners
Remember, the purpose of the economy is not simply to work or make money—it is to satisfy our needs and wants as individuals. If no one actually wants or needs an anti-alien weapon, then the money, time, and resources spent on them are wasted, when they could have been used for producing things that people actually want or need.

The opportunity cost is everything else that could have been done with the time, the resources, and the money that are no longer available.


Originally Posted By: pinewood1
Your cognitive profile doesn't necessarily determine what you should do.
More great advice. We are more than the work we do to support ourselves, to earn a living.
smile

raphael, to comment on a few thoughts on your OP:
Originally Posted By: raphael
- related: how much should I push if I feel that this is more who I want to be, rather than a guy generally struggling with consistency in his life? [Because this also means - and I already feel it sometimes - getting distanced from old friends, and wanting to meet new and more "motivated" people.]
I believe in taking opportunities, developing self-discipline to push one's self and see things through. I see persistence and completion as signs of maturity: following through even though one may become tired, experience doubt, etc. People tend to form friendships and alliances when they experience some combination of mutual history of shared experiences, goals, interests, validation and affirmation. Only you know if your desire for new acquaintances has a positive motivation or if it is a lazy shortcut to use people for social climbing.
Originally Posted By: raphael
- how can I be confident about who I am and want to become, and get rid of the labels that go with it (e.g. "I am a nerd, no one likes nerds, etc.)?
Labels will always be there, people put them on others and on themselves to quickly categorize so that thought processes can move along. Consider shrinking the importance and impact of labels, while emphasizing that all people have much in common.
Originally Posted By: raphael
- how do I build back confidence after feeling like I failed at university?
It may have been a failure, or a change in direction. Consider this: What did you learn from it? In answering that question for yourself, you will know if there is more to learn from your choices and/or if you are ready to move ahead and make different choices. Blaming others is not an option.
Originally Posted By: raphael
- how do I become more aware of my needs? I tend to feel obliged to finish a job even if it bores me, instead of more actively taking control of my career. E.g. I could have switched from psychology after the bachelor, but felt like: "I started this. Now I have to finish it".
It sounds as if your needs in this context may be copacetic feelings? To meet that need I would suggest: Acknowledging the constraints of reality and evaluating the trade-offs which exist, weigh each option before you, don't second-guess, then stick with your decision unless/until a change in circumstances occurs which would cause you to weigh your options differently. If your "feelings" change from day to day, remind yourself of your "logic" and that you made the best decision with the information you had available.
Originally Posted By: raphael
How do I tell my boss that I need more difficult assignments?
In a positive manner. For example, emphasize what you have learned, that you are grateful for the opportunity to have done so, and that you believe you are ready to leverage your knowledge base and contribute to solving more difficult assignments.
Originally Posted By: raphael
How do I stop being satisfied with doing "the easy things"?
As with other questions you've posed, the answer may be different for everyone. Some people are risk-averse and may find that doing the easy things in their scheduled obligations (classes, employment, committees, etc) leaves plenty of time and energy for personal pursuits. Other people thrive on risk and challenge, either presented personally or through association with others. People can have both types of opposing feelings, and benefit from finding balance and developing philosophical consistency: authenticity.
Originally Posted By: raphael
introspection
While a bit of self-reflection is good, it is important not to develop a preference for living in your head rather than interacting with the real world and learning to roll with the punches.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 10/01/20 12:27 PM

@ Indigo: thanks for this detailed point by point answering and great counsels. Interesting input. A lot of my points sound naive when contrasted to your answers. Continuing to learn a lot here.

Originally Posted By: Indigo
While a bit of self-reflection is good, it is important not to develop a preference for living in your head rather than interacting with the real world and learning to roll with the punches.


That was a major challenge for me. I remember this moment when I was 24 when I understood that, up until then, I had had no true interest in the real or outside world.
I spent most of my youth wondering how people were so much in touch with reality while the same rules didn't seem to apply to me. Interestingly, a gifted friend of mine told that he has had similar feelings, while I have two other gifted friends that are much more grounded in reality.
I would be curious to learn more about reasons for these individual differences in "groundedness". My two grounded friends have had childhoods where they had to become independent quite early, so that might have played a role. For myself, I also see this that I disappear into my head when I am too frustrated or disappointed with reality. And it is also somehow an act of defiance/sulking.
In consequence, I would imagine that when raising gifted children, you would have to do your possible to get them not only intellectual stimulation, but also physical, and sensory: going outside! Participate in holiday camps, maybe get them to take responsibility in helping others, organizing things...
You basically lose years of your life by staying too much in your head, and day by day I continue and teach myself how to connect with the real world around me.

[quote=Indigo] It sounds as if your needs in this context may be copacetic feelings? [\quote]

I am not sure I understand "copacetic feelings" correctly here. Could you quickly explain?
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 10/01/20 06:01 PM

Yes, unfortunately the real world or outside world can be very cruel to gifted persons, spending much effort "cutting down tall poppies" rather than providing appropriate challenge and intellectual peers. The lack of affirmation and validation can be devastating, for anyone. For gifted children who may tend to be highly perceptive and observant, the onslaught of daily slights and exclusion may subtly or not-so-subtly encourage gradually bowing out from interaction and participation, resulting in the insular experience of living in one's head... unless or until being forced or required to deal with the unpleasant, mundane, and rejection-riddled issues necessary for survival and independence in daily life (such as your friends may have experienced).

Those on the ASD spectrum (for example, those who are high-functioning and with autism) may be naturally inclined to less interaction.

While being outside, engaging in physical activity, camps, volunteering, and organizing events, etc may be useful for helping children become grounded, this may be highly individualized and different for everyone. I tend to think this meet-the-world-head-on approach is beneficial... but it may also be overwhelming for some. I do believe that parents tend to know their children best, and of course they are also attuned to their family budget and realize what may be prudent and what may be a reach, a risk, and/or a luxury.

Although one may feel they have lost years living in their head, the time may also be seen as having been well-spent under the circumstances (for example, writing) and in addition to honing skills, and potentially producing works, the time may have prepared a person to begin interacting more with others on a regular basis... as you appear to be doing.

<< I am not sure I understand "copacetic feelings" correctly here. Could you quickly explain? >> Sure. Glad you asked. smile
Looking back, you had asked how you might become more aware of your needs... I was thinking in terms of defining what "needs" meant in this context... for example (thinking of Maslow's hierarchy of needs) I was guessing that the needs you are speaking of are at the upper levels of the pyramid: needing/wanting/desiring a feeling that you are meeting your potential... that educational attainment and career are fulfilling... in other words: very satisfactory, copacetic. In decades past, I might have added: cool, groovy, winning. Personally, I think that focusing on the middle levels, the daily interactions, adding value, affirmation, validation to IRL relationships may be more rewarding (or fulfill a need) for many or most people: in other words, the middle level may be the pinnacle or peak, and a job or career may simply serve as a means to that end. I do not say this to invalidate your efforts or thwart your plans, goals, and/or dreams. I am just stating what I have observed over the years.

Again, everyone is different, and society benefits from having many different kinds of people, motivated to invest their effort in many directions.

Just my 2 cents.
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 10/02/20 03:52 PM

[I am stealing your idea of embedding URLs in my text. I think it is pretty "cool, groovy, winning"].

Originally Posted By: Indigo
Although one may feel they have lost years living in their head, the time may also be seen as having been well-spent under the circumstances (for example, writing) and in addition to honing skills, and potentially producing works, the time may have prepared a person to begin interacting more with others on a regular basis... as you appear to be doing.


It may certainly in some cases; and in general, it is probably unhealthy to mourn the lost years too much. [Interestingly, I just stumbled upon this: resilience might be an overlooked, important component of grief.

From my personal experience, I would also add the potentially beneficial effects of (at first, unwillingly) stepping out of usual paths and therefore gaining more freedom in one's choices and independence in the point of view. The time spent in your head can also be incubation time for interesting ideas, or as Sartre presumably put it in the context of drinking alcohol: "I liked having confused, vaguely questioning ideas that then fell apart."

On a more serious note though, I would still argue (crumbily):
However important it is to point out the potential benefits or upsides in one's "lost years", the years might still simply be lost, or at least lived at a decreased quality of life (depending on the case) and that is something that needs to be acknowledged. [I am not saying you didn't]. In the context of other disabilities, efforts have been made to quantify this kind of loss. I've read reports about gifted people ending up stuck at home, being unable to work, barely able to speak, depressed, way into their adult life. And while I have been lucky enough to have the resources - through my education, social background (= middle class), social support, maybe also personality, motivation, grit - to manage myself out of difficult situations, I still feel like I have to be very careful to not lose all structure again.
Considering that profound giftedness might exist at higher rates than expected under the normal distribution (see slide 4 here ) - I haven't checked other sources concerning this subject - I think that we might have a not overly dramatic, but still sensible issue at hand here.

I was definitely not able to write or hone skills in the state that I was in, and I had to (and still have to) go through convoluted ways to get stuff done properly.
But then again, it might also very well be the copacetic feelings speaking here, and me being young and naive, not able to see the more complex intricateness of things, relativizing...

Originally Posted By: indigo
Personally, I think that focusing on the middle levels, the daily interactions, adding value, affirmation, validation to IRL relationships may be more rewarding (or fulfill a need); in other words, the middle level may be the pinnacle or peak, and a job or career may simply serve as a means to that end.


It is a beautiful point you make here. My dad likes to talk about this theory by an Austrian/Jewish philosopher who makes the point that humans find most meaning in relationships. Most certainly interesting work to look into, and even more interesting to put into practice.

From the other side around, chronic depression might be associated with "interpersonal avoidance patterns".
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 10/02/20 05:08 PM

LOL, @raphael, I was thinking of adding "resilience" to my last reply... but needed to move on to take care of other things IRL. Now I see you opening your post with thoughts on the topic of resilience (well, almost opening, after adding some cool, groovy, winning html code).
smile
Interesting synchronicity.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 10/02/20 05:39 PM

Reading and processing the information at the links you provided, @raphael. I'll add to this post bit by bit.

VERY INTERESTING that several commonly accepted practices in grief therapy may even be harmful. For me, this underscores that science is never settled. What is accepted/promoted/believed at one point in time, may subsequently not age well, fall into disfavor, when newer research does not support it. I do prefer the theory that people are naturally resilient, as I find it positive and hopeful, providing something to look forward to: a person can shake the dark cloud of having made a poor decision, or of having been subject to something unfortunate. While I'll leave empirical evidence to researchers in this matter, I'll share that it calls to mind this anecdotal evidence: TV interviews I've watched after a large storm passes through: Counter-intuitively, I see people who were bypassed by the storm complaining mightily about having been inconvenienced to evacuate... while victims of the storm who lost their homes and possessions express immense gratitude at being spared their lives and the lives of their loved ones, and look forward to rebuilding. It seems these are indeed the fortunate ones, as they have gotten in touch with their priorities.
smile

I read your Sartre, and counter with Kant ("What if everybody did that?").
crazy

In reading about the DALY and applying or mis-applying the concept to self and those around me... possibly we are growing younger...? (As we subtract Disability-Adjusted Life Years from our age.)
wink

Regarding getting stuff done properly, someone on the forums has shared a great thought to counter perfection: "Done is better than perfect." So when getting stuff done properly, not all things need to be done meticulously. One can set their own standards... this calls to mind a TV program on organization and storage which recognizes people have different styles or preferences: Clutterbugs.
smile

In reading of << social support... personality, motivation, grit - to manage myself out of difficult situations... being very careful to not lose all structure again >> the MyPillow guy comes to mind. I read his book, "What Are The Odds." He lived very close to the edge... for quite awhile... it could've gone either way for him... fortunately he learned from his risky decisions and chose a better (though no less difficult) path.
smile

In reading the I-Thou theory, certain parts instantly resonate with me, and yet I will raise caution. This idea may be somewhat difficult to convey as everyone has a different knowledge base, so I will quickly lay some groundwork or foundation by sharing two brief observations:
1- Hallmark movies are rather positive and predictable, depicting an idealized and very safe world where one may routinely think positively about strangers, rightly so, and find that very rewarding.
2- Criminal Minds is a TV series in which pure evil and deception masquerade as friendly strangers and neighbors just down the street.
That brief knowledge base imparted, I will share that in my observation and experience, real life is like "Hallmark meets Criminal Minds." Therefore a big part of daily life, and a crucial skill to master, is: establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries. Become open and vulnerable gradually. Trust must be earned over time, as a person states what they will do, and then follows through, in a manner which demonstrates that you can consistently count on them to do as they say and say as they do. They walk the talk. To bottom-line this: Rather than accept the I-Thou theory of thinking positively about a stranger, I would suggest being open-minded to future positive thoughts, after observing/evaluating attitudes and behaviors of a stranger, with the idea of determining how much distance would make the most positive relationship: a little or a lot. Then establish boundaries which maintain that amount of distance.
smile

From my brief reading of the CBASP and making connections to other information over the years, this is my take-away: As devastating as a lack of validation and affirmation may be, it is orders of magnitude worse if coming from one's own family... who are generally thought to provide a safe landing space, but are failing to so (thereby leaving a kiddo with NO safe landing space, no support). A kid in this position may typically not have the words, logic, gumption, and backing to describe the problem and effect a positive change, as all the power rests with the adults in the family. Being powerless, the kiddo develops a pattern of avoiding addressing issues. As the kiddo matures into adulthood, s/he may still feel powerless as they've not experienced practice in negotiating relationships within the family. Therefore they may not have developed skills related to observing/evaluating others, successfully establishing/maintaining healthy boundaries, negotiating give-and-take compromises in relationships, and determining who has earned their trust. Sounds stressful. But on the bright side, these skills can be learned with practice!
eek
Posted by: raphael

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 10/09/20 02:55 PM

Indigo; I enjoyed your response a lot smile
... but haven't found the time yet to answer. Too many real-world things to take care of at the moment to give you an appropriate answer. I will edit and update this post hopefully in the next days
Posted by: indigo

Re: Career/taking control of my life at 26 - 10/09/20 06:59 PM

@raphael - Glad you enjoyed these shared ideas and random food for thought.

Maybe some other forum members will jump in with a few more perspectives, too...?

Meanwhile, may your real-world things be positive, and yield good results!