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.

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
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.