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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Son Cannot Find What He Wants to Do with His Life

Dear Stavroula,

My son is 25 years old and since he began university studies, he is constantly changing the direction of his studies. He got into a very good and competitive university with great effort and studied there for four years. From the beginning, of course, he told us that he did not like it at all, that it was very difficult, and that he made the wrong choice. At some point, and without having completed his first degree, he decided to leave his school and go abroad to study Business Administration. At first, we tried to persuade him not to, but he insisted and in the end we accepted it, even though we paid a lot for tutoring and later for accommodation, because we said that no matter how we do it, it makes sense at 18 not to know what he wants to do. We supported him going abroad and he started from the beginning there. And while he seemed excited about the new direction, he started telling us that he was not happy with his studies, that from the internships he realized that it was not what he wanted to do, and he wanted to give it up once again just before the end. We insisted for a long time that he continue, we threatened him that we were not going to send more money if he gave it up again, and with a thousand efforts, he got his degree and started a postgraduate course. Unfortunately, he recently announced to us that he is quitting his postgraduate studies, returning to Greece, and that he will work in tourism until he decides what he wants to do with his life. As you can see, this is very difficult for us to manage. I would like your opinion.

Mary

 

Dear Mary,

Many times, when a young person chooses the profession he will follow, his criteria have more to do with his environment and less with himself. This is why he usually chooses professions that have a high social status or the possibility of high earnings in the future, such as an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer. Behind such choices may be the need for acceptance and recognition, or the fear that someone is not good enough to be loved for what they are and need to gain value through their work.

Thus, if choosing a profession is not a conscious choice of a person, but an impulse based on external influences, it may not be successful. The same can happen to someone who does not have self-knowledge – who does not know what he likes and what he does not, who does not know what the strengths of his character are and what his weaknesses are.

Something similar might be happening in your case. Perhaps your younger son did not have the knowledge or self-knowledge to choose correctly what to do with his future. However, growing up, he had the courage and strength not to stay in something that he realized he would not be able to love, despite the fact that he had invested time and effort in it. Because, if this decision is a conscious choice, it requires a lot of strength, determination, and is really a decision to be admired. Not all people have the courage to pursue their dreams, to try to find what suits them, when they have already followed a path that is considered a path to success. One does not easily leave the ‘very good school’ to start the effort from scratch.

And he can do this once or twice and as many times as he needs until he finds what he wants. But with some conditions – one of which is very important is to support himself financially and not to burden others.

So, if your son can work and at the same time study and try what he likes, it is his choice and he has every right to do so.

However, if this behavior is a pattern you already noticed from before university, starting something and then giving up without completing it, if his behavior reveals instability and indecision, or if you believe that his current behavior might be hiding something else, then it would be good to consult an expert.

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