Ask Amy

Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 11:44pm

DEAR AMY: I'm a 26-year-old woman with a degree in liberal arts and a job doing data entry for a retail corporation. I moved to a new city a year ago after having lived my whole life in a small college town. I'm having a really rough time here.

I overspent myself into some serious credit debt; I find my job mind-numbing and completely unfulfilling; I miss my parents but have been avoiding calling home for a while because I've come to feel like a failure and disappointment to them; and I haven't been enjoying spending time with the few friends I have here.

I'm just so full of regret, and wish I could start my life over and not make all the mistakes I've made.

I know there are all kinds of changes I need to make, but I don't know how to make them, and I'm pretty sure I'm not particularly smart or talented at anything, so the idea of making changes seems pretty futile and hopeless.

I feel so useless to the world and wonder if it would be better off without me.

Without much money or resources, what can I do?

— Feeling Quite Lost

DEAR LOST: Please realize that part of what you're going through is common for someone your age and at your stage in life, but the other part is not at all normal — and a clear sign that you're depressed.

There's an almost universal feeling many people in their 20s have — when college is over and the real world of data entry and credit card debt hits you like a wall. You can power through this by joining a volunteer organization, exercising or getting involved in your local music scene — all the while whittling away at your debt and applying for more fulfilling jobs.

Then there's the part where your embarrassment is keeping you from reaching out to the very people who love and understand you the most. That's the depression talking, and you need help right away.

Please call your folks. Let it all tumble out. Tell them you're depressed and let them strategize with you about how to get help.

You can contact your company's human resources department. Also, check your health benefits; some plans cover therapy.

If you are in a state of crisis and having suicidal thoughts, call 800-784-2433. Your call will be routed to a local crisis center near you.


DEAR AMY: You responded recently to the mother of a woman who wanted to plan her wedding after the child she was carrying was born.

The mother was concerned that an invitation would be perceived as a "gift grab," and you suggested the couple put "no gifts" on their wedding invitations.

Any mention of gifts on an invitation is improper, whether it is for or against getting gifts. It assumes that your invitation to share a special moment in your life is a request for loot.

Most people can decide whether they would be able to attend such a wedding happily and with good wishes, regardless of whether they choose to acknowledge the event with a gift.

— Faithful Reader

DEAR READER: You are correct that any mention of gifts on an invitation is improper. Some couples suggest "no gifts, please" on their reception response card, or in response to inquiries by prospective guests.

Thanks for the correction.


DEAR AMY: I have been reading your column often lately, and I would like to speak up on the topic of anonymously telling a close friend awkward news.

Many people go too far. I see it most often in the office, where people now use anonymity to air their every annoyance and where their motivations are unclear.

If the complainer's identity would have to be disclosed, only the serious complaints would be entertained.

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Actually, I feel that the office is one place where anonymity could be valuable. This gives people an opportunity to air issues without their job being compromised. It's up to the supervisor to weed out the petty from the consequential.

When it comes to friends, however, I still believe that transparency is best.

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

2 Comments on this post:

By: nashbeck on 8/14/09 at 9:13

To the person "feeling quite lost"-

Please know that you are not alone. EVERYONE at some point in their life feels quite lost, depressed, and trapped. Suicide is the WORST decision you could ever make. You family and friends that love you more than anything and would be absolutely devastated if you were gone. They would take you confessing that you need help over reading your suicide not anytime, any day, anywhere. Please, please don't do this.

There are certain things you can do to make the big city feel a little bit smaller. I know you are on a tight budget, but simple things like joining a yoga/spinning class, join a ballroom dance class, join a gym, or an art class, etc. There you can meet and interact with people and get to know them on an individual basis. From there you can do other activities like go see a movie, a concert, or just have lunch.

The more people you meet... who knows, maybe someone has some great career advice, or has a job opening, or a similar experience.

Finally, go see a professional about getting some medicine. After a few short weeks, you could be feeling like a different person. You have your whole life ahead of you, you just need a few minor adjustments. I'm praying for you, and I hope you find happiness.

By: pandabear on 8/14/09 at 1:28

Feeling Quite Lost:
We've all been there and might have to make another trip.
You already know the answer 'cause you stated it in your letter.
Start over.
It's not about money, etc. it's about how you feel about yourself.
Change your perspective about yourself.
Create an entirely new one.
Call you family.