DEAR AMY: I am a millennial, first-generation college graduate from a dysfunctional family. I assumed when I went to college that things would somehow be easier, but they weren't. Looking back, I guess it was a killer combo of burnout, lack of support/mentorship and unresolved issues. Upon graduation with decent grades I was released into the first year of the faltering job market. Since then I have managed to scrape by (and for that I feel fortunate) but never really gain security. I was laid off from my job several months ago, but the thought of getting another 9-to-5 office job literally gives me anxiety attacks. The stress of trying to pretend to be "normal" and robotic to that level is something that I've realized I cannot do. In my earlier days, arts, writing and performing made me the happiest. Sometimes I wonder if things have been so difficult attempting to succeed in corporate America because it was not something I was meant to do in the first place. But acting and writing seem like pipe dreams. I am a 28-year-old woman. Is it foolish just to get part-time jobs until I figure some things out? My student debt makes it impossible to go back to school right now.
--Jaded and Confused
DEAR JADED: Not all desk jobs are staffed by robots. If you work for a company or a cause you believe in and feel that your work is important, having a desk job might be fulfilling. Definitely get part-time jobs while you figure out what you want to do with your life.
One skill you could pick up is to learn to "code." Check womenwhocode.com or udacity.com for meet-ups in your area. I suggest this because you might do well at an Internet startup or small nonprofit. Small companies are popping up with less traditional structures. Working in a more fluid professional environment might not give you an anxiety attack.
Take an improv class. Regardless of how you make your living, improvisation unleashes your creative side and puts you in proximity to other creative people.