21 here, female.
So I Decided I didn’t like the career I got my associates degree for. Can’t afford the bachelors and right out of school interior design pays very low. Too low to pay loans and bills. i signed up to be a union electrician in training and I’m still struggling to get accepted. I’m stuck in a waiting game because I’ve done all I can. My parents don’t like the idea because it’s not a traditional 4 year education and I would be a women in a male domainted field. I feel like this would make me happy though. Working with my hands, good pay, good time off when you top out. My dream has always been to travel.
I’m stuck living with my family (extremely toxic environment) and my partner of four years (not toxic but lives with us. It’s a long story.) And bonus, Covid is still here.
I can’t afford to move out and I hate it here. I feel stuck in my life, like I’m unable to move forward no matter what. How can I help myself emotionally and physically?
I’m 26 and have been in a similar situation for a while now. You definitely have a healthy sense of self-awareness! Many people just go to college or take jobs because it’s what they think they’re supposed to do or it’s just what their parents want for them. Part of being an adult is doing what’s best for yourself, even if others won’t be happy. You have to live with your decisions, so you owe it to yourself to make the best ones.
Go for your career goal! The trades are just as valuable and valid as any four-year degree or career. While you do not have to be married to your first job, you should still be able to enjoy it enough. Take it from someone who used to be a teacher; not everyone wants to go to college and that’s okay. College is not the ONLY route to a successful career. The trades, especially with unions, offer more stability and promise that most corporate jobs wish they could offer. In fact, when those college grads come home from their corporate jobs and experience electrical issues, what will they do? They’ll call you because you’ll know what to do and they won’t.
My generation was told that we all were going to go to college and that was it. There was no room for alternatives. Now that college is unnecessarily and ridiculously expensive, don’t go unless you really want to. We also have a job market with more college grads and not enough jobs for them to do.
What can you do in the meantime? I would say look for any job you can do now while you wait for that trade union electrician job. You have an associate’s degree in interior design, so maybe pick up whatever you can there in the meantime. Do you have to take any tests or anything to become an electrician? Go see if you can find any study materials for that. COVID may make the job hunt really hard, so just do the best you can. See if you can get any apprenticeships or internships if they are necessary. I’m hoping that if your parents see that you’re serious about this, they’ll support you.
If you’re worried about entering a male dominated field, you are one of many women breaking that glass ceiling. You could be entering a company with some of the nicest human beings on the planet! If they fulfill those negative stereotypes, realize that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them not being mature enough to realize that women can do what they do. Their insecurities are not your responsibility to manage.
I found an article about office housework that may be helpful for you:
I brought that up because, even in the corporate world, women are often asked to do tasks that don’t actively do anything for their careers because no one else wants to do them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens in your field as well. It’s more than okay to say “no” to tasks that are far outside your job description (or even just outside of it) because you can be using your time for tasks that are within your description (you know, the stuff you’re actually paid to do).
Speaking of saying “no,” it’s a valuable skill to learn. You are more than allowed to stand up for yourself if your coworkers make any inappropriate comments or “jokes.” Ask them to explain why their comment or “joke” is funny and watch them eat their foot rather than answer your question. You will show them that you have a spine and that they should keep that nonsense to themselves. If they ask inappropriate questions, straight up tell them that you don’t discuss personal matters like that at work or that it’s not workplace talk. Regardless of any bonding activities your boss may have you do (because workplaces want people to learn how to get along, I guess, and not just tolerate each other), you do not have to discuss anything you do not want to with anyone at work.
“I’m not comfortable talking about that with you.”
“I don’t discuss personal matters at work.”
“That’s none of your business.”
“That’s an awfully personal question, one I do not want to answer.”
“Don’t you have work to do? You’re not getting paid to be a stand-up comedian.”
Keep these in your back pocket. You’re allowed to get upset with people if they cross boundaries or make inappropriate gestures or comments or questions. If they hit you with the “iT’s JuSt A jOkE wOmEn HaVe No SeNsE oF hUmOr WhY aRe YoU oVeRrEaCtInG lOl aRe YoU oN yOuR pErIoD” then use the above. Keep logs of these kinds of conversations so you can report them to the right people.
Speaking of standing up for yourself, you said that your family environment is toxic. I’m sorry that’s what you have to deal with. :( It’s no fun being stuck with toxic people without an escape route. You are also allowed to stand up for yourself with your parents; you’re an adult, so show them that they can’t just boss you around anymore. I say show them that you’re serious! Tell them you’ve done the research, you know what to do, and you’re gonna do it. Lean on your boyfriend or friends for the emotional support since it doesn’t sound like your parents will do that. They do have a valid concern about going into a male-dominated field, but how many other women have done the same thing? Tell them, “I’m an adult, so I know I need to live with the consequences of my choices. I’m sure this is for me.” If your parents start playing games with money or housing you, get whatever money you and boyfriend can together and go couch surf, find a shelter, anything. If your family is going to be that petty and abusive, then they do not deserve to have you two around.
Check out Reddit’s The Girl Survival Guide group for more. They often have this topic come up and they have really great advice! In addition, Reddit’s Just No Family group is great for your situation because it offers advice on how to deal with super toxic family members. They have crisis resources and they have some reading material suggestions for you.
Good luck at your new job! I hope everything works out well for you and you kick butt!
Hi, Cass! I relayed your message to Angelica. She'll be answering it shortly!
Hey, Cass!. I'm not one of the peer counselors. I'm a member, here, at Asking Jude. Based on what I've read in your 'ask,' you have very good instincts. The first thing I would want to establish talking to you, if I was some sort of psychologist or psychiatrist, is whether the relationship you have with your partner is good or not. If it's good, then that means that your partner knows what your goals are, what your priority is. The communication between the two of you would have to be good. A peer counselor will get back to you. Good luck to the two of you...