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    This post resonates with exactly how I feel at this moment. Although I’m not attending an Ivy league school, I am still a graduate student at a University, working with high impact people. I’ve spent much of my life working towards this and have made many sacrifices to get here.This was something I thought would interest me. It did at first, but now I feel extremely burn’t out and almost on the brink of failure (although I’m almost done). On one side I feel I should be blessed to recive a funded graduate fellowship and earn a great degree with no cost, but on the other hand I feel extremely unsatisfied and am longing for something different. An issue is that I can’t decide whether I am unhappy simply because I’m burn’t out, or if this is not really the path for me.

    What I reccomend is that you try to sort out why your unhappy. Is it because you feel stressed out or uncomfortable around certain people? Or is it because you’re not interested in your current path and want to try something new. This is often difficult. When feeling stressed you feel hopeless. It could be you would very much enjoy the subject matter you are learning under different circumstances, and may even enjoy a future career in your field, but you are unhappy because you are over-worked and not feeling smart enough. This distinction is important and requires much introspection to fully understand. In my situation I’m unhappy because I’m overworked, and not too interested in my current research- but I feel if I worked under different circumstances and on a different project I may enjoy academics. So in my circumstance it is not that I don’t enjoy doing science and research, it is just he present environment I don’t like. This means that once I’m finished I can pursue something similar, but it a better environment, or study a different topic.

    If you genuinely don’t like what your learning and feel future careers in this field are of no interest than that is ok. If you are smart enough to make it to an Ivy league school, you are surely smart enough to do whatever you want. The key in life is your intent and creativity. If your smart, have a strong drive, you can achieve anything. Try researching other things you want to do in life and see how you can achieve them.

    Afterall, no one really knows what they want until they try it out. If this is a failure, rest assured that you can live your life knowing you have tried this path and are not missing out on anything. You won’t ever be wondering “What if I really took that Ivy league opportunity?” Live with no regrets and do what you want. It is your life and no ones elses.


    Another thing, in addition to Inky, is you should try to sort out whether you are unhappy with the job itself (nature of the work), or your surroundings (coworkers, city you live in, frienship status, etc.). This is very important. Mull over it for a while.

    If after a while you do find it is the job itself you dislike (hate office work, or dislike the kind of tasks you are given) then you should find a new job. Of course this isn’t easy. In this circumstance it is best to get a plan B together- research things you like and see possible careers with those, all while keeping your current job. When you feel you have the necessary funds then take up new education or employment.

    If it is the surroundings that are causing stress, then there are many things you can do. If you feel isolated try to get to know your coworkers better. Sure they may be old, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun. Try going for coffee, or a pint of beer after work, or try getting everyone together for a potluck. Try something that gets you to know everyone. If it’s a mean boss or mean coworkers, let them know how you feel. The key is to find things that interest you and pursue them. If you miss your girlfriend/boyfriend, see if you can transfer to another location more convinient, or quit after a year or two and work in the same field, but in a different workplace that is closer.


    There are several things you should keep in mind:
    1) People often know whether another is being authentic or not. This means that if you deep down are an outspoken person, but try to act tame to fit in (or vice versa) people will know. People know if your trying to be something different or not. I invite you to try this- go people watching some time and after some time (it may be difficult at first) you will begin to see whether someone is authentic or just a “sell-out” I call them. Yes, there are many people that are very outspoken, but so many people try to be a “hot-shot” popular person, that it’s really off-putting. Once you notice this in others you will notice this in yourself

    2) Authentic people are generally more attractive than people trying to be someone else. When you are trying something else people can tell you are dissatisfied with the way you are, and not sure who you really are. They feel uncomfortable. Just be yourself, and more people will be attracted to you.

    3) Lastly, being yourself does not mean trying to find who you are and then being it. Who you are changes all the time, it changes every day. What matters is that you do things the way that feels natural. Even certain things about you that you think are silly, really arn’t silly. If you act the way you want to act people will just find that normal, and look at that as you. They won’t laugh and say you are odd. People will only find you odd if you try to act as something that you are not. Oddness is not how you act, but how comfortable you are with the way you act.

    These things take time, so don’t worry about it. That’s good that you are cutting back on drinking. Live a healthy life style and make sure to do things that keep you happy. Once you are healthy and happy things will seem better and you can act authentically.


    The beautiful thing about life is that we are always learning and experiencing. No matter how old you are you should never lose that spark to keep on learning and enjoying. Many have attributed two causes for despair in life: (1) too much life and (2) not enough life. One could also insert ‘experience’ for life in the above.

    Too much life occurs when you do too much and get burn’t out. Too little is when you are occupied with the drab routine and never try anything.

    I think you may be suffering from “not enough life.” It is easy to get tied up with a job, family, buying thins, etc. Instead, try to bring a spark and wonder in your life. Do you have any hobbies: do you do art, music, writing, reading? Do you do sports? Go out in nature or hikes? Provided you have time, and not consumed by job or family, you should try to do some of these. Even if you don’t have time, try to at least bring a sense of wonder and want to learn in your life. You are never too old to try anything, so try things out!


    I think it is a kind of balance between present and future. Even going to work for a living is doing something for the future- you don’t reap the rewards until the end of the week, or month, or whenever payday is. When you buy groceries you are not doing it to satisfy something now, but to satisfy your hunger in a few hours or a few days. People have to plan for the future to enjoy the present.

    But most forget that the reverse is also true. You must be able to live in the present to plan for the future. The problem with always planning for the future is that once you get there, you go on to plan something else. All plans are a waste unless you can appreciate what you have.

    So with work you enjoy the present moment of the work (if it’s enjoyable work) but make plans to use the money made. With grocery shopping you enjoy the walk up and down the isles, seeing the wonderful produce, and talking, but still plan to make a meal later.

    I think it is just as bad to never live in the present as it is to never do something with delayed benefits. We should try to always do both. Enjoy the activity for what it is, but also recognize the benefits of certain activities for the future.


    I think you should talk with your employer and see exactly what is expected, and talk with other fellow workers to see what they do. I had an internship a few years back that seemed somewhat similar. I would work in a desk for 8hours per day, no scheduled coffee breaks, and expected to eat my lunch at my desk. What I did was understand what my role was and what I had to do. I found out that as long as I met deadlines I would have some flexibility. I would bring a book (I love reading) and would take breaks every so often to do some reading. If it was nice out I would go for a walk. Because I always delivered quality work on time no one really complained about me doing this.

    And guess what… Many other people did this. Even though there was no scheduled breaks, I found out that people would occasionaly go for walks and do stuff at work.

    The truth of the matter is that a shift is happening in the work place. Longer hours and less pay is starting to become the norm. I would suggest you try to find some balance with your current work. Maybe negotiate over a few things. Realistically, they shouldn’t care as long as you are productive. And you are right… you need breaks to be productive.


    I am the exact same socially, and am at a similar age (25). I think there are two things you should consider:

    1) Some people are naturally introverted and some are naturally extroverted. I am introverted, and by your post, I assume you are as well. You know you are introverted if you find large groups of people off-putting, and get drained rather than energized at large gatherings or parties. But… as an introvert you long deep relationships with others. You long to find an individual who can be friends where you really understand eachother. You don’t care for shallow things, and usually find shallow people or mundane conversations boring.

    As an introvert you should realize that this is normal. When I was younger I thought it was natural to be extroverted, and thought something was wrong with me. I would try to be extroverted and often do stupid things. I would say stupid things just to talk, and would go to parties/events just to socialize (even if I didn’t want to go out). A lot of anxiety comes from the guilt of this. You need to realize that it’s ok to have alone time, and don’t feel awkward about being silent. I go to the coffee shop on weekends by myself and have coffee and a cake by myself. I like it that way. I sometimes talk to people if I see soemone I know, but most of all I relax and enjoy my time alone. I go for walks alone and enjoy being outside. Because I enjoy this and don’t feel guilty, I seem natural in public. Someone can look at me and say “Hey, that guy is pretty cool just chillin by himself. He seems like a natural guy.” You will not seem out of place.

    2) Follow Inky’s advice. You can have fun being alone, but don’t let it become a vice. Be open to new conversations. Go to that coffee shop alone, but if someone wants to talk, then talk. Hang out with people one on one. You don’t need to be going to parties or have large groups of friends, just have a few close people you enjoy beign around. After work ask if anyone wants to go for a pint of beer. Maybe make plans to go for coffee on the weekend. Join clubs that have similar activities where you socialize.

    But most of all try to balance the too. oOnly you know your balance.


    I think this is quite normal, as it is something that happens to me. I don’t necessarily dream of someone from a past relationship, but dream of people I know of the opposite sex who I am interested in but know they are either not interested or in a relationship. Like you these dreams are quite affectionate and there is a sense of excitement in these. Sometimes I am the one initiating, and sometimes she is. Strangely, these dreams have nothing to do with sex, but involve some form of kissing, cuddling, etc.

    Dreams are quite complex and there are volumes of books written on them… anything from psychlogical works by Jung and Freud, to spiritual interpretations or even psychic ones. Most commonly (from my experience) dreams usually play things out that we are unsatisfied with. By unsatisfied this means we are either in some kind of conflict, don’t the a solution to a given problem, or are unhappy with the result. By the sounds of your dream you must be unhappy with how the relationship turned out and am secretly hoping you would be still together. This dream shows you still have feelings for her, so your mind is playing out more favourable scenarios. These dreams will keep going until you are either satisfied with this situation (either by accepting how it it or by finding emotional satisfaction otherwise). I know my dreams come because I’m am lonely and unhappy with that situation (hoping I would be with this women instead of being alone). They come and go, depending on my mood.

    If I were you I would spend time to reflect. YEs, you have blocked these out, but your mind is still bringing forth this issue because it is not solved. Blocking never solves the problem, you must confront it.

    That being said- try to look at other dreams in a similar manner. One purpose of dreams (of many many purposes) is to highlight issues that arn’t fully processed. Be aware of what in your life is going on.


    1st response:

    Yes, you can still make gothic music when happy. There is a painter (Beksinski) who is known for very dark work, but is quite content in real life. Some artists who do happy things (like Robin Williams) are quite depressed in life. Mood does not really affect the tone of your work, but I would argue that being happy generally makes you more motivated and thus more effective. Pleasure is important, but I must argue that your pleasure should never take pleasure from others. It is a kind of equivalence law whereby any pleasure you gain should not be overcompensated by displeasure to others. You gave an example of Hitler having pleasure and passion. Hitler, by killing many, denied so many of their own pleasure and thus is not a good pleasure. Human beings have a sense of altruism, where we feel happy when others are happy. So then, why not achieve a source of happiness by helping others. By helping others you don’t have to wallow in their misery, just like a doctor treating a patient doesn’t have to get sick.

    The problem with western society is that we need to feel a certain worth. If we don’t suffer or work for something than we feel we do not earn it. This is a very false conception and I’m glad you have a similar opinion

    Second Post:

    What you say about compassion, and not needing suffering to achieve it, is correct in a way. I would also like to point out that if you have suffered at some point in your life it is much easier to empathize with someone else who is suffering. The thing about suffering, depression, etc. is that it’s not a ‘black and white’ scientific thing you can fully grasp from reading books. Sure you can read about the symptoms and trials of what people are going through, but you still don’t quite grasp what it’s actually like until you go through it. That being said, anyone who is happy generally is a positive influence. So regardless if you’ve suffered or not, I believe a happy person could help out a suffering person.

    It is like being a doctor. Just because the patients are sick doesn’t mean the doctor has to make himself sick to treat them. Though, the doctor still needs to know all the symptoms and causes of why the person is sick. IT is similar when suffering: You don’t need to wallow in despair to help (like you said), but you still need a strong understanding which is difficult to come by.


    Yes, but you still don’t quite grasp what I’m saying. Just because you have a loss of pleasure now doesn’t mean you will have a permanent loss of pleasure. Further, you may develop a sense of pleasure in something else later in life. Not everyone is born knowing what their passions are, but instead discover them through trial and error. You may find something else later in life that gives you a similar degree of passion as to what you once felt in composing. You haven’t found it and don’t know what it is, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’m not suggesting to be pathetic and wallow in sorrow, or to be tough about and accept a loss. I’m telling you to continue on and seek passion in whatever it may be. You are evolving and need to cast off the shell of what you once were to be something even greater. You are growing, and with growth is pain.


    Yes, I partially agree to your statements. Almost any creative endeavor requires a kind of emotional content. Even mundane tasks become easier and joyful to a happy person. It is truly a gift to be someone who can find joy in anything, and therefore be great at anything they do (even sweeping the floor with profound joy is supreme).

    I find myself in a similar situation. I go through bouts of depression. Although I am much better now than I was a few months ago, I still go through cycles. Some days I feel calm and collected, and ready to start the day. Others I feel no motivation and don’t want to move. I notice that on days when I wake up happier my work progresses more smoothly and intelligently than on days when I’m depressed.

    There is no reason why you can’t take breaks in what you do. You can still take up composing later in life once you become more stable. Try to find something else that gives you joy. Depression feeds on the feeling of restlessness and sloth. When you have a strong motivation, or purpose, then you can more easily cope. Do not give up everything just because you are going through a rough time. Do something else, and things will pass.


    I’m sorry, I just skipped to your summary after reading a few paragraphs and seeing how long the post is. Maybe later tonight I will go back and read the whole thing- for now I’ll just say a few things.

    What you mention of ‘pleasure’ is an external pleasure, not an internal one. This means you derive your own pleasure from some sort of environmental stimulus, and not created by your own brain. While the ideals of God, Good, Evil, etc are all subjective, the supreme goal of any intelligence is ‘compression.’ Compression is our ability to take any form of information and get the maximum insight from it. Put differently, compression is how efficiently we understand something. Internal pleasure is always gained from compression. This is precisely why we enjoy things like music, art, science and the like. When you learn something interesting it is interesting because we have the ability to understand it, and in turn give us insight into other matters. Information too complex or too simple gives no please because in the former we cannot comprehend and in the latter we have no use. If pleasure and pain were purely material, then why do you get pleasure from listening to music or learning something interesting? It does not serve to satisfy any base need (ex- food, sex, etc.) This why ‘external’ pleasures are empty. Sex feels good because it satisfies a need to reproduce, but it does not last because it does not serve to compress information. Compression is the higher pleasure and external is the lower pleasures. Similarly, those that donate time to helping humanity serve to satisfy this higher pleasure. By helping others we further empathize with them, and empathy (like art or science) is an internal means to compress.

    Materialism in general cannot justify qualia. Sure colors are vibrations of atoms at certain frequencies, but this is not the same thing as ‘experiencing’ red. The experience is the qualia because it is different than the object. Heat causes molecules to vibrate faster, but this faster vibration is not the same thing as the ‘experience’ of hot. This follows that the perceive is not the same thing as the person perceiving. Try this thought experiment: Think a thought, but simultaneously be aware that your thinking a thought. This is impossible, since you an only do one or the other. You cannot both think ‘red’ and try to be aware that you are thinking ‘red’. As soon as you pay attention to your thoughts they are gone. These two arguments, qualia and perceiving, allude to something beyond material. I am not saying there is something mystical or godlike, but there is definitely something else. Further, materialism requires you to believe in something outside of the sensory world. You can sense a rock, but do you know for sure that is a rock? How do you know that what you perceive is the same as what there is? This requires an assumption. Because of this assumption materialism is less parsimonious than idealism (the idea that the only thing there is is what we perceive). This is the cornerstone of spirituality.


    It’s amazing that I’m in almost the exact same situation as you. I too am pursuing a masters degree (civil engineering instead of biology) right out of undergrad and am having grief with it. It is a kind of dispair coming from a mixture of pressure from my supervisors to meet deadlines and the tedium of doing the same thing every day in which I have no passion. There have been many times that I considered quitting, but my ego just won’t let me.

    Instead of art I have a passion for writing (fiction) and have this dream of becoming an author. I find the despair of my studies is lightened by me working towards my dream as a writer. Maybe it would help if you worked towards art right now, giving you something positive in your day. I wake up an hour early every day and do my writing while I am still fresh. It makes me much more happier when I start my day because my creativity is flowing and I’m satisfied with some progress.

    As far as studies I’m not sure what to do. It’s slowly moving along so I think I’ll just tough it out. My plan is to find a 9-5 job that will allow me maximum time to write. Maybe after 10 years or so I may be able to quit my day job, but I think it’s important to keep a job while you pursue art. My advice- keep pursuing your passion, but also try to find a low-stress job that gives you money and free time to pursue your dream. Best of luck


    I think what you are facing is an existential crisis. This often happens to really intelligent people, people who’s intellect exceeds wisdom. Your mind is “smart” enough to question such great things, but you lack the “experience” to link together purpose. This is becoming increasingly common as more people scrutinize life. Unfortunately people just scrutinize and never take a step back to experience. Intillects of the west have seen this problem many times, and what they refer to your “disease” is something called dispair. In existential terms, people go through life creating their own identity. A part of this identity is a career or life purpose. You go through life trying to build up towards some grand purpose (ex- a grand career, a grand relationship, a grand involvement in something). Eventually you may find that your grand purpose was not really something you wanted afterall. Maybe you really wanted to have a successful career, but are finding a job gives you less satsifaction than you thought. When this happens you feel “despair,” a feeling that arises when the identity you work towards is not something you want. Economically this is a “sunken cost,” an investment into something that will not pay off. You may spend much time seeking an answer or seeking some job, but find that is not what you want and then you “despair” over wasting time. The root of this problem is that we at a young age strive for some grand identity and only that identity. What we need to recognize is that there is no grand identity we can conceive of without some sort of “wisdom” (experience). When young with no experience we try to create something that’s not what we want. Instead just try to create multiple identities, and over time you may recognize what this grand identity is. Just live on and it will come to you. You just need the experience to enhance “wisdom”, and this wisdom will alight the seed of grand-identity that you are waiting for. Now this is really painful to just wait idly by for that seed to come, but that is all you can really do. It will grow on it’s own. Don’t despair over wasting time, instead realize that this is growing the seed. Even getting a degree in something you don’t like is still helpful, it still serves to reinforce that is not what you want. Now you can go on and try something new.

    Solution? To cope with the above you need a spiritual connection. I don’t mean religion, I mean spirituality. Spirituality is not the same as religion, and although it could involve a deity there are non-deistic spiritual paths. This just means an overall connection- whether that be the cosmos or god, or your own nature. Read a little into Thereveda Buddhism, they deal extensivly with your problem. Try Vipassana meditation. There are religious texts like Inky suggested, but these often just serve the intellect and not the wisdom. The Bhagivad Gita is a good quick read- it is the first text on psychoanalysis. Another figure, Alan Watts, has really good books and youtube discourses that discuss life/death/spirituality/purpose in terms relatable by intellects.

    I face the exact same problem you do. I go through bouts of depression over seeing the point of it all, but when I take a step back I see better. Don’t worry if you get depressed over this, it is quite natural. Just remember that overtime things will work out.


    One idea (I don’t know if you’re into this) is to teach English overseas (Assuming your from US, Canada, UK Australia). All you need is a university degree (of any sort) and sometimes a teaching certificate. I would reccomend this because:
    1) it is a way to travel abroad and still make money
    2) it gives you a bigger perspective on the world
    3) it gives you a break from your previous life to do something totally different

    You sound like you don’t really fit in and want something different to come along. I would suggest doing something outside your comfort zone to grow. Once you grow you may find something that you have a passion for, which makes life much better. The above is only one suggestion, and only applies if you want to travel and like teaching, but look around and see what other things you can do.

    Also don’t feel obliged to anyone for anything. You have your whole life to find a job. Just live your life the way you want to live it and let things fall into place. Once you’re happier socializing will become easier. Naturally people are drawn to positive people.

    Best of luck.

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