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I'm almost 17 and I don't have a job or a driver's license yet. I feel like such a loser. I realized now I can't exist in the adult world but my times running out. I don't know what to do. Help. I need help so badly. If I don't grow up by 18 I'm fucked. How do I grow up? 

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MisterM -

I think the fact that you have a sense of the realities of the adult world, and the fact that you're not yet equipped to face them solo is in itself a sign of maturity, so that's a leg up, right there. But first,

Here are your statements: I'm almost 17 [therefore you are 16] [...] but my time's running out. [...] If I don't grow up by 18 I'm fucked.

You also state that you don't yet have either a job nor a driver's license, and consider yourself a loser on both counts. I feel I must point out that you have only been able to obtain a driver's license for less than a year (since your last birthday), and the Fair Labor Standards Act prevents you from holding a full-time job until you are 16 years old. In other words, you have given yourself less than a year to reach each of these goals. But what is the actual pressure to reach them?

A great many young adults have opted against becoming drivers simply because car ownership is a significant expense, and also there is now such a thing as Uber and Lyft. Also bicycles. It continually astounds me how many young people have made this choice and therefore claim they are "not mobile" and yet somehow manage to be anywhere they want to go. But I digress. I, personally, had no interest in learning to drive, and had to be coaxed into it by my parents who got tired of ferrying me around. I finally got around to it by the time I was almost 18. A driver's license is not a requirement to be an adult (although it is often needed as a form of identification having nothing to do with driving).

The job - Are you in a situation in which you must find a job? Is your financial situation such that you must make your own income in order to shelter yourself, get food to eat, clothing to wear, power to keep the lights on? Do you need to contribute to your family's income? Do you need to save money for college? (You don't need to answer any of these questions out loud in this forum, by the way.) Or do you simply want to get a job because you feel that only a loser doesn't have one? There are lots of valid reasons for wanting to get a job, but that last one doesn't count among them. There are lots of things you can do with your time that don't involve amassing money (aka The Root Of All Evil) that can be rewarding, fulfilling, contribute to your world, and help you build experience for the adult jungle out there.

Now, let's talk about Time.

A little math here: The average human life expectancy in the United States is around 78 years. 78-17=61 years of life remaining to you after your next birthday, unless you beat the odds and live to be 80 or 90 or some such absurd number and don't get kiboshed skateboarding off a cliff beforehand. But going with the average, that means by your next birthday you will have lived 21.79% of your time on earth, or two-tenths plus change. Two tenths. Looked at from the other direction, this means that from your next birthday, you will have 78.21% of your time left to be an adult - which by formal measures you will not start being for another year when you legally cease to be a minor at 18. And if we push the time forward to that birthday, you'll still have only used up 23% of your days. The point being, You Are Not Running Out Of Time. Unless you're a skateboarder, or own a bengal tiger.

I'm 53. I have two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree, held a career for 30 years, raised two children (7 and 5 years older than you, respectively) have written 13 published books, have modded this board for 15 years, and I still don't know what I'm going to do when I grow up. No, really. And the difference between me and you is, I actually am running out of time. I'm going to have to pick and choose very carefully how I spend the time I have left. But you, young man, are still at the starting gate. You haven't even started running yet, because the starting flag hasn't dropped. You have an entire life ahead, and you've barely stuck your big toe into it - and that means your are exactly where you are supposed to be.

You can do anything. You've been given a fresh life, and you've just opened the box. Take it out and just look at it for a bit. Think about all the things you can do with it. Dream about it. Nobody else can use it but you, so you might as well get everything out of it that you can. It will spit out new possibilities as long as you live, but sometimes you may have to shake it around a little.

You are going to grow up, whether you want to or not, in your own time - but you're going to have to live a while before that happens. Experience is what grows you up, not licenses or job titles. You have a voyage ahead, and ample time to take it. What you don't have time for is worry about whether somebody else thinks you're a "loser" - or indeed, what anybody else thinks of you at all.

Relax. You're fine. Time takes care of itself, by and large.

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5 hours ago, Cerberus said:

The job - Are you in a situation in which you must find a job? Is your financial situation such that you must make your own income in order to shelter yourself, get food to eat, clothing to wear, power to keep the lights on? Do you need to contribute to your family's income? Do you need to save money for college? (You don't need to answer any of these questions out loud in this forum, by the way.) Or do you simply want to get a job because you feel that only a loser doesn't have one? There are lots of valid reasons for wanting to get a job, but that last one doesn't count among them. There are lots of things you can do with your time that don't involve amassing money (aka The Root Of All Evil) that can be rewarding, fulfilling, contribute to your world, and help you build experience for the adult jungle out there.

I want a job because I love money and I'm from a working class family. I hate being restricted by the fact I don't have a lot of disposable income. The things that "you can do with your that don't involve amassing money" is simply impossible for me because I can't afford it. I have to be a realist as I'm growing up and think about the future so I don't become homeless and I pay the bills.

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To get a job, just show up and ask for applications. When you’re looking for the kind of job a teenager gets, it’s not unwelcome. That’s how I got all my jobs when I was young, just going in places and inquiring. I had three at one point during high school (I worked weekday afternoons and weekends) because i liked making money too and had very little growing up. I was a nursing home cafeteria assistant, I worked at a taco stand, and I was sort of an assistant at a pre-school (I filled in where ever I was needed). I had to get my working permit at first because I started working at the nursing home when I was 14. 

Just get out there and start inquiring once this pandemic lets up. 

Also, I don’t drive, nor have I ever. I do well enough. 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, MisterMelancholy said:

The things that "you can do with your that don't involve amassing money" is simply impossible for me because I can't afford it.

Regarding this, I was suggesting things like volunteering for nonprofits or community/public agencies to gain experience while you hunt for paying employment. That way you make efficient use of your time in gaining experience toward your goals. You also never know when getting involved at a volunteer level may lead to a paid position.

Also, in terms of job applications, I am informed that these days a great many businesses don't even take applications from people who come in the door, they just tell you to submit an application online. Apparently the way people like me would have gone about job-hunting as a teen has changed significantly for people today.

One other piece of advice - don't "love money". Never let the money itself become your goal. Money is nothing more than fuel to get you to wherever you want to go. Some people fixate on the money itself and lose track of what they actually want, and never manage to find it. Personally, I despise money - I've seen people make the worst possible choices, tell despicable lies, and do horrible things to other people and themselves for the sake of it. I don't have much money and I have to live pretty frugally, but money still doesn't motivate me in the least. The best target for money as an adult is to have enough - and that's not such a difficult task.

Edited by Cerberus

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I'll throw in a few cents here too... I had volunteer jobs up until I got to college at 18. Then I got a part time work study job in the science department, and eventually a second part time job off campus at a pet supply store.  It was nice to have the extra money. 

Regarding the whole driving and getting my driver's license thing... I was "old enough" to get my license at 16, but I was not mature enough. Just the thought of learning to drive scared me to tears some days, so I got my learner's permit and never really gave it more than a halfhearted attempt until I finished college and moved back home. I didn't get my license till I was 22 or 23. Looking back on things, it was probably better that I didn't have my license cos there was a whole lot of undiagnosed mental health issues and medication issues going on from about 17 till I turned 22.

Everyone grows up at their own pace. I'm 28 now and still have to have a lot of help creating budgets and plans to pay off debts, but I can hold a steady job as a manufacturing biotechnician for a company that manufactures laboratory reagents, clinical chemistry tests, and analyzers. 

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