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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018
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Dear Fifi: I fear my life is going nowhere

I’ve made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to.

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I remember one time last year while writing this column, I got a snarky anonymous comment after using a Latin phrase – I can’t even remember what phrase it was now, but more than likely “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” which means “who will watch the watchmen?” I guess it’s that one because it’s one that comes back to me a lot.

My point then was almost certainly the same as now: I haven’t been feeling great lately, which can make me feel somewhat fraudulent in taking on the mantle of trying aid others with their problems.

But when you think about it, there’s no one out there who feels 100% and for whom everything is going just perfectly peachy. We’re all just muddling along, doing our best, taking it day by day. I suppose that’s kind of the point. We’re all in this together. 

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I fear my life is going absolutely nowhere. I was let go recently from a job I loved and am since after finding a new job which I absolutely hate. Outside of work I find myself falling out with certain friends and the less said about my love life the better. I’m 29 and have never been in a relationship longer than three months.

I’m a nice guy but bad luck and disappointment just seems to follow me around. Deep down I’m really quite shy which makes me afraid of becoming a loner down the line. Any advice?

This is going to sound a little harsh until I explain what I mean, but here goes: you need to start taking some responsibility for your life and how it’s going.

Firstly, the job. It’s horrible and confidence-knocking to lose a job you loved. You don’t mention exactly why you were let go. I feel that’s significant. Was it due to redundancies beyond your control? Or is there a lesson to be learnt for you in the job loss? You’ve glossed over this and right into the new job you dislike.

Take the reins here. Figure out exactly why you loved your previous job so much, and funnel this into either making a valiant attempt to improve your current role (or at least make it bearable) or else simply plotting your next move. That’s all very achievable. You once found a job you loved, so I’m confident that you will again. Don’t get mired down in hating your current position – start working towards improving it, by whatever means are possible.

As for romance? Plenty of people haven’t had a proper run by 29! Don’t let that become a stick to beat yourself with.  The spectre of turning 30 looms large for many people, but it’ll happen when it happens. As long as you’re in the right state of mind to let someone in (and are putting yourself in the right scenarios to initially meet people) it’ll come good. But it won’t happen if you don’t try.

What’s more concerning to me in your letter is the way you gloss over falling out with friends and the way you associate the negative, challenging aspects of your life as “bad luck and disappointment following you around”.

It’s not just following you around! Everyone – everyone, everyone – has difficulties. I’m afraid you’re not unique in that. In the grand scheme of things, what troubles you is fixable and you have the equipment to fix it. A lot has to do with how you see yourself and your situation.

I understand it’s tempting to give into self-pity and see life as some juggernaut beyond our control, especially when it’s going wrong. It’s comforting, in a sense, to imagine that our lives are largely something that happens to us rather than by us. But honestly? There are plenty of things you can change that will make you happier, once you start accepting that you’re the one who’s in charge.

Reach out. Ensure friendships don’t wither. Be a friend and accept some responsibility for falling out, because every argument is a two-way street in some way. Don’t isolate yourself. Don’t be down on yourself. Don’t imagine this is all irrevocable in some way. Take charge.

If you fear life is going nowhere, consider it’s because you’ve left it up to nebulous and imaginary forces such as “luck” rather than putting yourself firmly in the driving seat. You can turn this thing around. Just figure out where you want to be, then plan to get there and do your best. It’s only in movies that a beautiful randomer, sweet job and coterie of sound friends just walk into our lives and stay there while we stay perfectly still.

Good lu- oh wait, never mind.

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Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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