Lately I’ve been so lost I have no idea what to do. I’m a college student with a baby boy and a baby’s daddy. But I’m still not happy. I want to do things for myself and not have to depend on him or anyone else. I have a great personality and I want to be a professional photographer, but I am not outspoken, I can’t talk to people that I don’t know, and I am extremely shy. The other day I got fired in the middle of a photo shoot because I wasn’t directing the brides maids and groomsmen, I was just shooting. Since then I lost all confidence in myself and my work and I feel useless. What job can I get where I won’t have to deal with people so I can save up a good amount of money and get the hell out of his mother’s house? Please help ...
— Lost Hope
Dear Lost Hope,
Graveyard shift in a warehouse? File clerk for the IRS? Working with people is mostly necessary in any job that doesn’t slowly eat your soul. I used to be horribly pee shy, which is inconvenient at best and painful at a busy bar three rounds in, but I got over it. I simply told myself over and over again as I walked to the bathroom, “I am the alpha dog, I pee where I want.” Eventually I didn’t need the mantra to block out my surroundings, and now I can even talk to someone while peeing.
You will have to learn how to get over your shyness. Best now than later. Pick up a shift at Starbucks where you’ll have to talk to people all the time, or take a public speaking course next semester. If your college doesn’t have a class, enroll at SAC. When I attended, they required a public-speaking, ice-breaker course to receive your associate’s degree. I didn’t take it, but I sit in my little apartment and write advice so I don’t have to talk to people. You could be an advice columnist! Just kidding. I actually work with the public all of the time at my day job.
If you really fear meeting and interacting with new people, it’s time to follow Uncle Mat’s yellow brick road to the therapist or counselor’s office. Because because because of all of the wonderful things that therapy does. Your shyness could be a social-anxiety disorder or some such other delightful term modern psychology has developed. A good therapist can help you do something with that poor self-esteem of yours, as well. It’s not good to feel useless — useless and confused are a fast track to depression.
Your boyfriend knocked you up (not that you’re an innocent victim; we call them condoms, and you can buy them at the local drug store or gas station) and you are raising a kid together while attempting to build a self-sufficient family unit of your own. Allowing him and his family to house and help take care of you may feel uncomfortably dependent right now, but it won’t last forever. You are working toward a goal, and it is good to have help. I understand that living with your boyfriend’s parents and raising your kid there while going to school looks like a horrible situation from the inside, but I bet if you sit down and make a list of benefits, you may find some leverage to adjust your attitude. Focus on school and your degree. This accomplishment will boost your confidence and may even help alleviate your shyness. If the invitation is good for the time you are in school, take advantage of the situation.
Can you contribute to the family with things other than money? Help with the household tasks like laundry, yard work, cooking, and cleaning. You won’t feel like a burden or mooch. Really bust your ass at school and do well so they can see a positive result for their generosity.
Talk with your boyfriend about making a plan and moving out when you’re prepared. Think about your future and talk honestly about where you want to be in two years. Seize control and don’t jump ship at the first sign of land. Make decisions not reactions.
Much love, luck, and a gregarious future,
Your Uncle Mat
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