Is it too late to change profession at 26?

I am 26 years old, and I feel a little bit stuck in my life right now.

In past 7 years, I have been constantly busy working/going to two universities. When I graduated from my last uni, I got a job abroad, and have been working there for a year and a half. When Covid started, I got let go, and had to come back home.

This was pretty devastating for me, since now I am back with my parents, no job, no money, and no motivation. I started to question myself is what i do REALLY what I want to do? I was thinking of starting an online business, but for years I dont know where to start no matter how many videos, or google pages i go through.

I have been wasting months, literally not doing anything since I am so unmotivated, which gets followed with strong anxiety and what feels like depression.

Before covid, I really thought I finally started doing well for myself, but then when I lost my job, I genuinely dont know how to pick myself up, and what to do. Even though I work in IT industry, I am surprised of how hard it is for me to find a new job.
Is it my skill? Is it me? Is it covid, really?
How do I find motivation to improve my skills, instead of sitting around all day watching Netflix?

I am scared that it is too late for me to do anything, and that I am a failure since at 26 I am back with my parents with 0 dollars in my pocket, and I dont know how to restart or move on.
It feels like there is this overwhelming amount of shame that comes with starting from scratch and being a beginner in something at this age.

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It’s never to late to start something new, don’t look at it so much as starting over, because you’re not starting from scratch. Whatever you decide to pursue, you will be taking your past job and university experience with you and building on. Sometimes in life we have set backs or we change or outgrow what we once were, it’s okay to start something new to accommodate our lives.

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I went back to school at 28 and started a whole new career at 30 and I’m way better off than I was. It’s definitely not too late.

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Hey @tenderkale,

Thank you so much for sharing all of this. I hear that you probably feel lost right now, but you will find your way. You will.

I’m sorry you lost your job with covid. Being in this position feels terrible. I too had graduated, then lost a job that I loved (before covid), a job that made me feel like I was doing something meaningful, that life had a direction. It hurts when it feels like our plans change suddenly, that we end in a situation we didn’t envision at first. Things doesn’t always go the way we want, but it’s a hard way to learn it. My heart goes out to you, friend.

I want you to know that you are not a failure because of the situation you’re in right now. Really, there’s no shame to have. When it comes to jobs and careers, it can be pretty chaotic, full of uncertainties and unexpected obstacles. So feeling anxious is absolutely normal. It’s human. But you are not defeated, okay?

In your title you ask if it’s too late to change profession at 26, and I can only answer: no, it’s never too late. That probably sounds cheesy, but really, it’s never too late. Just an example/little story: when I was studying for my second graduation, I’ve met a woman who was twice my age. She was a childcare worker but because of a bad ear infection she became deaf in one ear, which impacted her capacity to work with group of children again. So she had to start again with something new, but kinda similar too: social work. She was married, she was a mom and asked to have her classes expanded in 4 years instead of 3, so she could compose with both getting back to studies and having a family life. We get along pretty well and as I was myself older than the rest of the students, we often talked about how weird it was for us to be surrounded by young people who have interests in things we didn’t even know, lol. All of this to say… this woman graduated and now she’s looking after a job too. She started again and she reached her goal. Yes, there was a bit of shame of discomfort for her at first… but she did it. And that was truly inspiring.

Now I can’t help but wondering too, while reading your post: do you really want to change profession, or do you think about this because it’s hard to find a job right now? I’m asking because I think those two things are different. And… I’m a very anxious bean too who struggles (and stil struggle) A LOT with the anxiety that goes along with the whole job hunting process. Like, job interviews? Hell on Earth to me. But what sucks with anxiety is that it can make us feel stuck and tempted to find an alternative way… EVEN if it means to sabotage ourselves or miss opportunities. If I listen to my anxious mind, I’d never live and probably never work because I’d keep going to universities and get new graduations in order to maximize my chances to get a job (wrong idea though, as being overgraduated can be intimidating for employers too).

I guess what I’m trying to say is: what do YOU want to do? Let’s imagine that we’re in a world where finding a job would be easy. Would you keep looking after a job in your current field, or would you change for something different? Between those two options, there has to be alternative paths too, without necessarily giving up on your first choices, but also without ignoring the fact that maybe you’d need to diversify your resume (volunteering, online classes to add on your resume…). Just a few thoughts, not telling you what to do by the way.

In any case, you got this friend. If you need some extra help while looking for a job, maybe it would be good to look after a therapist/counselor? I know you mentioned having no money right now - but eventually your parents could help? There’s no shame to have, really. The situation IS, objectively, difficult. And as you mentioned anxiety and what feels like the beginning of a depression to you, then it could be good to be supported for that too. Just because when we’re depressed, it’s not a matter of motivation to do the things. I have a chronic depression yet I want to do a lot of things. But it’s hard to do those things. And being aware of this helps me to be more gentle with myself.

It’s a struggle to find a job and it can push us to reconsider all that we envisioned at first. But I’d say: take your time. Meditate on what is the product of the circumstances and the product of your anxiety/how you feel about yourself or your future. Because the only way to work on the second one is to do things while being anxious. It’s hard. It really is. But it’s also worth it, as it allows you to live your life fully.

You’ll find your way. I believe in you. We all believe in you here. Without any pressure. Only a huge amount of love. :hrtlegolove:

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Of course it’s not too late to change profession! Yes, it might be embarrassing to yourself (i assure you nobody else will find it strange), but if it’s something you need to do then I say make the leap!

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I relate soooo much to everything you’ve said in your post. I want to acknowledge your feelings as so valid and completely normal.
I’m also here to encourage you that I was in the exact same boat as you. 26, living with my parents didn’t even have a real full time job. Felt I was going nowhere. Felt really down. And then decided to start studying all over again and made a HUGE change in direction. I was so scared that I was going to be the oldest in the course and I wouldn’t be able to keep up. To my delight there was one person my age and the rest were in their late 30s-40s and even 50’s! Huge age range of people who felt just like you do now. Wanting to change and do something different in life.
It’s been a wild short few years and so much has changed. You don’t have to feel stuck where you are and you don’t have to pretend to be content with it when you’re not.
Just know there’s no shame relying on people who love you and not knowing exactly where to restart. Covid has probably made it feel a little harder.
What is it you’re wanting to get into? There’s no harm in researching different fields and gathering information and finding something that really brings back a spark to you. Give yourself grace and be proud of where you’ve travelled in life. I genuinely am proud of you for reaching out and for being willing to take that step! Hope you keep us updated with what’s going on, friend!

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@tenderkale
This year has been a really difficult year for millions and millions of people. Don’t beat yourself up for being one of them.
Many are in a kind of holding pattern, waiting to see what is next. There are still many restrictions, and the virus has yet to be contained. Your feelings about this seem very natural and I’m sure felt by many people around the world.
In a somewhat oppressed environment, you’ve developed some issues that you’re openly acknowledging. That seems pretty healthy to me.
We are in a pandemic now, this ‘environment’ is Not your future. This is a moment in time you are living through, an extraordinarily difficult time, so it can’t be good for you to think of this situation as being your future.
I think it is the ‘unknown future’ that we fear, and right now, there are a lot of unknowns, but I would encourage you to be hopeful and have faith that as the pandemic subsides, and the world begins to right itself again, that you will find a much bright future than you perceive now.
Shame is an intensely personal feeling, that stems from how we view ourselves, and I am so sorry that how this pandemic has affected your life is giving you feelings of shame. I would encourage you to speak with your parents about your feelings, as I’m sure they would want to know of your emotional distress.
We all place expectations on ourselves, goals we want to reach, and hopefully we reach those goals, but we have to be prepared, emotionally, for the time when things don’t work. We need to find ways to cope with disappointment and loss, without turning disappointment and loss into a weapon we use on ourselves. When life becomes difficult, is the time to be gentle with ourselves, so we don’t add to the already difficult situation we face. Continue to reach out, continue to share, it’s how we move forward. Ask any of us. Peace

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It’s never too late to change professions. There were people in university classes that were your age and a little bit older that decided to change paths, I knew people that were your age and even into their early thirties that decided to join the military, I have even heard of people in their forties who decided to go to medical school. It’s never too late to change professions and do what gets you fired up. We all have to start somewhere and I’m of the opinion better late than never. Do what makes you happy and do what you think is going to be best for you.

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