I THINK I NEED TO TAKE A GAP YEAR
I’m in matric and because this year has been so unusual I couldn’t make up my mind about the career I want to pursue.
I’d always wanted to become a doctor but with the pandemic I realised how vulnerable doctors are and I’m not sure I have the grit to do what needs to be done if I become one. I don’t want to simply choose something and just go with it because I’m under pressure to make a decision. I want to have passion for the work I’ll be doing for most of my life. I asked my parents if I could take a gap year to give me some time to think about it before I make up my mind. But they seem to think that if I take the year off I won’t go and study at all. What do you think?
- Reynard, email
Dr Louise’s advice
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions in life and should not be taken lightly. Getting a tertiary qualification is also so expensive that it’s not a good idea to start a degree and then drop it because you’ve decided you want to do something else. So it is sensible of you to want to take a gap year rather than rushing the decision about what you want to do with your life. A gap year can be different things to different people. It doesn’t have to mean you’ll be doing nothing – it can mean the chance to explore different avenues.
Make a list of the four top careers you’re interested in and at the start of your gap year find people in these careers that you can “interview”. Prepare questions to ask so you get a good idea of the pros and cons. Ask what it requires not only professionally but also personally and emotionally. Consider what opportunities there are for growth. Then consider your own strengths and weaknesses, think about what’s really important to you, and match this with the information you’ve gathered about the various careers. You could also take some short courses during your gap year – those relating to computers or business or learning an additional language are likely to come in handy no matter which career you eventually choose. You can ensure your gap year is time well spent.
MY SEX DRIVE IS GONE
Before lockdown and the pandemic I was a normal guy – in fact I saw myself as a hot-blooded male. During lockdown I was retrenched and so I didn’t have any income. My girlfriend also left me.
I’m one of the lucky ones though, because I thought it would take ages before I found employment again but I started a new job a little while ago. I’m fortunate in that my skills are scarce and thus sought-after. So things are mostly back on track again – except for my sex drive. I find I don’t have any interest in sex anymore. Although women like me and find me attractive, I can’t get myself to start dating again. What’s wrong with me?
- Rici, email
Dr Louise’s advice
It’s likely you’re experiencing symptoms related to post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from the emotional upheaval you experienced earlier this year. One of the symptoms of this is depression, which can inhibit your sex drive. Often, in the midst of a trauma people are able to hold themselves together and get through it. But once the crisis has passed they start suffering from the effects of the experience – this is PTSD. It can be seen in soldiers after combat, in people who’ve had near-death experiences and survived, and people who have been traumatised by major life events. You need to get professional help. A clinical psychologist can help you to work through the emotions you experienced over the past months due to suddenly finding yourself unemployed, and also the end of your relationship. As these problems are addressed and dealt with, you should find that your libido recovers.
I HATE WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE
Before lockdown I had my own business, so I made the decisions and carried out my plans as I saw fit. I was happy and content as I’ve always been an individualistic person who wants to follow my own path. But due to lockdown I went bankrupt and had to close my business. I managed to find employment recently but am struggling as I now have to report to a manager and follow his orders, even when I don’t agree with them. I’ve already been called in by the manager and told to just buckle down and do as I’m told. How am I going to manage that?
- Derek, email
Count your blessings and be thankful that you’ve found employment in these difficult times. There are many, many people who are not as fortunate as employment opportunities are rare at the moment. It seems you have some issues with authority and therefore struggle to accept orders from others. It might help to consult with a psychologist so you can get some help with understanding where this comes from, how it plays out in your life and how you can deal with it. It’ll benefit you to figure this out – if you don’t, sooner or later, you’re likely to find yourself unemployed again.
It may stem from your childhood, and what happens now is that as soon as someone tries to give you instructions or tell you what to do, the child in you wants to rebel. A psychologist can also teach you how to “package” what you say to your manager so it doesn’t come across as insubordination.
Write to Dr Louise, PO Box 39410, Moreletapark 0044,or email email@example.com.