Life's big transitions can be hard to navigate

I am worried about my daughter who is just graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree. She has been looking for a job but there just doesn't seem to be much in her field. The more she looks the more discouraged she gets. She is moving back home and I am not sure how that will go because she really sees it as a step backwards.

I am noticing that she is cranky and is spending a lot of time by herself, which isn't like her. I know she still has some exams, but she usually gets together with friends to study and now she seems to be avoiding them. She also is avoiding talking to us. I want to help her but don't know what to do.

The big transitions in our lives are sometimes difficult to navigate. Your daughter is leaving behind her life and identity as a student and moving into her life as an independent adult. As is often the case, her transition from one to the other is not happening smoothly.

She has not been able to find immediate employment and therefore cannot yet support herself. This is distressing her and it sounds like she is withdrawing from the people who could be supporting her.

It might be helpful for your daughter to understand that change is usually uncomfortable and that people generally do not like uncertainty. Your daughter would prefer to be going straight from university into a job, and the uncertainty of her job prospects are likely causing her to feel anxious. This is very normal.

It might be helpful for your daughter to consider that tolerating uncertainty for a time may be the best thing she can do. Making a quick decision about something as important as a job, just to resolve the discomfort of uncertainty, may not be the best thing for her.

Perhaps she can use this time to further explore the job market and any additional education that she might need in order to obtain employment in the area she would like. Your acceptance of this process, and your reassurance that what she is going through is normal, will likely help her.

It sounds like your daughter may also benefit from considering what her daily routine will look like once exams are over and she has moved back home. She is returning as an adult and so you and she will need to talk about how she takes part in household tasks. Expecting her to join you as an adult will help her feel less like she is moving backwards.

There are some things that you can encourage her to build into her daily life that will help her with the anxiety and distress she is feeling. These include regular exercise and socializing in ways that suit her. Perhaps she can consider working or volunteering even though her position may not be related to her degree. Having a routine is helpful when we are going through changes.

I know that many young people are experiencing difficulty finding work in their chosen fields at this time. I hope your daughter finds her way.

To ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Sara-Lynn Kang at pacific therapy & consulting inc. It appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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