Dear Dr Jules
I am a 37 year old man who lives in France with my 2 parents. In the UK I was a chef and thought in France I would find a job easily. I can speak medium French.
I have had a few short season jobs here, but not much. I am fed up with smoking, drinking and just following my parents around. Truth is I am not sure I have the confidence to go back to the UK and have no relatives to go to. I feel stuck in a rut
Reading your letter it sounds like you are feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I can sense your frustration. I am guessing you have a close relationship with your parents if you moved here to be near them? It certainly sounds as though you came to France to find the family you say you don’t have in the UK. However, at 37 you are a long way past the stage of a young adult who is living at home until they get on their feet, and so it is time to launch and leave the nest again to make your own life.
So what do we envisage the average 37 year old man would be doing? Off the top of my head I would say working, seeing friends, dating and finding a partner to make a life with, taking part in hobbies or leisure pursuits, etc. On the plus side you do have a reasonable grasp of the French language, so you could strongly consider making a life in France that would allow you to still see your parents regularly, while building your own independent life. You could also do the same back in the UK where employment might be easier to find, but you are the only person who can decide how important it is to retain that close link with your parents.
Once you have decided which country you want to make your life in, then it’s time to take a deep breath and move forward. Write down some columns with headings such as I suggested (work, etc.) and then list what you need to do to start making progress with each one. With work for example, do you need to step outside of your current skill set and consider what else you can do? Have you visited your local employment office with a current CV and registered for work? Are you willing to travel outside of your local area to find work? Break each column down into steps you can take and then start filling up your calendar with things to do each day to move forward. If you are feeling like your self-esteem has taken a dent then visualize yourself doing well in your future life and focus on your strengths that will take you there.
Ultimately it is time to leave the nest and stop following your parents around, and your frustration stems from that feeling you have deep down that you need to do something about it. So decide which country pulls your heart and then take the first step. I’m sure you have the ability to do it!
If you are feeling stuck with your life and can’t see a way forward, then counselling can be helpful in providing support and a non-judgmental space to explore your options. For more in-depth help and counselling, consider contacting Dr Jules in person