Dear Carolyn • I am a 19-year-old college student who is home for the summer. At my father's insistence, I found a menial summer job at a fast-food joint. I had been offered a summer research position in my field of study, but my parents did not allow me to take it because it is halfway across the country. While I am upset about the internship, I am absolutely miserable at the job I ended up taking. My co-workers are very nasty, the hours are long and I'm on my feet the whole time, and my shifts are given to me only a few days in advance, thus leaving me with no time to plan fun activities during the summer. I am so stressed out that I am finding it difficult to sleep, and I am extremely depressed. I have tried to find a new job, but nobody seems to be hiring. My dad knows how miserable I am, but when I alerted him that I was thinking of quitting, he screamed at me to the point where I just curled up in my room and cried for an entire day.
Miserable in the Midwest
Dear Miserable • If your father isn't a bully, then he sure is acting like one. And to resolve a situation with someone who is/acts like a bully, your best course isn't to zoom in on the situation itself, but instead to zoom out far enough to address the full scope of the problem. Translation: The solution isn't to fix the summer job, it's to position yourself beyond your father's control. You're a legal adult already, of course, but as a student I imagine you're financially beholden to your dad, thus your need to accede to his wishes on the internship stunningly short-sighted wishes, I should add. Put in a call to your school's financial aid office (and counseling service, if possible; your description of your dad's response looks like emotional abuse to me). Talk to a mentor in your field if you have one, and find one if you don't, to see if there's scholarship money for talented students; that internship suggests you fit that description. Use those unplanned days off to figure out if any combination of scholarships, loans, scrimping and a job during the school year can free you to make your own choices. These concrete actions alone have the power to alleviate a lot of your current frustration.
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