Single founder living and working alone – life is hell

Out of school, I started studying for a professional course. It was boring, so I taught myself programming and started selling small online software. Things went well, and I got myself earning ~ $6k a month. I quit studies, moved to a new city, and started working on a startup idea.

My current state, after 6 months of moving: I turned 22. I make decent money from the side-software business – same 6k. The startup is doing so-so. I am getting some customers, but nothing important – much smaller than my side-software business. Work isn’t much. I am a reserved person. I have never been to college. I have no friends. None. I am living in a city where I know no one. I am living and working alone, at home. This is getting very hard for me. I am probably losing interest in the startup too. When I feel good, I can work; when I am depressed, I feel like quitting everything. I don’t know what to do. The city isn’t very metropolitan, so there aren’t really groups or meetups I can go to. Sometimes, I even consider dropping everything and working for someone, just to know what it’s like to be among people again.

Some would think of this as a deam life – freedom, work-from-home, decent money. The same is hell for me. I envy those with jobs and friends. The grass is always greener on the other side.

  • Oh gosh. I’m 45 now, probably a good deal older than most of the people who post to this site, but I empathize with you. I was your age when I dove into living abroad and working in a refugee support agency, far on the other side of the globe. On the flight to the agency, I was elated and, as expected, it was an astounding experience for the first four months. By 8 months in, less astounding. By 10 months, sheer freaking hell. I had no friends, I was working 15 hours a day, I was exhausted, I’d started to hate the other agency workers, I was the only person my age that I knew, and I’d started to resent the demanding neediness of refugees (I KNOW, right? Refugees! That’s how bad it had gotten).

    After a very bad night of weeping and drinking, I ended up in a religious counseling office. I am an atheist. But that was the best damn thing I ever did because the counselor listened to me and then said, “If you don’t call your parents and get a plane ticket out of here, I’m going to arrange to have you medically evacuated for depression and anxiety disorder. That will be embarrassing for you (pause). What would you like to do?”

    I quit my internship and went home two weeks later. Within a year, I had a prescription for an antidepressant (which I’m still on, BTW) a great part-time job, was in graduate school, and met my current spouse. All before you were born!

    So I’m old enough to be your parent . Here’s what I know. The twenties are terribly difficult time of life for many people. You’re in a post-college transition phase, moving into adulthood with all its attendant complexity and responsibility. You shouldn’t BE alone – yet. It’s actually much easier to make that transition if you’ve got friends and a job because transitioning to adulthood is easier when you’ve got the social, financial, and organizational infrastructure to help you become a professional and an adult. You need to build that, and your instincts about getting a regular old job are dead-on.

    Here is my advice: Do exactly that. You’ve gotten everything you can out of this experience and you’ve learned a lesson about your need for social interaction, despite your inclination to be reserved. You’re obviously talented and entrepreneurial and I expect plenty of companies would find that a big plus in a 22-year-old hire. Get your resume together and start looking for that job. Get yourself a mentor and ask that individual how you can spin your entrepreneurial adventure as a killer aspect of your resume. If you’ve got IP that you feel you can sell, go for it. You can also keep your startup as a side gig, if you’d prefer – just make sure your new employer is on the up and up.

    You are not a failure. You have not failed. You are not stuck. You are skilled and articulate. You’re brave and have had tremendous success for a 22 year old person. You will start feeling better as soon as you submit that first resume.

    As you get older, time passes by more quickly. It’s a bizarre feeling. That’s when you begin to realize that life is really very short. Work is only part of life. It’s most gratifying when you’ve bounded its presence in your life – when you set it aside to enjoy a glass of wine with friends, to go for a long run or doze outside on a sunny autumn day.

    It is time to wrap up this experience. Pull up that resume file, now, and start your new life.

  • Have you thought about moving to a more metropolitan area, or back where your family is? If you work from home, should be relatively easy to plan a move.

  • Seriously, go on Craigslist and sublease office space from a small, creative company. Don’t go with a stale executive office space or some boring place (a law firm).

    You will get to meet some interesting people, get out of the house, be more productive and only spend $200-300/mo if you do it right (all deductible too).

    • This is actually a great idea as I myself did it. I found renting an office space (cubicle) from another company was actually more effective social wise than going to something like a co-working space because here you feel like part of the company.

      • Yeah I couldn’t do co-working – those places are (1) too loud, (2) filled with wannabes in need of constant advice, (3) have a fake social culture and (4) are extremely overpriced for what they are.

  • Hey there, as founder and manager of a coworking space, I cannot emphasize enough the importance to be able to connect to a community. In defense of spaces (from the above comment), each space has their own culture comprised of the people there – and if good – stewarded by a coworking ‘manager’. In my space, I’ve been lucky enough to share many troubles (and successes!) in love, money, relationships and business. It can be really tough out there if you don’t have supports in place. Sure, I found a place to ‘work’ but what I got instead was an entire community of people I can call my friends, coworkers, employees and supervisors – the boundaries for these roles blur for better or for worse, but one things is clear, I can get support for the things that help me fight my depression, rejuvenate if I have to or yes, even be depressed if I have to…

  • I’m in a somewhat similar situation, working from home, similar passive income from online software, working on a larger project now, a bit better on the social side but still.

    What I think I will be doing for the next few weeks (and possibly for the long term) is to reduce my work time down to 4 hours a day tops. I will use the remaining of the day to do things about me, like reading, exercising, cooking and also getting more involved in social activities. From the sound of it, if you are an introvert like me, then getting into social activities would be you a bit out of your comfort zone. You can just acknowledge that you are a shy person and begin taking baby steps towards becoming more social. How about setting a goal that you will speak to 7 different strangers on a daily basis, trying to get to know them a little bit better? You can do this any way you like, it has worked for me in the past and I’m sure it will work for others too. The effects will be cumulative as some of your acquaintances will begin to get back to you and you can begin growing your social circle.

    Getting a job? Fuck that.

  • Take a months or more holiday abroad, do a bit of travelling around. Then when you’re back join a co-working space (as previously mentioned) , even if you’ve absolutely nothing interesting to talk to others about you can always fall back on your holiday experiences.

    • Traveling sounds great, but traveling alone really sucks.

      Unless you go to a big city like NY –

      Get an AirB&B room in NY for a couple of weeks and you will me awesome people.

      • Unless you’re a natural outgoing person, NYC can be very impersonal, people aren’t really that approachable there. IMHO a city like Tampa or Nashville would be a lot friendlier.

  • First of all there aren’t many people in the world who can make $6K/month at 22 years old. I sure as hell wasn’t making that much at that age. So congratulations on actually having a real income that early. It’s not trivial for most people.

    I second a trip to a more friendly city. Boston and Silicon Valley are pretty good places to start. Look for events on Meetup where you’ll meet tons of people. Visit some of your friends and ask to be introduced to cool events.

    After that you can consider moving your company, hire more people, grow big, and be social all at the same time.

  • I don’t have any friends. Not sure why as I not weird. However let’s leave that to one side for a sec or acknowledge it to be a factor

    Next thing itp consider is living space

    Right, living and working in it without a clear and i ran totally 100% clear distiction between the two is the awesome challenge.

    The post above about meeting people is the one that most effected me.

    The one thing before doing that though is to totally forget about work stuff. Leave it and forget it and then start the saying hello to someone

    I suppose that is what I must do in the morning

    It is 5 am in the UK where I am

    Maybe I should a place more peanent than a hotel to before I even start that!

  • I guess it is about patience. Holding out. At the same time need to consider having a roof and food and clothing and then see how things pan out.

  • And with that in mind you csm start saying hello so she rogjy away. It is not just am act it is like your first job interview. Right I’ll have a kip and see of I can benefit from this advoce yself

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