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How do I tell my sister I'm concerned about her, without sounding patronising?

(9 Posts)
peeveddoesntcoverit Tue 16-Jun-15 14:36:16

My Dsis and I are very close, but I'm worried she's wasting her youth and I'm not sure how to (or even if I should) mention it.

Basically, she is in her late twenties and has spent almost all her time since leaving school in higher education. She has done various courses, not the same one all this time. This is the thing that's worrying me. She has thrown herself into her education so much that she literally does nothing else. Her housemates have stopped inviting her out because she kept turning them down, she has no hobbies, hasn't had a holiday ever, and doesn't even watch TV because she spends every waking hour studying. She often works through the night. I'm worried she'll turn around one day and realise that she has spent her whole life and has no memories to show for it.

She sees other students going out and views them as slackers. She does get great grades, but she's killing herself to get them.

I've tried to suggest maybe doing an evening class, joining a club, or getting a part-time job, but she always says she has no time or money.

I remember being a poor student myself, but I still had the money for the occasional night out and hobby.

She is working towards a fictional time when she'll have a good job and lots of money to start doing things, but how do I tell her that there is no perfect time to "start life"?

Thanks so much for reading this far! And thanks for any help.

pocketsaviour Tue 16-Jun-15 14:47:28

Maybe you could introduce the old "where do you think you'll be in 5 years time" topic, and kind of drop some wisdom on her that way?

How is she supporting herself btw?

ActiviaYoghurt Tue 16-Jun-15 14:48:23

How much longer does she have in current course? I would plan a fun activity with her for when the course ends.

Maybe a chat about work prospects and when is she going to try to work?

I don't think its a fictional time in the future but more a goal?

wallaby73 Tue 16-Jun-15 14:49:35

Main question : is she happy? If so, leave her be.

shovetheholly Tue 16-Jun-15 14:59:02

I could have been your sister in my late 20s. It sounds as though she is extremely anxious about doing well, to the point that her self-worth is tied up in it to a very great extent. There will be a reason for that.

I think the main thing is to recognise that different things make different people happy, BUT that it's not psychologically risky to place all your eggs in one basket and pin all your hopes on doing well at one thing. Which is essentially what she is doing.

Rather than chat to her about work, which I suspect may go down badly, maybe chat to her about diversifying her activities a bit. There must be things she enjoys outside of academic work, be it horse-riding, cookery, language-learning, whatever. If you can persuade her that she'll be better able to learn and to absorb the information she's trying to learn if she has a break, you may be onto a winner!

peeveddoesntcoverit Tue 16-Jun-15 15:11:42

Thanks so much everyone.

To answer a couple of the questions: she's supporting herself by savings she had when she did work (for a few months) but mostly student loans afaik.
She has a year left on her course, but is already talking about doing another extra year.
And I'm honestly not sure if she's happy. She just seems anxious all the time, and massively freaks out if she gets a grade lower than expected .

I'll definitely try to introduce the idea of taking a break to her, but she sees that as slacking off and hasn't even wanted to entertain the idea in the past.

Thanks again

NorthernLights33 Tue 16-Jun-15 15:26:30

I was like your sister. After I left school I went to university for an undergraduate degree followed by a masters and then a Phd (all in the same field and quite a normal thing to do if you want any kind of career in the life sciences). While an undergraduate I did socialize but while my friends were all spending time with boyfriends I would be studying. Later before starting my Phd I told myself I would take the time to slow down and have a more balanced life, but it never happened. Life sciences Phds can be so demanding that finding the time for meals can be difficult. Now looking back I wish I had done things very differently. Post study, things don't get any less demanding but more so and while others have gotten married and had kids and enjoyed their 20s I feel like I wasted that decade of my life and did it for barely any money.
What I guess I'm trying to say is that I think you should talk to your sister. If a child of mine was going down the same path I would definitely say something. There is so much more to life that one's career. People are supposed to work to live not live to work. And after all that hard work perhaps it will give her the career she wants. But what if it doesn't? She's still got time and it's not too late.
It could be a difficult subject to discuss with her though. Perhaps you could gently let her know that you worry about her and that you don't want her to look back and have regrets?

NoArmaniNoPunani Tue 16-Jun-15 15:29:41

My sister was always like that while I was partying in my twenties. Now she's a millionaire and retired at 40, she's got the rest of her life to party.

peeveddoesntcoverit Tue 16-Jun-15 15:42:12

Thanks NorthernLights, that's exactly what I'm worried about. I think she is putting her life on hold to wait for the perfect time to be social and do stuff, and not realising that there's always something stressful going on at all stages of life. I'll have a casual chat next time I see her, and try to make her see that she needs a bit of balance.

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