“How Do I Convince Them I'm Not Crazy?”

Mel's been doing some blue-sky thinking, but her family see only rainclouds. How can she follow her dreams without risking her relationship with the people she loves?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm an Accounts Manager for a PR and Marketing agency in south-west London.

I've always worked in this field, but I've been a bit of a job-hopper, moving from agency to agency and company to company. I've been in my current position for two years: the longest I've ever stayed anywhere.

How do you feel about your work?

It's a bit strange, really.

I know what I'm doing at work, and that feels good. I like being the go-to woman for my newer colleagues, and I enjoy interacting with our clients. I get on reasonably well with the people I work with, and I make a decent salary. My job is fine, really.

But it's nothing more than that, and that's slowly starting to be more and more of a problem. I don't really want fine. Fine is boring.

What would you like to be doing instead?

It sounds crazy, but I want to lead tours abroad.

Four years ago I went to Peru for a couple of months on a group tour. There were about ten of us, mostly strangers, and we went from the northern tip of the country to the south, stopping at different landmarks and places of interest along the way.

The guy who led the tour was amazing; he knew about the history of all the places, came out and partied with us, and helped us with anything we needed. It looked like such an amazing way to make a living – meeting new people, learning new things with the tourists, problem solving, and being able to talk about these incredible cultures and stories all day long.

When I think of my dream job, that’s what I keep coming back to.

So, I've started looking into it as a career, and going to Spanish classes in the evenings to build up my language abilities.

What is the biggest obstacle you're facing?

My family think I'm crazy.

In fact, they're quite angry with me for considering it as a career path.

On the surface, they're behaving reasonably and supportively, saying all the right things, but there's an underlying resentment and disapproval that's really starting to come between us. My dad keeps letting little barbs of anger slip out, about how I can't stick at anything, and how, if it all goes wrong, they're going to be the ones who pick up the pieces. My sister's angry too; she's four months pregnant and has been relying on me to help her out when the baby arrives.

I only get one shot at life, and I want to be true to myself, but I don't want to lose my family in the process. Plus, their criticisms make me doubt my own judgement.

What if I really am being irresponsible and selfish?

Can you help Mel?

  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How can she be true to herself without damaging her relationship with her family?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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