“How Can I Be Confident When Everyone Thinks I'm Crazy?”

Ken’s reaching the end of his tether at work. But without the support of his friends and family, he’s also starting to doubt the sanity of his own ideas. What do you do when everyone else’s disapproving voices start to become your own?

What's your career history and current job?

I work in the Business Intelligence Group of a major, well-known investment company.

How do you feel about your work?

I have to take a deep breath every time I walk around the corner of the street my office is on.

I'm miserable. I honestly thought I'd be happy once I qualified, and then when I got my first role, and then when I got promoted – at every stage of the game I've thought the next stage would finally be 'it'. And it never is. It's never what I hoped it would be.

I'm still fairly young, but I already feel like I've spent years playing a game, being some fake version of myself, living someone else's dream.

I’' a big fat liar, is how it feels.

My boss has this very cut-throat approach to our work, which I don't respect, and my colleagues are fine, but they're not the kind of people I'd ever want to associate with by choice. I look at how much time I spend with them and I wonder what it must be doing to my brain.

That all sounds very negative and doom-and-gloom, but it's honestly how I feel.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I don't know the answer to that yet.

I know I love travel, anthropology, exploring other cultures, working in teams, languages, cooking, all that stuff, but I don't know what that translates to as a career yet. I can't seem to get that far in my exploration of it.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

Everyone thinks I'm crazy, basically.

I spent months complaining to my friends about how frustrating I find the law, and, at the time, a lot of them said I should look for something else. But now, they're all sick of hearing me moan about work, and when I try to bring up the idea of a major career change I can feel them rolling their eyes.

And my family – my mum doesn't seem to take it seriously at all. She just smiles and changes the subject whenever I bring it up, and my dad has become progressively more annoyed every time I talk to him about it. He started out suggesting ways to make things better in my current firm, which was supportive of him, but recently he's been getting angry. I think he's frustrated that he paid for my degree, which he was really proud of me for, and now I won't be using it. And he's been so proud of what I do. I wonder what he'd think of me if I threw it all away.

And the doubt I see in people's eyes, and what I hear them say – it makes me doubt my own sanity, too. I see that there are other people out there who feel the same way as I do – who want to find something meaningful and a personal 'fit' – which is a little reassuring, but honestly, it's not enough to make me take any real action.

I feel very alone and unsure of myself, and I don't know what to do.

Am I risking my relationships for a hare-brained pipe dream?

Can you help Ken?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • What can he do to deal with the doubters in his life?
  • Do you know anyone he could talk to?

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