“I'm Paralysed By Dreams That Feel Too Big. What Do I Do?”

Libbie's ready to leave her industry for something new. But everything she dreams of feels less like a career change and more like 'a total life transplant'. With such big dreams, is there any point even trying? And, on a deeper level, is this so-called obstacle just a convenient disguise for being scared?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm an independent tour publicist working in the music industry.

I work with touring acts and artists to manage all the press and publicity around the tour, press conferences, photo shoots and interviews, autograph sessions, relationship management, that kind of thing.

I worked my way up from an internship with a record label into publicity, and spent a couple of years assisting on tours with a major label before striking out on my own three years ago.

How do you feel about your work?

It's so up and down.

I love the buzz and the energy around the music industry, and the whole sense of organised chaos throughout a tour. I've got to be switched on and on my A-game for weeks at a time, which is exhilarating but can also be incredibly stressful. It's a high-energy, high-stakes environment, and working for myself is very different to being employed by a label. I'm always having to 'perform' and sell myself, and although I'm great at my job and it's not hard to do, I'm also a bit sick of playing the dancing monkey.

I love it, and I hate it, and above all of that, I know it's time to do something different.

I haven't been in a relationship for about six years, because I'm always on the move and I become a bit of a monster when work gets crazy. My flat is always a mess, my fridge never has more in it than a few bits of old cheese and a bottle of wine, and although my friends love hearing about everything that goes on in my job, I also feel like that's pretty much the only thing I have to talk about to them these days. It doesn't really make for much of a friendship.

It was a wonderful experience for my twenties, and with a new decade opening up in front of me, it's time for a new challenge.

What would you like to be doing instead?

You know what? Pretty much anything.

I've realised it's not so much about what I'm doing at any one time that's the problem; it's the fact that I'm doing the same thing all the time. Different artist, same things that have to be done. Tour after tour after tour.

I want a crazy life. I want a big life. I want to learn and do new things and be in different places and tell stories that make people's eyes pop. I want to explore weird little corners of the world and do highly specialised, totally wacky things. I want to become that old lady sitting in the corner of a nursing home, reliving a big, dynamic, fascinating life inside her head and smiling because she's old and dying, but she's got this amazing history to be proud of.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

Everything just feels so big. There are so many things that it's possible for a person to do. And I know that people are out there, doing them, and that means I could do them, too. And yet there are so many things, and so little time, and they're all so interesting...

I have these huge daydreams about working with painters and sculptors in New York City, or teaching dance, or becoming an animal behaviourist working in the jungle, or creating witty illustrations for websites and magazines...

And when I imagine all these possibilities, it's not just my career that has to change; it's my whole life. What I imagine is never just about changing my career, going into a new industry, doing something different from Monday to Friday. It's about being in a different country; I imagine myself wearing different clothes, eating different foods, hanging out with different people...

I know that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. But I don't want just a few bites; I want the whole elephant. And it feels impossible. So impossible, that even taking one bite, doing one little thing to make a small change, feels totally pointless.

It feels like I almost want to be a different person – I want a total life transplant. And that's never going to happen, so I'm left paralysed and miserable.

Someone said to me recently that my big dreams are just an excuse, that I'm actually just a huge scaredy-cat, and this is my excuse for that. I haven't been able to get that comment out of my head. They might have been right; maybe I dream so big because it keeps me stuck, and that's more comfortable than the alternative. It's not as though I'm not good at making things happen!

Maybe I'm too scared to be specific, because if I get specific about what I want, I don't have this excuse any more. Either way, I really don't know what to do right now.

Can you help Libbie?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How can she get over her paralysis?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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