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Eight Years Of A Disoriented Career Life – Relatable?

Last week, at therapy, we were discussing why I end up taking multiple final decisions with respect to my career choices every two years. This has started to seem like a futile activity now because I keep circling back to the same field that I’m currently in. The goal of the session was to understand why I constantly choose this field in spite of being internally aware that this is not the best path ahead for me in terms of interest as well as ability to perform beyond expectations.

What started as a casual career discussion turned out to be a haunting exploration of my personal insecurities. I’ve partly documented this in my post on Productively Yours titled, ‘Is The Fear of Letting Your Parents Down Stopping You?

However, apart from the fear that I’ll probably let my parents down with picking a field that is conventionally considered to include more people skills than technical know-how, I was also scared that I would become intellectually irrelevant to other people in my life. For the longest time, I believed that my current field is what brings me recognition and the free will of speaking about my interests at length because a person who is held in esteem is also one whose words are held in esteem. Hence, I keep holding on to my current role because it makes me feel that I’m important.

But simultaneously, it makes me feel under confident because I constantly feel like an imposter who is simply going for a mediocre role whereas she would rather be amazing at another field that probably does not have much public adoration. The wait for external validation has been agonizing for me and at this moment, it is just upfront stupid.

Today, I’m 23 and regretful of a cycle of people-pleasing decisions taken for over eight long years of my life. Over and over again. And each time, I manage to convince myself that the recognition that I have right now is more important than following what really interests me.

My therapist gave me this beautiful allegory:

Imagine you’re standing outside a tall tower and you look at the penthouses on the top. Glass building. Terrace embedded. You’d love to live in this house from the outside. You respect this house from the outside.

Now again, imagine the person sitting inside the penthouse. He knows what the others don’t know – that the building is not built on a strong foundation. He lives in fear everyday, scared that some turbulent disaster is going to break his home. He’s not confident of his house because he knows that he’s not safe in there. It’s probably a good investment to show-off to others but not a good one if you want a good night’s sleep.

I am the person inside that penthouse.

I have built my career on a weak foundation, on decisions that were based out of pleasing others and external validations, not based on values that are actually important to me. My life is constantly disrupted because I can’t feel confident that I’m going to survive this for too long. Life seems to be playing catch-up with me and some day, I might crash because I did not invest time into figuring out what would create a stable base. Because I made decisions based on what seemed to be important and correct to others while I abandoned my own feelings in the process.

My takeaway from my own life is – stop thinking about your life in terms of what is important to others. My mom sits me down sometimes and gives me an inspiring talk on why I should pursue my dreams. I won’t exaggerate, it’s mostly because I have been an expensive kid who has experimented with the wrong choices at the cost of my parent’s hard-earned money. And every year that I tell mom that I’m not confident in my choices, she gets mini a heart-attack. **laughs ominously**

But in spite of my tormenting series of antics with respect to figuring out my career in my 20s, my mom has always been a huge support for me and continues being so. Which is why I think I’ve experimented enough. And I’ve learnt enough lessons the hard way. So here ends the cycle of eight years and here I go, finally stepping out into the world with a goal of making decisions based on what matters to me. Going forward, join me on this journey of saying ‘peace out!’ to whoever has an opinion on “what is supposed to be right for me” when instead I’m starting to actively reflect on what is really right for me.

Love and virtual hugs,


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