• Daniela Perone, Ph.D.

When you hate your job but you feel stuck

In both my professional and personal life, I am constantly hearing people talking about how much they hate their jobs or careers but often feel that due to the perceived pressure they feel either internally, from partners, both, they can’t entertain the possibility of making a change. So often, people in their 20s and 30s feel resigned to a job, particularly because of the life stage they’re in. In their 20s, they may feel resigned because they are entry level and don’t feel they have “the right” to demand better wages, conditions, more say, greater input, fewer hours, etc. In our 30s, it has more to do with the way we’ve oriented our jobs and careers into our personal lives and daily rhythms. Sometimes there is more at stake. A recent home purchase, a new baby on the way, etc. So much of the life that you created rests on the income that you’ve grown accustomed to from the career you’ve built.

Indeed, our 20s and 30s are a time of feeling like we have something to prove, shouldn’t rock the boat, and we haven’t earned our place enough to demand something more. And we certainly have too much to lose to risk going on our own. The older we get, the stronger that last sentiment. And millennials especially are constantly hearing that they don’t stick something out long enough to see it through, we give up when it is too hard. I hear that often from some of the older generations. Is it true? Well, in my opinion, it’s complicated.

Because here is the thing. We might be resigned to a job or career because of the way it feeds us literally. But there is something that makes the millennial generation unique, in my opinion, and that is, we are a very visionary and idealistic generation. That is our rose and our thorn. Because of idealism, we have difficulties tolerating discomfort and suffering at worst. Suffering of any kind. And sometimes we can get caught up in avoidant behaviors so that we don’t have to feel pain and suffering for prolonged period of time. This to me is the true heart of FOMO (fear of missing out [I’ll save it for another blog post]).

So on the one hand, it could be what I said above in some cases. And on the other hand, our idealism can be the inspiration behind something so much more creative that truly capitalizes on our talents. Indeed, if we actually reached toward our own potential, those crazy ideas you were rattling off about at your kid’s birthday party after a few beers, may not be as outlandish as you think it is. But will you have the guts to actually act on them? It all depends, right? Whether it’s worthwhile or not is your call to make. But I do think we need the space to be able to entertain them properly, without shutting them down for the wrong reasons.

Your passion is your passion. But not all of us were raised to pursue our passions, let alone even know them. Therapy can be a space for you to safely explore what your interests and passions truly are. And if your spouse isn’t supportive of even discussing such things, remember that it might be a scary topic for them if they perceive their survival as attached to your income. That’s why therapy is a better place to explore it first and then talk about how to communicate your needs and desires with your spouse in a way that they can hear. But sometimes the first step is giving those dreams a little air time.


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