The Myth of a Calling

imageAlongside the myth of “the One” that our culture espouses, we’re also inundated with the pressure to find, pursue and live out our “calling.” The culture says: “If you’re not living out your dream career, you’re settling. If you have a regular job, you’re not fulfilling your potential. Follow your bliss! Live your dreams! The world is your oyster! Go make it happen!”

That’s great in theory, and I’m all for people living a life that is aligned with their passions, but there are several holes in this philosophy that arise when it shifts from theory to actual life with actual people, like the following:

1. You don’t know what your passion is.

2. You believe that if you changed jobs or careers you would fill the empty place inside of you.

3. You believe that there is only ONE career that is your calling. (For more on this, watch this TED talk.)

4. You believe that your worth is dependent on living your “dream job”, and that if you’re not pursuing or living it, there’s something wrong with you.

Many of my clients struggle because they feel pressure not only to pursue their dream job but to know what their dream job is. They may have some inkling of an idea of what would bring more fulfillment, but it’s not fully formed. And the reality is that even if you know what your dream job is, it’s not always possible or realistic to achieve it – or doing so may come at a great cost.

For example, I have a client who has a good job in finances, but has dreamed about being an anthropologist*. While she doesn’t love the daily grind of commuting into the city and working in an office building all day (she’s highly sensitive-creative-spiritual like the rest of us here), she’s also aware of how many positive factors her current job affords her: a stable income, a consistent schedule, a reliable work community. The “follow your bliss” culture says, “Get out of the office building! Follow your passions! Life is short! Don’t spend it doing something you don’t love!” But it’s not as clear-cut, black-and-white as that. In order to become an anthropologist, my client would have to quit her job, go back to school, and spend five years working toward her PhD, which might likely involve living in someplace like the Amazon or a remote desert for a period of time. That all sounds fine and good until reality comes into the picture. And the reality is that she and her husband just bought a house, she’s in her early thirties and is planning to start a family. Does it really make sense to uproot all of her stability in favor of “the dream job”?

Furthermore, this mindset promotes the belief that if you land in the “perfect” career of your calling, you will finally rise above the pain of life. It whitewashes the reality that life includes pain, and there’s no escaping that. There’s no such thing as a perfect job or career. I have many clients who struggle because they feel pressure to start their own business and are reluctant to walk away from the stability of a consistent paycheck that comes when you work for a company. This is a valid concern, for the reality of running your own business is that it comes with stressors of its own. And I have other clients who have spent their life pursuing their creative passions and are now in the late 30s or 40s and wondering if their time has been well-spent. As one client, who is a creative genius and has spent the last twenty post-graduate years pursing his passion without consistent financial success, said “The Idea of going to an office every day and receiving a paycheck every two weeks sounds pretty great right now. I just want to support my family!” With each decision in life, we must weigh the blessings and the challenges, and ultimately decide which way we want to go while keeping in mind that there’s no pain-free or stress-free solution.

Our culture puts inordinate pressure on us in so many ways. It’s like we’re living in this invisible pressure cooker that’s constantly demanding more and different and better: more money, a better job, a different partner. We may not even know exactly what this more and different and better looks like, but the silent yet insidious message is that we’re doing it wrong in some way, that we’re fundamentally broken and that if we just changed the outside – the partner, the house, the job, the city – we would “ding-ding-ding” get it right and find that ever-elusive dangling carrot of happiness.

I often think about simpler, and probably saner, times, especially around work. I think about how the expectation around work was simply to take over the family business. The blacksmith father taught his trade to his blacksmith son. The tailor passed down his skills and created an intergenerational trade. Or the postman who delivered the mail took pride in the simple task of delivering the mail. There wasn’t any angst about your job or career. You simply followed in your father’s footsteps, or learned a trade that contributed to the small village in which you lived. And that was that. And I have a suspicion that when people lived in smaller, interconnected communities where everyone knew each other, the job was less about the job and more about connecting with neighbors and friends. So the key factors that employment offered were contribution and connection.

I don’t want to idealize the past. I recognize, of course, the limitations for women in this model. I understand that there were sons who didn’t want to be a blacksmith but dreamed of being a priest or rabbi. What then? I realize that this age of infinite possibilities is a double-edged sword: we are free to choose, but inherent in this freedom to choose comes the pressure to get it right. There’s also immense pressure these days to “succeed”, which means that if you’ve landed in a stable, regular job – like working at the front office for a medical company – a job in which you are contributing positively to the world in some way but doesn’t require a PhD, you’re left feeling like you’re not living up to your potential. I’m not sure what that phrase means – “living up to your potential” – but I know it creates a lot of anxiety for many of my clients. Some better questions are: Are you contributing to society in a positive way? Does your work bring you some satisfaction? Do you work with good people with whom you feel connected? Does your work bring stability? A consistent paycheck is nothing to sneeze at, and yet in many circles it’s looked down upon as (and here’s that buzzword we see so often with relationship anxiety) settling

In the end, the path to fulfillment doesn’t come from anything out there. The work is learn to fill the inner well of Self, to know ourselves and like ourselves so that we can trust ourselves, and from that place of deep inner fullness, the world – including relationships, work, home – becomes the canvas onto which we offer our expressions. I’ve said many times that I could see myself doing many different types of work. I could imagine being a yoga teacher. At one time in my life I dreamed of being a midwife. I could stop counseling and devote myself to being a writer. But you see, no matter the canvas, I would still bring myself and my voice to whatever work I did. The work is simply the canvas. We – our deepest Self/soul/whatever you want to call it – are the paintbrush and colors. When the well is full, the rest takes care of itself. And when the well is full, we put a lot less pressure on ourselves to find “the one” and achieve “the calling” as we realize that wellness isn’t dependent on what you do or who your partner is, but on who you are. It’s learning to shift from a doing-achieving mindset to one that places utmost importance on the realms of being and turning inward.

Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting abandoning your dreams. I’m not suggesting becoming complacent and accepting the status quo, especially if you’re in a  job that sucks the life out of you and you have a sense that you could be spending your time in a more meaningful way. And I’m not suggesting that sometimes finding a new job that is a better match for you can create more harmony in your life. (Relationship anxiety sufferers: please don’t apply that last statement to your relationship. Not all statements apply to all situations. Life is more nuanced than that, especially when it comes to our intimate relationship.)

But what I am suggesting is that we embrace the paradox that real change happens most organically when we accept exactly where we are. When we’re judging ourselves and striving for something out there that we think we’re supposed to achieve, we’re operating from that lethal “should” mindset. But when we let go and soften into ourselves, learning truly what it means to live from the inside out, we open vast spaces inside where new possibilities can seed and sprout to fruition. One of those possibilities may be in accepting exactly where you’re at, without needing to change a thing. Another possibility may forging out in a new direction. The work of trusting yourself is learning to discern what is needed at any given point, and learning to make decisions from a clear place inside that derives from a full inner well instead of from an externally-derived set of “shoulds.”

If you would like to learn how to fill your inner well, what I mean what I talk about turning inward, and find your clarity when it comes to making decisions (from relationships to work and everything in between), please join me for my next round of Trust Yourself: A 30 day program to help you overcome your fear of failure, caring what others think, perfectionism, difficulty making decisions, and self-doubt, which will begin on January 9, 2016.


* Client story shared with grateful permission.

66 comments to The Myth of a Calling

  • Bianca

    I love your writing. Thank you for this piece.

  • Savina

    Exactly what I’ve been struggling with for a very long time. I’m finally understanding. Thank you Sheryl.

  • Sonja

    Woohoo! I am so happy you’ve decided to lead the courses for 2016. I can’t wait to start Trust Yourself. What an empowering way to begin 2016. Thank you! Happy New Year, Sheryl! Much love and many blessings to you and your lovely family.

  • odelia

    Hi Sheryl,
    I found your website last night because of something I didn’t even know what. But one thing for sure I’m glad I did. This somehow answered the question I had in mind. Thank you.
    I would really love to participate in the 30-day program. But currently I live in Singapore so it’s less likely I could participate in the live program.


    • The live calls usually work for people all over the world, but if you’re not able to make the calls (only about 1/4 of course participants are generally able to make the live calls), you will be able to ask your questions beforehand and listen to the live recording afterwards. I hope you’ll join us!

  • Sara Schleicher

    This came at just the right time for me. I’m looking into a career change because I haven’t found what I’m doing fulfilling, and there’s so much pressure to get it right! It doesn’t help much that my husband is one of those lucky people who knew what he wanted to do from a young age – ha!

    Thanks for reminding me that I don’t need to put pressure on myself to find a perfect career in order to be fulfilled and happy. I particularly loved the part about your job being your canvas that you bring your creativity to. What a great perspective.

  • Jo

    A great piece Sheryl! I am working in the mining industry and there will probably be redundancies next year. I see a lot of people getting really stressed about this and I understand people have all sorts of commitments like mortgages and kids. But its out of my control and I’d like to think if it does happen, there might be another path for me to explore and that could lead to a whole other journey.

    Better to live authentically and live a life where you feel purpose in your work. Does my sensitive nature lend itself to my role sometimes? Probably not, but for the most part it has helped when managing people and I can use it in other parts of my life.

  • ann

    I wanted to write about the relationship anxiety career anxiety connection. Its funny because for about 7 years now, I suffered from career anxiety. I thought about it daily while at work questioning the paths I chose, praying for a “sign” from god over what career I should have. It was agonizing. I compared myself to others at work constantly thinking they were living their dream. I remember reading any kind of signage, license plates, for a acronym that stood for what career I should pursue. Reading fortune cookies. Even though I had a stable job that I liked, I didn’t think it was enough. At times I was bored. Other times I felt like I could be challenged more. But then again there were many times I found my job interesting too. I even went to psychics over my career path, and they never had any advice for me (only relationship advice which I didn’t want)

    Funny thing was I forgot all about my career anxiety during my engagement, and developed relationship anxiety a few months before the big day. I was in my relationship for 6 years, but never really analyzed it until relationship anxiety hit. Most of that time I spent in heightened career anxiety. I kept asking myself why my relationship anxiety came so late, perhaps my career anxiety was masking it. I went from asking god for “signs for what job to pursue” to “signs if I should really get married or not”. Instead of comparing my career to others, I started endlessly comparing my relationship to others

    This article makes me wonder, is there a connection? Can the ecourse help you find trust in your career as well as your relationship? FYI I have done the engagement anxiety ecourse

    Thank you for such a wonderful piece!

    • Yes one anxiety often masks another one. Ultimately, they all originate from the same place inside that asks for our attention, for our willingness to turn inward and meet ourselves in new and compassionate ways. So, yes, this program will help you find that self-trust you’re looking for in all ways, from career to relationship (and however else the anxiety may manifest), as it will teach you how to turn inward and address the root cause of the disparate anxiety strands.

  • Angela

    How very true Sheryl, we all have dreams but unfortunately due to many things such starting a family, financial. I believe you have to be realistic. There are many people that do make their dreams come true, with being financially able, support, consistent, opptimistic. Its not an easy journey and can be achieved. I also believe what you choose as a career, is what your meant to be doing. Like yourself Sheryl. If your lucky to know what your choice of career is when your young like in your twenties. Then you have the time to study and earn money. Today is me and my husbands 2nd wedding anniversary. I am where im supposed to be with my sweet husband. I cant ask for more than that,, no matter how i feel, if i get anxiety symptoms which i still do. I breathe and I breathe and im ok.
    Happy Christmas and a Happy New year to you all xxxx

    • Yes, breathe and you are okay. Blessings to you, sweet Angela.

      • H

        Haha sorry I pressed submit by accident! I was supposed to say:

        Angela, I love what you said. i agree being realistic is the way forward. I have always been realistic. I wanted to go travelling a while ago but I decided not to because I’d have to leave my job, sell my car, leave my precious boyfriend and possibly start over again when I came back. I didn’t think it was worth the risk! Don’t get me wrong, I would still love to but it’s utterly impossible and unrealistic now that me and my partner are thinking of starting a family soon. Too many people (especially the younger generation) expect to have it all and sometimes you just can’t. Congrats on your wedding anniversary. I’m sure you are doing great. Merry Christmas x

  • Erin

    Sheryl, I stumbled upon your site and am so grateful I found it.. thank you for your blog. I am recently married and often feel a sense of dread/anxiety around whether I made a mistake. It often occurs upon waking up and dissipates after an hour or so, unless I talk about it .. in which case I tend to go down a negative path. Although I am quite successful in my career and enjoy my work, I do struggle with self doubt at work and in my relationship choice. I am curious if the “relationship anxiety” or “self trust” course would be more suitable. Many thanks in advance for your teachings and blog. All the best to you in the New Year!

  • Thinkerbell

    Wow. I just wanted to say thank you. This was just what I needed right now. I will really consider the course.

  • Sarah

    I, for one, am very glad you didn’t become a midwife and continued to be a therapist. I’m eternally grateful for your work.

  • H

    I love this!! I second everything you said Sheryl. For ages my colleagues at work kept pressuring me to move on wth my career (still in the same Company) and do a ‘better’ job that will earn more money. And rightly so, it would be nice to have more money but I have spent so long enjoying the job I am in! Why would I waste all that time I have spent happy and then search for something ‘better’. Just because the money will be better it doesn’t mean I will necessarily be happier. A lot of my friends have just come out of university and are all feeling pressured to find a job in the field they studied and to find there perfect job, but I don’t think they understand why I am doing what I am doing, I mean it’s not a bad job I work in a bank and I do enjoy it but it’s not an amazing job with amazing money and absolutely perfect with no dull moments ever. But it’s a stable job, with stable money that pays the bills, we get time off around christmas, quite a lot of paid holiday and sick days, bonuses every few months and a pension! it’s stable and comfortable and I’d choose that any day, especially in my relationship too!

    Too many people are always looking for the next best thing and a lot of people don’t realise that the repetiveness of a ‘boring’ 9-5 jobs is actually quite comforting. Thanks for this post Sheryl, I enjoyed it.

  • b5126

    I worked in auto insurance for two years and HATED it, but naturally struggled with whether to leave to follow what I believed was my passion (getting a PhD in political science). Many of my same issues came/come up in my new job/career path (and many new ones). While I am much happier in my new job, it is important to remember a big part of the reason I am happier is because I accepted that just because it is something that you dreamed about, doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own set of trade-offs! I had to trade for a lot of things that were beneficial in my old job (a steady paycheck, health insurance, stability, no work on the weekends) for some not so fun trade-offs (graduate school living, student loans, no health insurance, work all the time). It helps to know that its worth weighing the pros and cons and trusting that where ever you end up, there will be challenges and struggles.

    • Yes, exactly. The culture transmits the message that there’s one pain-free, perfect path (career, partner, house), which is a huge part of the problem. When we realize that there will be challenges and blessings no matter what/who we choose, we find more freedom.

  • Tee

    I often agree with your posts, Sheryl and look forward to hearing your thoughts on different life issues but I disagree on this one. For many people, being fulfilled in their day to day work is important, since we spend most of our waking hours at work. I think becoming stressed out and worrying about whether we’re on the right path is a different matter. I agree that for some people, there is no one career that is going to bring them fulfilment, however, for others this is the reality because they truly love and live for what it is that they do.

    I strongly believe that we do, in fact, have a calling, hence we’re all so different and have varying passions, interests and gifts. I don’t believe that a person’s career or job is necessarily tied to that calling as, like you said, it’s who we are that has the impact as we can be fulfilled simply by loving and encouraging others, being great parents and teachers etc, but careers can be the vehicle that enables us to have a positive impact.

    Regarding dream jobs, many people are satisfied just to have a job, whether it’s so that they can provide for their families or other reason but for others, they love their work. I don’t think it’s always about wanting perfection but at the same time, careers and life aspirations are personal matters, of varying importance to different people so I think it’s a little disheartening to dissuade people from wishing to pursue their calling. Personally, working 9-5 all week for someone else doesn’t do it for me (and yes, I’ve been through redundancies) but again, there are people who like the routine of working 9-5 so to me, it’s down to the individual.

    Blessings 🙂

    • I appreciate your comment, Tee, but I think you may have misunderstood many of my underlying points (which is easy to do as this is an incredibly nuanced conversation). If you read the article again, I think you’ll see that we’re actually in agreement with each other! Blessings to you as well ;).

  • Anne

    This was a very helpful post for my husband. I struggled with relationship anxiety and he struggles with career anxiety.

    One thing I hadn’t considered before is how our “callings” might shift throughout life. I was lucky and had a defining moment in college where I knew I wanted to be a teacher. It brought me a lot of joy and meaning. I was SHOCKED when I wanted to become a SAHM after our toddler was born. I’m not sure what my next “calling” will be but for now I am freelance for blogs and that’s “enough” for now.

  • Yvette

    As always, Sheryl, this was a brilliant piece — and artfully timed at year-end, when most may take stock of anything we could alter.

    Sheryl, may you & your family enjoy your special unique inner selves during this Christmas Season.

    PS. Thank you for your Concious Weddings course. It’s a work-in-progress — to train the mind to think differently. It is making a significant difference in my mindset towards my sweet, reliable & constant loving man who possesses many qualities & core values I had hoped. Instead of “putting him gently back in the pond,” gambling to find someone who possesses “it all” (which may bring other challenges) I have realized that the “missing” things are areas where I need to reconcile..not him. ; ) Thank you again.

    • I’m so glad that this article and the course have been helpful. It certainly does take time to re-wire our habitual thinking and learn to create new and positive neural pathways that invite us to move toward love in all forms!

  • Sarah

    One of your best posts ever (in my humble opinion)! As someone, who has followed their passion I can say without reservation that following one’s passion does not always lead to happiness. Something I am learning more and more everyday is that I am responsible for my own happiness, not my partner, not my job, nor anything else.

  • klewis23

    Thank you so much for this! Understanding that my worth did not come from my career path has been such a struggle for me to overcome. I used to have so much anxiety when I would read “inspirational quotes” about following your dreams, don’t settle for less, etc. Recently though, I have been realizing these messages, like the message of finding the one, is just cultural crap. In undergrad and grad school, I definitely fed into the message that I can do whatever I set my mind to (which I truly believe), but it seemed that the message was missing vital parts of the process you must go through to reach certain career goals (or any goal, for that matter). Also, I used to put so much mental effort into having a large-scale “calling” that involved international work. While travel and providing aid in an international setting is something I strive to do at some point, this is no longer my main life goal. Now that I have become more in tune with finding happiness in myself, my need for an outer “extravagant calling” has lessened. However, I do still experience panic from time to time, thinking I’ve settled for less or that I am not as ambitious as I once was – that maybe I’m missing my life calling. I think a lot of the change comes with growing up – realizing not every job will be your dream job and being thankful for where you are and not where you tell yourself you should be.

  • Kay

    Hi Sheryl, I need your help. I never been in a relationship before. I used to like this guy so much, one day he finally asked me if I wanted to be more than friends. I said yes, but later I felt so anxious because at a sudden I couldn’t feel “attracted” to him anymore. So we never ended up being a relationship. He went to work in another country for 1 year, we talked almost every day so i tried to work on it, I read almost all your articles etc. He came back today and it was so weird, I went to see him but I felt nothing towards him, later I felt anxious but I was able to control it better, but I don’t know how to start a relationship with him when I don’t feel attracted to him, I know I like him, and it somehow hurts to think that I won’t be with him. I don’t know if it makes sense, but I don’t know what to do now. Should I keep talking him to see how it goes? Please help me, I’m so confused! Thank you!

  • Newlymarried

    Beautifil, most of my life because I grew up trying to be sn anchiever because we did not have too much I because a fighter and a ” you hsve to keep doing” never stopping or relaxing because then I felt I was not doing anything in my life, then I reslized I was only doing to feel better about my self from externals, it took some grieving and it was hard because I realized I was kiving out of expectations about me being happy or feeling fulfilled when I had something, or had a better job etc then I thought to my self, If I would already had all those things I thought I wanted, like a career, a succesful job, a nice apartment etc, I would want to have what I have now with my husband, and I would think how I achieve all those things and still I would not be reslly fulfilled!!!
    So instead of keep fighting for what I did not have yet and supposedly would make me fulfilled I chose my husband because that was what was real, what was in front of me, what was there to show me love and support, there was a man who was waiting for me to grab his hand to walk towards the love I had never been shown and seen; and so I chose him, because untimatelly all those externals may had become real or maybe not, but deeply inside even if I would had achiebe them, I would want what I have now. So I chose him. I chose love because I know its life working its magic giving me the opportunity to finally grow towards love.
    Thank you Sheryl It took some grieving to realize what I just wrote above but thanks to you I am learning, I still sometimes grieve that but then again I let myself grieve it and I know this is way much much better and a way better way to grow and learn to be more love.
    God bless and marry christmas.

  • Lauren

    Wow. This post could not have come at a more perfect time. You have so accurately described me, all the way down to the job you mentioned – I work the front desk at a medical office and frequently feel frustrated because I think I could be doing more and am not challenged enough. And I have to say, my relationship anxiety masked my career anxiety for quite some time. I have no words besides thank you – I really needed this!

  • canvassva5

    Thanks for this thoughtful post, Sheryl, and lovely reminder of some of the key insights and practices from the Trust Yourself course (I participated in August 2014). I ran across this TED Talk the other day and it immediately made me think of you, what you learned from your earlier therapist, and what you strive to teach others: Many thanks for all you do!

  • Angela

    Thank you H, for your kind words and your wishes. With experience i guess i learnt to be sensible. I also can understand you wanting to do many things and there is nothing wrong with that. Many people wanna do things now. As we all know we have to wait for the right time. Wishing you all the best of luck. Angela x

  • Lauren

    I regularly deal with career and relationship anxiety. I am 32 years old and feel the messages sent to my generation are the perpetrators. So many people I know feel the pressure to travel the world and forego a “regular” job. There are a ton of stories that portray young people truly finding themselves living an “on the road” vagabond lifestyle. I never felt these pangs until my ex-husband wanted to live off the grid. I was hesitant to do so, and subsequently was told I was a fearful person. I have a job that affords stability and a purpose, yet I still struggle with the feelings of what could be. The messages that we hear are constant.

  • Newlymarried

    Thank you Sheryl your words mesn a lot coming from a wise person like you 🙂
    Have a happy christmas!!!

  • John Lee

    Another wonderful blog, and love that you focused on calling and life’s work. You really do have the gifts of taking complex, often painful dualities for us and taking them apart, and helping us understand and make sense of them in a way that connects to our feeling state.

    Your writing above reminded me of Robert Johnson’s book “He” that you recommended. I just read about how we misunderstand our expectation of happiness. As you know, he shares that happiness is allowing “life to happen,” versus trying to create a happiness feeling state which keeps us on the roller coaster of moods.

    I loved his definition of Enthusiasm….”to be filled with God,” or however you think of this higher energy.
    I am now aware of how these two are different, and in reflecting back, find that my enthusiasm has more staying power and benefits than trying to be happy.

    I hope that you and your family have a wonder holiday this year, and a very healthy and enthusiastic new year.

  • Webby

    Thank you for this post. It’s very timely for me. So much of your writing has helped me refocus or gain perspective I was needing, and it’s great that you turn to this subject that I’m struggling with, just as I’ve struggled with the idea of whether I’m with the “perfect” mate.

  • Sheryl, I absolutely loved this piece. I just received an email inviting me t join a program to bring the most out of my purpose and went through it in detail. At the end I felt the anxiety coming in/out… “shouldn´t I be doing something else, more, different? Am I not defocused by doing so many different things even if all are helping others grow? Shouldn´t I be more focused? Can I REALLY state my purpose in one sentence?” …jaja now I laugh at my dearest wounded side… fortunately I chose to be present, to explore and got th emost wonderful Truths from my guidance that so much resembles your post, such as: I AM my purpose, it is not something I need to find out to do, because I already KNOW ME and AM living my purpose at each single moment. I do not need to show up any kind of results, bid, small, etc, because measurement is only for the human mind, spirit is vast and wide, in a way I can never measure with my mind. My purpose is in place with every action, because even if “no one sees it” or no “apparent result” comes out I AM affecting the totality as a new path is being walked, and that IS my purpose: walking my unique path of consciousness, growing and as I do so, help others notice their own paths of growth in love and awareness.
    I feel blessed to have spirit drive me to you at this time. Thanks for stating so clearly what so many of us are walking through. I may quote part of your post for my workshops with teenage girls this year! It will be of so much help to read TRUTHS 🙂

    Thanks and blessings to you

  • onedayatatime

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this article and was very focused on this concept when you posted it. I am having hard time with this actually. Constantly mulling this over in my head. I really relate to the silent insidious message that I am doing it wrong somehow and chasing after the dangling carrot of happiness. And I also don’t know if I am having hard time with enjoyment and satisfaction from work because of the job or because of myself. Me: I am scared to make mistakes, I am scared of others judgments, anxiety, my own brain, my personality. My job: It’s supposed to be helping society, it’s fairly intense and stressful and fast paced, I feel it can carry a lot of responsibility ( I don’t necessarily handle that well but this is part of growing up), shift work ( draining), not a lot of opportunities to work through situations and process things (which is helpful for me to learn), a lot of self directed learning which I am finding very overwhelming. Could I just change my mindset and then I will enjoy it? Should I just practice more gratitude to be grateful for what I do have (it’s a good job in general terms)? Should I find ways to feel more confident? If I am able to improve the things that cause me anxiety will I be better and enjoy it more? How long will that take? But I am also very prone to the grass is greener mind set thus think “What if I find the “right” job that “perfect, passionate, meaningful, purposeful, all fulfilling job” then I will have found my calling and life would be awesome and things would just feel SO much better”. But what if there is something out there that really does feel more satisfying but not too boring and mundane? But I don’t know how to even start to unpack this, I feel paralyzed. I’ve already been working on myself but I do have a VERY long way to go.

    • You’ve done so much great work on yourself, and as you continue on through your 20s you will develop a stronger sense of your needs and direction. My guess, knowing what I know about you and your job, is that you would bring many elements of your anxiety to whatever job you chose. I’m not saying a different job might not benefit you at some point, but until you have a clear sense of what that job/career would be, it’s usually best to stay put. You might want to consider taking Trust Yourself again. I’ll be offering an alumni discount, which I’ll send out in the next few days. x

      • Onedayatatime

        This is hard because Work triggers so much. But I think most of tevtime, I have felt I don’t like nursing or am not fit for it. I am just so scared to make a mistake. It feels like I am setting myself up for something bad to happen to stay put. But I also don’t know what else I would do. And I think I can be my own barrier at times. I just feel so defeated a lot of the time. Do I just keep practicing self compassion?

        • Is there a different area of nursing that would be less of a trigger for your particular fear that you’re going to make a mistake?

          • onedayatatime

            Maybe. One that deals less with medications, less acutely medical. Perhaps in a community setting not a hospital. I am in an area that is already less acute in the medical sense (but in a hospital). Sorry and thank you Sheryl. I posted this in a bit of a desperate moment.

  • onedayatatime

    Thank you Sheryl. Although it doesn’t always feel like this, I see how this is true (bringing aspects of my anxiety & false beliefs to any job).

  • dsr

    Hey sheryl paul,
    I’m suffering from depression and anxiety which was developed bcoz of my relation. Of course my gf is wonderful.. I cannot figure out where, when and how it started.. But i can say, i developed a fear. I get doubts abt myself. questions like ‘Do I really love her?’ ‘Am i bored of her?’ ‘What is love?’ What if this problem solves now and come backs later?’
    She understood my problem and she is supporting me.. I feel good when i spend ttime with her. But anxiety comes back again..
    I’ve searched a lot abt this in internet..
    I didn’t figure out what my problem is till i saw your blog.
    I must thank you for dat..
    But still my anxiety is coming back..
    I need a permanent solution.. I’ve been strongly committed her.. but this strong commitment with no magic is reay confusing me..
    when I’m in anxiety i can’t even see positives in her. I loose trust on myself.
    If i’m doing good things for her and good actions for her, I’m getting imposter syndrome qualities.. I feel like I’m fake..
    I’m unable to receive some of her compliments or romantic ideas too..
    My questions for u..
    1) Do I love her? How can you tell that I really love her?
    2) How do i come out of this anxiety permanently?
    3) How can do I good actions to her without getting imposter syndrome.?
    4) If this is a transition and now there is no magic in my love.. So what next?
    i) Should i create magic? How?
    ii) If there is no necessity of magic then what to do now??
    5) Does real love have magic? Love without any kind of magic feels fake, Well, I don’t want any magic.. atleast i shud feel the connection, love and bonding between me and her.which I’m nt feeling noe.. bcoz without that feeling.. i feel i’m fake and I’ve imposter syndrome..
    6) Is there any solution, that i shud nt get these kind of doubts on my love again..? never.. not in this life..

    I hope u answer my questions..
    By the way, I must thank you for providing awareness to everyone, especially on this strange subject.. I was nt even aware that these kind of prob lems exist.. Keep going..

    And last but not least.. My girl friend is the greatest girl I’ve ever met.. She is the most patient, the most matured I’ve seen, at least when compared to people I’ve met.. And i can’t risk loosing her… I badly need a solution..

  • Kim

    I was in one of your recent rounds of trust yourself and I have to say, it was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had. I’m so excited about this post as I know we touched on this during trust yourself but didn’t delve too deep. It’s so hard to take the pressure off yourself when society is so demanding. This is why turning inward and learning to soften the sharp edges of ourselves is so important. Thanks again Sheryl!

  • Alison

    This is something that I’ve been struggling with since my teens, trying to determine what to study in college, sticking with just one discipline to study in college when everything interested me, then settling on a “path” upon graduation. All of it caused me great anxiety, and does to this day. The fear of trying something new and feeling overwhelmed with all of the possibilities is what has kept me stuck in a field I know I am good at but don’t particularly enjoy. Watching Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk which you linked to above was like having fireworks go off in my brain. It’s such a relief to be reminded in such a logical, comforting way that I don’t have to pick just one thing. I can pursue all of the things that speak to me. The trouble is settling my mind down and getting down to the business of beginning 🙂 Gotta get over that fear of failing at the things that excite me. Also I’m such a sponge that I see what others are doing with their lives (like professional travel writers and other alternative/exotic lifestyles) and think it’s infinitely more exciting than anything I could possibly do, so I usually end up full of envy and even more confused, even if that path isn’t really something that would suit my temperament. Guess life’s just all about making choices and seeing where they take you.

  • Charlotte

    I decided to not read your blogs for a while as I used them in a compulsive manner. However during this time I have made some pretty big decisions and have learnt about myself enough therefore I came onto your blog and saw this and I believe that it is fate. This blog couldn’t have been posted at a better time. I have recently learnt that although I am young, I have always been a people pleaser, I have constantly changed my education setting in order to please everyone else. In all of this, I was striving for a dream that I don’t want. I felt that I had to follow in society’s footsteps and go to university, get a job that is considered a ‘good’ job, have kids and get married. Over the past few months I have come to realise that having aspirations doesn’t always mean having career aspirations, my aspirations are to enjoy life, have a family, a home and be at peace with myself. I thought that studying to be a nurse would bring me peace of mind, having found that a career in nursing is not what I would like at all. I am terrified of what the future holds and also very excited, thank you for this post you truly are amazing.

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