How many success stories have you heard that begin with someone being told “you can’t”? Imagine this: you’ve gone to university and gotten a bachelors degree in something that you were once passionate about. You then get out into the working world and realize that it’s not for you. This causes some stress, so you begin doing some soul searching. What are you passionate about? What can you make money from that won’t make you dread going to work everyday? You begin establishing some ideas within yourself about what might make you feel more fulfilled, and you know that it’s time for you to take a chance and explore new paths. However, the majority of people express doubts about quitting your day job to pursue something unconventional or unpredictable. Understandably, they’re concerned. Family, friends, and colleagues express their own opinions for what you should do, most of which aren’t in line with what you feel inside is right for you. How do you deal with the doubt and have confidence in your own ability to make educated decisions?
Dealing with Doubt
As many of you already know, I have been pursuing a music therapy internship since June 2016. I completed a four year bachelors degree in music therapy prior to this. As you can see, I have invested a decent amount of time into this career path. However, I have not been happy pursuing music therapy for the majority of my internship. A number of instances have brought me to the conclusion that this is no longer something that I want to pursue, so this weekend I took a chance. I wrote to my supervisor and I resigned. Is this crazy? Maybe, but let’s rewind for a minute.
If you read my post Drowning in the Stigma of Mental Illness, you will know that I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and also sometimes experience symptoms of depression. My symptoms have been present throughout my entire internship experience, but were extreme over the past couple of weeks. I struggled to even leave my bed and suffered from what felt like a panic attack loop. It was one after another, and it was constant. I cried a lot. There were also times that I felt numb, and the thought of going to work made me feel like I was going to die. I knew this was it, and I had to take a chance and get out.
I tried talking to the people I’m closest with about how I was feeling. Everyone expressed concern that I was making this decision impulsively based on emotions. They thought I wasn’t thinking this through. What they didn’t know is that I’ve been thinking this through for months. They didn’t understand the feeling of crippling anxiety and depression that I was drowning in. I had some people tell me to “suck it up and just go to work”. Everyone was offering me advice that was opposite to what I felt I truly needed, and I felt so confused. They didn’t realize I was trying to give myself my best chance.
Gaining Back Confidence
I was fortunate to have a select few individuals who came around to support me. They told me their concerns, but also recognized that what I do is my decision and I need to do what I feel is best for me. They told me to have complete confidence in whatever decision I make and stick with it. These words have stuck with me over the past week and have helped me to feel so much stronger. They brought to my attention that all of the self-doubt I was having because of everyone else’s doubt was because I wasn’t having any confidence in myself. I’ve been making decisions based off of what other people think for so long that I lost my ability to confidently make decisions for myself, let alone against what everyone else thinks.
In the end, it’s important to remember that everyone who shared their thoughts or opinions about what I should do were looking out for my best interest. As exhausting as this past little while has been, I feel incredibly blessed to have so many people who care about me and my future. As I’ve began telling people about my decision and my action to resign from the internship, I have found it helpful to not only explain why I quit, but where I’m looking to go next. This demonstrates that it wasn’t just an impulsive decision and that I’ve thought this through.
I don’t want to be a music therapist. I do know I want to have my own company one day, and even though I’m not sure what that company will be I know that I want to gain business experience. The time and effort I put towards music therapy were not for nothing. I gained a vast amount of knowledge and transferable skills that I can apply to other workplaces. I met some of the greatest people through my schooling and internship and I don’t regret the time I’ve invested. This is a time to look forward, not back.
Let me know if you’ve ever had a situation like this. Have you ever made a big decision that goes against the advice of those closest to you? How did people react and how did you deal with it? Also, let me know what I should write about next for the Quarter Life Crisis Confessions series and be sure to check out the previous post as well: Career Confusion: Quarter Life Crisis Confessions. Finally, don’t forget to get access to the free resource library, where I frequently add helpful resources for all of your adulting needs!