Group Therapy: Help, I’m trapped in my job


Michelle* writes:

Have you ever felt like your job was wrapped into your identity, woven into your psyche so tightly that if you tried to pull it free your world would unravel and dissolve?

That is how I feel about my job. It is who I am. Yet I have no job security. My boss flits around my head like a deranged hummingbird pointing out every mistake I make.

All I ever wanted was to be a journalist. Now I am not so sure. I fell into work in a newsroom and decided my path was to be a television news journalist. I could even present the news one day!

Now, after two years and experiencing the world of TV news, I am not sure this is what I want. How do I tell this to my family, who told me I “am not allowed” to quit my job, it is too good and I am lucky to be here?

My older brothers always saw me as the “smart one” because I could read very well and write. “Your job is awesome, Michelle, don’t you ever dare quit,” they’d say.

I come to work wound up, scared to make a single mistake lest I be dragged into another meeting, another “talk” with the boss. I am afraid to leave my desk in case I have forgotten something, anything that might make him pounce on me.


The media is an unforgiving temptress. Things change every day. I do love the media, and I want to be a journalist, just television is not for me. I feel like I am trapped in Sydney, in a small bubble unable to move on anywhere else because this company is now my life.

I know my job like the back of my hand, yet it is so easy for things to go wrong here. My boss has a zero tolerance toward error.

I have been known to sit in the toilets, rocking back and forth with tears streaming down my face, repeating the words “I can’t lose my job, I can’t lose my job.” Yet I want out.

What do I do? I don’t want to let my family down, yet I need to escape this career. I want to write. I want to stretch out my creative wings and dabble in writing, maybe even write for a music magazine.

I feel like if I lose my job here, I have nothing left. I lose what makes me … me.

*We have used a different name for the author.

Has anyone else ever felt like they were trapped in a job that was woven into their identity?


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