In my work as a psychologist, I have encountered numerous instances of individuals grappling with profound regret regarding their chosen professions. This is a deeply contemplative and disconcerting issue, especially when you consider the substantial investments of time, money, and years of dedication poured into their education, training, and work.
But then comes the question: Should they discard it all, hit the reset button, and start a new?
Invariably, there tends to be a common underlying factor contributing to such crises of identity: an overwhelming burden of stress and burnout in the workplace or during the educational journey.
Recently, a friend shared a story about a young woman who devoted four years to becoming a nurse. However, when she began her career, the emphasis was more on quantity over quality, pushing her into a realm of enduring prolonged, severe stress that eventually necessitated a medical leave. During her time off, she didn't address the root causes of her stress, confront her anxieties, seek proper treatment, or acquire the tools to prevent a recurrence of severe stress.
What typically unfolds is a cycle where individuals become apprehensive about returning to their previous workplace, and understandably so. For those who have experienced adverse physical and emotional reactions in their prior professional environment, it's natural to associate those feelings directly with their chosen career.
The long-term effects of work-related stress can be so overwhelming that they manifest physically, causing individuals to react strongly to something they had dedicated years of their life to.
Returning to my friend's story: After her sick leave, the young nurse sought employment in cleaning jobs and never returned to the nursing field.
This is far from the first account I've heard of such a dramatic career shift brought on by the strain of work-related stress. It's disheartening because our society relies on professionals such as nurses, doctors, pilots, and many others who commit themselves to their vocations through years of education, training, and job pursuit.
As I've stated previously, I must emphasize once again: If you find yourself trapped in the throes of prolonged stress, please seek assistance. It is treatable, and it is never too late to address these issues.