Lost Dreams. How did I get here?

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    I used to be: Super independent, driven, focused, creative, inspired and hopeful.
    I’m now: Exhausted, desperate, depressed and afraid of being alone with myself.

    Maybe I was young and unrealistic in college… but then again I did my research and attended workshops, prepped my portfolio, and researched my ideal companies night and day.
    I used to be my own biggest fan. I was so full of hope and passion that I inspired those around me to be creative. I was a blooming artist with my whole career ahead of me.
    After I graduated I got a job right away in my field! It was a huge relief….Until I realized I had a nightmare for a boss. After six months of misery I had saved enough money to quit and escape back to my college town. I thought things would be better because at least I’d have my community and friends back. I told myself I’d work odd jobs until I landed a good position again.

    That was two years ago.
    I still don’t have a job in my field. I’m 24 and working minimum wage jobs that barely cover the bills. I was extremely stupid and got into credit card debt, on top of my already huge student debt.
    I work under yet another terrible boss. I’m the only person at my job with a college degree and I’m at the bottom of the ladder.
    I go weeks at a time with zero dollars in my account. All of it goes to keeping a car and a roof over my head.
    For a while I was managing things financially, but I’ve been on a steady slope down to rock bottom. I now cannot pay my debts.

    I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’ve dealt with depression before (in my teens) but not on this level.
    My family is always frustrated with me and don’t understand why I can’t get a job. I used to try endlessly, but I had so many interviews that went nowhere, I lost the motivation.
    I don’t even have an interest in doing art anymore.
    I feel like a failure. When I see former peers in great jobs and traveling, I am sick with jealousy and self hatred.
    I never used to be a bitter person. I know in my heart I don’t want this.

    I have one good thing in my life: I started seeing my current boyfriend about a year ago, and he is the best man I’ve ever met. He has changed my life and helped me learn how to trust and let others help me. He’s my best friend, and an inspiration to me (a working musician.) I love him so much, he always makes me laugh and smile again.
    The problems arise when I’m alone.

    I used to believe that I had something really special to offer the world, that I was even meant to do something important. The girl I used to be seems like I stranger now. I know I’m really depressed, and I’m taking steps to focus on my health now and seek help. I’m also thinking about going back to school.
    Has anyone out there dealt with this sort of financial/career struggle? How can I get the energy to try for more jobs? How can I stop my mind from destroying me with self doubt? Is there anyway to escape this cycle? I can’t keep this up much longer…

    Thanks for reading!


    The good thing is you found someone and sometime you have to accept the help of your friends and loved ones. Yes, you’re not alone in this situation, many people go through this all their life. But believe me bad things don’t stay forever. This is only a phase that will surely pass away. If you want to have more energy, you need to focus on your health. Eat healthy, go on a walk or exercise regularly, try yoga and meditation. These things will keep you away from negativity and give you mental and physical energy to achieve your goals. If you’re good in it focus on the artist inside of you. But most of all stay positive, hopeful and focused and believe in yourself.

    Martina Weiss

    Just one thing: You are neither a loser, nor a failure, no matter what the people around you or your inner critic say. The way to get back to the life you had before is to start to believe in your worth and your capabilities. It seems like you’ve lost this. What is it that makes you happy? What is it that you want to do in your life? What do you want to create? What is joyful for you? And, who are you without the voices around you? Try to figure out those questions. You deserve an amazing life. And you are enough the way you are right now! Do you believe when I say this?


    Thank you mamie, I’m hopeful that this is only a phase. I did a yoga class trial recently and I really loved it. I think I’ll try to go again soon, and also meditation seems like a good option. Thanks again it’s just helpful to have someone listen and offer unbiased advice!


    Also Martina Weiss thanks for the comment and advice. I think I need to rediscover what makes me happy. The old path I was on perhaps isn’t cutting it. I’ve been living in the past. Maybe I need to take a look at myself now and find out what’s most important. I’m not sure what I want to create, but I know that the act of creating brings me joy. I’ll start there.
    The point you made: “who are you without the voices around you” I think really struck a chord with me. I think all these voices are too loud and overpowering. I’ve let them take over my life.
    I believe it!
    I need to let go of the things holding me down. I will think about these questions, and try to open up some space for answers.
    thank you so much!

    Martina Weiss

    Yes, littlebean724, these voices around us most of the times are louder than our own. I know how this is. Last year I spent one year in Southeast Asia, away from society, it’s values and expectations. This was when I realized that I have my own voice and that only this one knows what fulfills me (and not necessarily others). This is ok. Just figure out who you are and what makes you happy. And: Fall in love with yourself again!


    It felt like you stepped inside my heart and wrote my story. Change the profession and age, and you captured how I have been feeling. If I had fantastic advice for you, I would likely have resolved my own worries. All I can offer is that I can feel your despair and disappointment – I know how much it hurts. I know how the fear of rejection and failure loom like a black cloud over every possibility. It is difficult to dream big when all you see are the ways that you are certain to fail this time around too.

    I do have good advice, but it wasn’t mine. My first dream job ended up as a nightmare. The boss was unpredictable, cruel and a bully. I did everything in my power to please her. I failed. In those desperate weeks, I met with a friend who insisted that I leave the job. I had lost 25 lbs in a month, and I was an emotional wreak. She promised that at this rate, it would kill me.

    I followed her advice, but as I packed up my first office into a box, I was overwhelmed with a sense of failure. When I called her and told her I was jobless, she screamed with delight. She said, “Now that you won’t die, you can start to live!” Then she said, “First, you need to cope with the crushing disappointment and panic.” In the bluntest of terms, she said, “fake it”. “Live your life like you would tell your best friend to live hers”. Get out of bed, put on the clothes that make you happy. Look like the professional grownup that you want to be. Do your hair and make up. And smile. Smile at strangers – most will smile back. Those who don’t, probably need your smile more than you could possibly understand. Get out of the house, and get involved in your community. Just do it. You will help people whose hearts are heavier than your own, and it will fill your heart with light. Even if it doesn’t at first, you have a body, use it to help others. Your heart will follow.

    The most important advice was this. She said that you MUST attack every negative thought head on. Whether it is about yourself or somebody else. Negative thoughts are dangerous – they cascade – like dominos until you are afraid to be alone. I suspect that is where you are now. It sounds silly, but it works. If you look in a mirror and see, “Ugly”, say outloud “Love that nose. People would pay $1000s for that perfect sniffer”. Heck, give it a wee kiss in the mirror. That silly exchange will make you feel ridiculous and comical, but it will not lead to the next thought. It also takes energy – eventually, it is more effort to think negative thoughts than to keep your mind at rest.

    She was right. Of course. Let me tell you. Life has its ups and downs. When they do, I hear her voice telling me to “fake it”. I smile because I know what she really meant was “don’t give up”. So I will share that advice with you. Face it. Make your body and mind do what you need it to do, your heart will certainly follow.

    Above all, sleep well, eat well and exercise. All great advice you will hear from others… but it all boils down to the same thing. When you can’t bring yourself to try anymore… fake it 🙂


    I’m so glad I decided to ask for advice. You all are so sweet and understanding. I know I’ve come to the right place for guidance! Heatherbee thanks for your comment, that advice your friend gave you seems to be good for me too. I’m sorry that you’ve had an experience similar to mine. I feel like it’s probably more of a common experience than one might think…In this time we live in. Maybe people just don’t talk about it very much.
    It will be hard to tackle and face these negative thoughts, but I will try. Every day is a new chance to start over. I’ve heard the phrase “fake it till you make it.” I guess it makes sense now! 🙂
    Things seem clearer.
    If there was any way I could go back in time and give the younger me some advice, I’d warn her about giving in to strong opinions at the expense of her own voice. I have a family full of big personalities, (god bless them they mean well) and they’ve done the best they could, but because of their own unhappiness and perceived failures, they’ve put this intense pressure on me to be successful. In the end, they may have been pushy, but I still had the option to either reject or accept their advice. I wanted them to be proud of me, but living the way others want you is not necessarily success. Perhaps success really comes from within…just following your heart.
    Everyday is a choice, our minds really do control our reality. It’s crazy to see how evident that truth has been in my own life. The more I fight the more walls I hit, the more things don’t seem to align.

    Well Wisher

    i suffering from depression anxiety(more anxious about future, what wrong going to happens in my life and i am a mad my life is gone or waste something like that) and worries tension i cannot live a good life and i don’t want anything in this world no enjoyment and suffering too much so i want recover from this any one can help me?


    wellwisher, you sound more than just situationally depressed. I have been there, did all the self care things and finally went to see a psychiatrist when it became an issue in my relationship with my bf almost causing the end of it. I now take an anti depressant and I am a lot better. I am not saying medications are for everyone, and sometimes it takes trial and error to find the right one or the right dose. But for me, I was at a point where I had to do SOMETHING more. Seeing a shrink is not a failure and it doesn’t mean they will put you on medication but it might help you to get some guidance.


    Littlebean, you are still very young with a lot of things to come including changes that will be good. I agree with the poster who said “fake it until you make it”. I go to work with a smile on my face even when I have just finished crying about something and usually I actually feel better a little later. Maybe a counselor could help you sort this out if you feel like you are so depressed that you cannot fully function. Being sad is one thing but when depression inserts itself into your life enough to affect your school, work or relationships negatively then it could be time for some outside help. There are counselors out there who work on a sliding scale basis, so hopefully you can see someone even if you do not have health insurance to cover it. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself, life is a marathon not a sprint and this difficult time will at some point become your past.
    PS-you might be interested in my reply to wellwisher on this thread.


    I came upon this just aimlessly looking for some help online and I can so relate to this. Broken dreams. I was a dancer. I lived in Paris. I had a beautiful little apartment in the most beautiful city on earth and every night I would go on stage in feathers and diamonds and people clapped. I was living the dream. Then at 34 I got fired. It’s all over. I lost my job, my home, my lifestyle, my independence, my pride and joy and purpose and identity… It’s too much. I don’t know how to cope. I had some counselling. Different people. They all focus very much on getting me retrained for something and back out in some job and I understand what they’re trying to do but nobody is addressing this huge loss I feel. People keep telling me it’s not so bad, it’s just a job, nobody died but actually I died. Me. That person that I was doesn’t exist anymore. And I can’t ever go back. At 34 getting back into a dance job is just unrealistic. Everything I worked for all my life, my dream, my passion-it’s over. People keep telling me I should be grateful, I had 10 years of a wonderful career but I can’t feel grateful. It wasn’t enough. I wasn’t finished. And how do you cope with knowing that 10 years is all you’ll ever get in life? How do you keep on living? I don’t know. It’s a really good advice and it’s really important to find out what makes you happy in life. But what if you know it, if you found it but you can’t ever get it back?
    I’m sorry littlebean, I didn’t meet to grab attention from you, I just read your post and all this came pouring out. Sorry


    Littlebean, the timing of your post couldn’t be more perfect. I’m 33, but can identify with how you are feeling. I too had what I what I thought was my dream job before it turned into a nightmare. By the end, I was sleeping 3 hours a night, checking e-mails at 4am and lucky if I was able to stomach 1 meal a day. It was actually my boss that made me realize that this wasn’t the job for me and helped facilitate an exit plan that was beneficial to everyone. While there is no doubt in my mind it was the right thing for me, I never could have prepared for the impending sense of loss and failure that would accompany it. I had always been extremely successful in my career: multiple promotions, outstanding reviews and awards. So while “publicly” it was my decision to leave, knowing that I was encouraged to resign is a secret that has been slowly killing me. So many people have told me how brave I am to take time off without a plan and the guilt just eats away at me knowing that I don’t deserve their admiration. If they only knew the truth, that I failed and just wasn’t good enough. I do everything I’m supposed to: work out, network, volunteer and even went on a yoga retreat. But I hate myself more and more every day that goes by where I’m not working. I do everything I can to be avoid being alone, even if it means just walking for hours. Otherwise, I just spend my time crying and being angry at myself. I don’t want to burden my friends or family, so I exhaust myself trying to pretend I have everything together. All of my friends are married, have children or are engaged, so as a single person my job was my identity. Without it, I don’t feel like I have a purpose.

    Littlebean, my heart breaks for you, because you are still so young and have so many opportunities ahead of you. I know that it is difficult to see, but this is truly just the beginning for you. Your boyfriend sounds like a wonderful support system and hopefully he can keep reminding you how talented and special you are. I wish you the best and try to learn everything you can from this detour. It’s so hard to embrace change when you aren’t sure what the lesson is. Just know that one day it will be clear.


    catgirl don’t worry about grabbing attention from me! Haha! 🙂 This is an open forum
    I posted this for several reasons, one of which was to see if there was anyone else out there feeling this way. Sometimes it seems like I’m completely alone (even though logic tells me its impossible.) This has been helpful not only for advice but also in that I’ve been able to hear other people’s stories on this site. Listening to others helps. Thank you.
    Making a profession or ‘calling’ part of your sense of identity seems only natural when it’s what you’re most passionate about. I don’t claim to have anywhere near the talent and careers that batgirl and hope1234 must have had (that sounds incredible…) but I completely get it when you say you feel like you lost your purpose when you could no longer live the dream.
    Without doing art I have no idea who I am.

    Being an artist was the only thing I ever wanted as a child. The harder I worked the better I got, and my passion and commitment were seemingly endless. Everything bad that happened to me I channeled and transformed into work that got better and better. My creativity was what made me special, and it was how I achieved recognition in school and life. I focused so intensely on perfecting my craft that if I had any other interests or talents, they were buried and overlooked…Now unrecognizable. (what else can I even do now?)
    I’m not sure who I am without art. I somehow now need to accept that my identity is not tied to my former passion…I’m still me (even though it feels like the old me has died.)
    Thank you to mssoleil too for the advice….”The most important thing is to be kind to yourself, life is a marathon not a sprint and this difficult time will at some point become your past.” I hope so. I really hope.


    You know what, go and try to find out who you are and what you like and you might find out that you’re still an artist. Nobody can take that away from you. You unique way of expressing yourself is yours and will always be yours. I think what we have to try-and it’s really hard-is to seperate the art from the expectation and praise and success that we hoped to achive. I don’t know what you do exactly but do you love doing it, even if nobody ever looks or ever cares? Just do it for yourself, express yourself! Maybe you will end up not being an artist as your main career but nobody can tell you to stop expressing yourself. Or maybe you will be creative in a completely different field. You’re young. There’s plenty of ways to be an artist. And I actually really do believe, if that’s the kind of person you are, you will be an artist, no matter what. Maybe you won’t be an ingenue. Maybe thinks will happen for you much later in life. And another thing that is really hard to learn is: it’s not your fault. If you don’t make it it doesn’t mean you were not good enough. Do you think the celebrities, the famous people, the ones who officially “make it”, do you think they are the best of their generation??? For every one of them there’s a girl somewhere with twice the talent, twice the passion who never got a brake. That’s really shitty. Art has no rules, no facts, it’s about peoples tastes and contacts and luck …. At the end of the day, whatever it is you do, do it for yourself. You have something special and unique to offer. If people don’t want it-their loss. I know it’s tough because we tend to need sooo much validation as artists. But why did you first get into it? Not for other people. You just love it, it’s a part of who you are and nobody can ever take that love away from you

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