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You Asked: Should I Follow My Instincts or Listen to My Mom?


Dear Sugar,

I am 27 years old and truly miserable at the job I've had for the past five years. It started out as what I considered to be my "dream" job, but has turned into anything but that. I've tried to voice my concerns to my boss to no avail. I've had a lot of unanticipated personal health issues come up in the past few months, which have given me a lot of perspective on what I want out of life.

Since I never got the opportunity to do so before, I really want to travel the world for the next few months. I don't even want to ask my work for a leave of absence — I just want to go and find a new career when I return. But my mom feels like if I do this it'll be a huge mistake and that I won't be able to find another job when I get back. Every time I express my excitement about leaving, she just reminds me how expensive health insurance is, and how my new job could be even worse.

My dad has been really supportive and reminds me that my mom was raised differently. I understand this and know that she does love me, but her lack of faith in me is really crushing. It also hurts to know that she would rather see me unhappy at a job I detest than possibly happy, but temporarily unemployed. Her opinion really does matter to me. What do I do?

— Desperate to Quit Denine

To see Dear Sugar's answer read more.

Dear Desperate to Quit Denine,

I don't think you should assume that your mother's concerns reflect disappointment in you or the choices you've made. It sounds like your mother is thinking about this change from a very rational perspective, and is truly concerned about possible financial repercussions. Not to sound cliche, but she's worried about you because she loves you. Your mother comes from an entirely different generation that didn't grow up thinking that it was OK to follow passion above financial responsibility.

That said, you are a financially-independent and an emotionally-capable adult who knows what's best for you. Perhaps your need for your mother's approval is actually a manifestation of your own fears about abandoning your terrible but reliable job. Whatever the reason, if you're miserable, it's time to leave your job — sometimes taking a big leap of faith is all it takes to get the clarity it sounds like you need.

Consider all your options and make a plan. Create a budget including the time it may take to find a job when you return, and make sure to leave a cushion of three to six months, just in case. Establish what types of jobs you'd like to pursue when you get back. Create a back-up plan — can you take a leave of absence from your job initially and decide whether or not you'll come back when you return? Once you've looked at every possibility, bring your mom back into the discussion. Realize that she still might not be thrilled about your decision, but she'll likely be more comfortable to see that you've thought everything through!

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