I’m 25 years old and I work in a senior advisor position within a government.  I help form decisions with some of the most senior elected officials that appear on TV news hour. I navigate political warfare, and I make more than the combined salaries of my parents.

But somehow this meteoric rise churns in my stomach since by night I inherently reside in another galaxy. I’m a hobbyist performer in breakdance/funkstyles/hiphop culture. I share communal practice space and session 3-4 times a week after work. I’m more in-tune with the grassroots arts organizations and people that meet what we call a “struggling artist” profile. I do local outreach with them in fact.  I know and can recite all the lyrics of Notorious B.I.G’s Big Poppa, prefer high top sneakers over oxfords, and generally grew up with this type of environment since high school.

I find myself in a space in life right now where I simply don’t have a place called home in the realm of social circle. Don’t get me wrong, I can mingle with the best of the suits in a networking session, but I’m genuinely not interested in hearing about how fast your Porsche 911 can go. In the same way I admire the artist community, I couldn’t find myself fully relating to some arts educators who tell stories about literally saving children from suicide by teaching them dance.

I feel there’s something wrong with me. I wake up many mornings wondering if I should pursue other things. Do “successful” people at mid 20’s ever face loneliness? What if I don’t find myself fitting in with the country club?

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7 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    How about if you think of your job as just a way to fund your dancing/outreach/etc. Most creative people have to have a day job. Yours just happens to pay a lot.

    Also, try to have some respect for people who like money – usually they are not bad people, just very competitive people and money is a way to keep score. Some people are born to breakdance and some people are born to compete in business. Both choices are fine as long as the person is being true to himself.

    Also, part of being good at what you do is never being comfortable where you are. Most people who do grand sweeping things in the world always feel a little off balance, which is why they are always striving for something. So on days when you feel discomfort, remember that discomfort is a place where great art grows.

    Penelope

  2. Rayne
    Rayne says:

    I am a lawyer from a blue collar background and thus find myself at country clubs where people are discussing shit I am not interested in on at least a monthly basis. Also, I’m usually the only 30 something with a table full of 65-75 year olds. I have found having a few interesting questions in my back pocket to be a lifesaver. For example, where would one find the best breakfast / biscuits & gravy / patty melt in town? I find a good subjective question on a topic not having to do with work or money can go a long way.

  3. jessica
    jessica says:

    Do you have enough money to live comfortably for several years while attempting to make a living as a dancer? Dancers train since childhood- do you have that experience to command a similar salary as your gov job? If not, keep practicing after work and sock away your money for as long as you can (I.e unless you find a better opportunity or get sacked) do not leave your job without a plan. It’s easy to think, with the security you have right now, that there are other avenues to be pursuing- because you’re not currently worried.

    You don’t have to identify with anyone that you work with. They like their porche? Cool. You like your dancing? Cool. Don’t concern yourself with the social scene around you and go find your scene and work hard at your hobbies and job. Pursue things until they work out in a realistic manner. The right path will become clear and easier to focus on as long as you don’t make financial mistakes that will hold you back or tie you down.

  4. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Hi! Yes, successful people experience loneliness. A study by Li and Kanazawa of The British Psychological Society found the same result: “More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends.”

    Ask yourself why you want to fit in the country club. If you want to understand them so you can do better at work, just join them and study them.

    If you want to be part of the club so you can be richer, you can network well with them and sell them your ideas. This same advice applies if you have an advocacy or hobby that you want to pursue.

    If you do not want to be with them, you can always politely refuse. That’s what I do for everything except for my job.

  5. Anna
    Anna says:

    An interesting question is if there is a correlation between the two ‘worlds’ just because they are both being done by the same person. It might be that they are two very discrete activities with no correlation. Every cost-benefit of each can’t be “borrowed” for the other one. For example, the fun of dancing can’t transfer to lack of fun of the job, and the cash from the job can’t transfer to dancing. Doing both make someone wish there could be a unity of the two on some tacit, experiential level, but it might be that the two things are totally separate.

    Myers-Briggs might have an answer to the disparity of why one individual has this diversity across two very different things. Maybe clarifying what matters to you the most in truth would help. Then when mixed signals come up, you can know how to answer those and categorize those so they don’t confuse the direction you are going.

  6. Peggy
    Peggy says:

    Let me guess that one reason you’re so successful at work is that you have these connections outside of work…for you the struggling artists have faces, and that shapes your input into decision-making.

    As for having a social “home”, I think that is something that you’re going to have to create around yourself and within yourself. I think of a turtle, carrying her home on her back while going around in the world. You’re a unique individual, and that is okay.

  7. Maria
    Maria says:

    I can relate a lot to the situation. I have a very well paid job in Finance. I am 37. During the last 15 years I have managed to become really good at it and do it almost effortless. 60% of my working time is spent on politics, relationship management and networking the other 10% is spent on transactional work or analysis and about 30% is coaching my team. I always thought about having my own business. First, it was as a hobby that I made jewelry and sold it to others. Now is become a second job where I have a diiferent set of challenges. So, you have dancing in the evenings and I have a second business that I love to work for. But I feel a bit disconnected. During the day I mingle with the CFO or finance VPs in the chemical industry, during the nights I have calls with PR and marketing guys in the fashion business. It is all so subrreal. The problem is I dont manage to focus 100% on neither of the two worlds. When I was younger I was successful in my job, because I was really focus on it. I had clear carreer objectives and a plan how to reach these. Today my focus is so split. So by definition there is not focus. I have used a lot of strategic tools and arsenal of tactis I learned during my MBA to analyze my own situation. The results are always the same, and the process to get to these reasults always seems overengineered. If I want financial stability, save money and security in the short term I should stay at my day job. If I want to give a chance to my drean, invest and have an uncertain chance of financial success I should focus on my own business. So I saved money to pay bills and the like for the next 10 months, I got a small investor and a loan and I have resigned to my perfect day job, I guess in the pursuit of happiness or madness?:-)

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