I’m 43, unemployed, have an inconsistent work history and live with my elderly parents. I can look back over 15 years of my life and see how things unfolded.

I have 2 questions actually:

1. If your peak life earnings at 40, how do you come to grips that you’re probably unemployable even if it’s by fate?

I gave up ever being able to get a mortgage.
I gave up having a wife and being able to support a family.
I gave up having a steady career.
I gave up my youth to seize opportunities when they appeared

So I’m not asking “how do I get a job?”

2)  How do I cash in on all those sacrifices I made to create a lifestyle where I can stay connected to the world in some way or form and not just become another Dilbert waiting for retirement.

America is a terrible environment to sustain a marriage. And Western women in general aren’t suited to a successful marriage. Most women find most men unattractive marriage candidates anyway. I’m not opposed to a ‘life partner’ though. If my resume is terrible for finding a job, it’s even worse for finding a wife.

I am a 32-year-old single female INFJ UX writer. I work in an open office in a large corporation. I’ve worked there for about 6 years. I also identify as an HSP, as most INFJs would. I know you are going to freak out at me and tell me I need to get married and start a family, stat. And that since I’m unmarried and over 30, I’m probably autistic. I’m working on dating but haven’t met the guy I want to marry yet! I am trying to break the cycle of ending up with manipulative, emotionally abusive men.

Anyway, when I was 27-28 I became very sick and only when I went to a naturopath did I find out that I basically have a chronic illness and essentially, chronic fatigue syndrome. Because of this, I have to be very careful about managing my stress, diet and lifestyle. Any little tweak can send me into flareup mode, and I effectively have to take a few days “off.” I can’t be too social, push myself too hard or sometimes even go to work. This occasionally makes it hard to date, and I hate that I can’t be my best self.

I’ve found when I work from home a few days a week, I feel much better. Because of the collaborative nature of my job that often requires in-person interaction, it is hard to do that anymore — and everywhere I’ve interviewed, it has been the same sentiment (I haven’t asked but it’s been implied.) If I go on a relaxing vacation near salt water, I feel great. If I go home to Wisconsin, I feel pretty good as well. (Nature is good for your immune system, as I’m sure you already know.) There are times I really do feel vitality and health (and people even comment on it!) but just not when I am at work 5 days a week. (I hope this doesn’t sound entitled; I know few people like going to work 5 days a week, but for me it is extra draining, and I struggle with it a lot more than the average person due to illness and being an HSP. And you don’t have to remind me that I’m childless so I have even less stress to complain about.)

I like my job, and I’m good at it. I make a decent salary, more than I ever thought I’d make as a writer. I have a pension, which I know is nearly unheard of these days. I like that my job provides me somewhat of a built-in social network, as so many of my friends are disappearing by moving to other cities or getting married. Since I’ve been there 6 years, I keep looking to move on. I basically need to move jobs to get a promotion. I have a really great work-life balance: I only work 40 hours a week, I don’t check my email at home, I get 5 weeks of vacation, and if I need to leave a little early for whatever reason, no one bats an eye. Everywhere I’ve interviewed, this is not the case.

I consider myself very lucky. I used to work at a major PR firm which I think is where a lot of my chronic illness issues stemmed from — it was very toxic, stressful and combative, and I know now that I cannot handle that type of environment. But I’m unsure if even my current situation is the best thing for my health right now. I keep having flareups. I have to take time off to recover until it happens again. I often have to sneak off in the middle of the day to take naps. But I know that I’m lucky that I can even do that. We had a reorg recently, and I’m on too many projects and in too many meetings, which is making me more stressed and causing more frequent flareups. I work in tech, and sexism and sexual harassment takes a daily toll, especially in an open office where I feel like I have to constantly be protecting myself. This isn’t helping either. I know and do all the stress-management techniques, and I keep wondering if I should look for a remote job or part-time remote job. But I’m afraid I’d feel really isolated.

Oh and my real dream? To be a novelist. I have several side writing projects that I work on outside of work. I have hobbies that I like to do for fun. I love animals and would like to get a dog but can’t in my current apartment due to restrictions. I’m considering moving, but the stress of moving will likely set my stress back too.

Do you have any advice on what I should do about work? Without sounding like a gold-digger, getting married and being able to quit and work part-time would be ideal, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment. So what should I do?

I just finished the INFJ course, and I wish I could thank you, but I won’t. That class made me see my plan for myself is totally fucked up.

I am 27, and working as an advisor to the government. Going to work everyday is exhausting to me: having to come up with all the things people ask me to do, the meetings, everything related to working in an office is just too much, plus the fact that I need to wake up super early to be able to save some time for myself before heading to the office, and also have at least two hours of alone time (I usually go to yoga) before getting back home to my boyfriend. It’s just too crazy.

My exit plan before following the course was to go into something related to health and wellness. I thought it would make more sense than my actual job, and I did my yoga teacher training and I’ve been practicing for more than 10 years now, so it has always been interesting to me. I know teaching yoga is a lot of marketing, I was thinking more about going back to school to study acupuncture and work as an acupuncture/massage therapist/yoga teacher + counting on my boyfriend to be the breadwinner (he’s an INTJ).

Knowing now, from your course, that I am a planner more than a doer, and that my exit plan might not get me what I need to be happy was kind of a relief (not having to go back to school full time for 3 years without a salary was scary), but now I am left without any plan and I feel totally depressed.

I miss my family, spending time with them is the only thing that makes sense to me, but I still have to make some money to live like pretty much everybody else. I have an amazing boyfriend and might have been interested in the kids plan (even though I can’t quite figure it out and still not sure I could do it), but I have been dealing with a disgusting eating disorder for 12 years which keeps me from having my period, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat enough to maintain my period, so I can’t and I do not want to count on that.

I have no idea what to look forward to anymore. I feel stuck in my beige cubicle and I want to die. Help.

I have a job at a law firm that I got after years of forced learning (going to law school was definitely a mistake). Although I get along with my boss, trying to “fit in” takes all of my energy and motivation for life, maybe because I’m an INFJ, or because being a lawyer sucks, or both.

I’m really fed up with trying’ to be somebody I’m not. All I really want to do is 1) find a mate 2) have children 3) make some art.

Should I find another job that doesn’t suck so much of my energy so I can focus on those goals, or should I just reframe the whole thing? In the latter case, how ?

Lately I’ve been texting this girl that I seem to like. Yet whenever I imagine us in a relationship I get concerned. And it’s that way not just with her but with any girl I really like. I just turned 22 in February and I’m still in College and have never experienced anything sexually. Never a first kiss, nothing.

I’ve been doing some self reflection trying to figure this out, but I don’t think it’s the fact that I’m new to these things. I think it maybe has something to do with my family situation. My dad, my sister and I aren’t close at all, we rarely even talk to each other, and we live in the same house! My brother and my mom and I have a decent relationship but for some odd reason we don’t feel comfortable expressing our love for each other. We do all love each other as a family, but after some arguments and some bad experiences with each other we seem to have grown apart to the point where it almost feels like were all strangers. The only member of my family I have a perfect relationship with is my little brother who is about to turn 9.

I look at how dysfunctional my family is everyday, and the thought of one day having to bring a girl home who I really like or a girlfriend to introduce or worse, her parents wanting to meet my own, scares me to death.

My parents are always arguing about stupid things, my brother and sister are always arguing, the dog is barking and it really is not what I want for my future girlfriend or even wife to have to see or deal with. My mom is overweight and has bad eating manners, my dad comes home from work and watches tv all day in the second living room all by himself. And my brother and sister lock each other up in their rooms and have zero respect for my parents. I can’t stress enough  how dysfunctional this family is, as of late there hasn’t been any horrible events, but in the not too distant past there has been many bad experiences. My dad has hit my mom before. Things of that nature. My parents provide food, and a roof over our heads and there is nothing lacking in that regard, but emotionally we just aren’t there for each other.

I feel the only way to fix our situation is to spend some time away from each other. That’s why I’ve been trying to save up so that I can move out soon, because I’m nothing like them. I’m an honest person, and I live my life well. Everyone that knows me is always shocked when they see who I live with, because they wonder why I didn’t turn out the same.

Anyways, if I was to tell my parents I had a girlfriend that I really cared about I would feel extremely vulnerable. They wouldn’t change there ways, not even for me and my future, or for the person I care about. And that would hurt me every single day. I hope this is making sense, it would be like a constant slap in the face, it would be like collectively they would be saying “we don’t care about you and your girlfriend, we’re just going to continue our old ways”. And my dad and mom would continue to under-appreciate me and all that I do, and  I just wouldn’t feel comfortable telling my parents about a girlfriend.

This is probably why I also feel odd when it comes to having a girlfriend I really like. I don’t want you to think that I can’t express love, I can and I do it all the time, for my friends and professors anyone else I care about. (Fortunately outside my family, I have plenty of good friends) That’s not the problem. I just can’t with my family, except for my little brother. It just feels “awkward” and strange. I can’t even tell them happy birthday, or happy mothers day etc.

After writing this, I take back what I said about feeling odd having a girlfriend, I’ve now noticed that’s clearly not the problem, the problem is my family, and the vulnerability that comes with them knowing something like this. I would just feel odd and guilty after having treated my girlfriend very nicely, and then I can’t even say a simple “hello” to my own sister or my own dad. I’d feel like a hypocrite, or something.

I’m afraid that the only way this family can be saved is by all of us siblings moving out, and living our own lives, and just not seeing each other for a while, then we can come back and really “start over”. Or maybe this just can’t be fixed.

I apologize for the rant, but I just wanted to be as detailed as possible so that you can clearly understand what’s going on  here. None of this will stop me from being in a relationship with someone special, but what should I do when it comes to telling my parents? And can this dysfunctional family be fixed?

Finally, have you ever heard of a situation like this before? I truly feel alone on this one.

I am an artist that has been drawing since I was four, dabbled in oils for a while then took a ten year break from art all together. I just recently picked it back up about a month ago and with my husband’s blessing I have decided to pursue an art career part-time. There’s a lot of information that I have been reading and researching on the Internet but it can be overwhelming sometimes!

Any advice for beginning artists like me? I have a goal to build up my portfolio to twenty art pieces by the end of this year, and I am currently enrolled in an art business and marketing webinar course online (it’s a 2 month course). I’m reading books, reading tips online, practicing my painting, I have a website and social media pages for my art. Am I missing something? You can be honest with me. I know most people do not think it is realistic to pursue a career as an artist, even part-time.

I have been following your posts about men, women, employment and SAHParent balances and power struggles. I am not sure if this is the right place to ask you, but here it goes.

My passion is acting. My husband is an uber expert in his field of IT. We (Gen Xers) met in college where I was a Theater major, and he a Psycho-biology major who wanted to be a dentist. I wanted to break into the industry, but couldn’t in Los Angeles. We now live in Atlanta with two children. Lately, acting opps are presenting themselves, and I started to do some film/tv work without disruption to my day job.

For the last 15 years I’ve been working full-time jobs I never really cared for, just going through the motion, because being a SAHM does not interest me, and my hubby threatens divorce if I were to quit my job.

I am trying to build a case to give this acting thing a real shot. I can make some income on a weekly basis doing just extra work while doing auditions in between that. He wants me to work steady, predictable jobs. I make less than 1/3 of what he makes (he is in high 100K range). Other than needing to spend less on groceries and vacations, we could survive for awhile on his salary.

Over the years, he seems frustrated that I never “advanced” my career, or appear happy with what I do. I have a physical condition that will lead eventually (probably in a decade) me filing for disability. So between that, and the short window of time to do this, I feel like he is “forcing” me to break apart our family and marriage. I don’t understand this dynamic – a spouse that makes good money and LOVES what he is doing, but equates his wife’s passion as a deal breaker, and not as a career.

How do I negotiate this? Thanks for listening.

PS He now travels a lot in his job, so I am more or less a single parent shuttling the kids to extra curricular activities and doctor’s appointments and helping with homework besides working 8-5pm weekly, Mon-Fri.

I am a twenty-five-year-old ISFJ working as an administrative assistant in an insurance agency. I help the VP of Risk Management with everything and the HR Generalist with various projects. I’ve been here for a year and a half (a little longer than that), and it has been a great first job, but I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with the attitudes of management (the egos and greed are unbelievable) and am looking for a change.

I came across your blog recently, and since you seem responsive, I thought I would take a chance and ask for your input. I see very little on your blog about the right career for an ISFJ, other than being a stay-at-home mom. I would love to be a stay-at-home mom, but I have yet to find a husband, so in the meantime I need to support myself. I have always done well in administrative assistant roles, but have a hard time with motivation if I don’t appreciate the goals of my superiors. How can I find a job that fits me?

Thanks for any help or encouragement you can provide!

I am a 31 year old female (ENFJ) and I currently work in an internal role at a major professional services firm. I am not on a partner track, but there are some good career options down the line.  There are a lot of things I like about my job:

– lots of hours and telecommuting flexibility (I work 40+, but can work from home most of the time and skipping out for appointments and such is never a problem)

– excellent benefits

– interesting projects

However, my job isn’t that hard and I feel that I excel over most of my peers.  I feel that I am not reaching for my full potential and that if I don’t challenge myself in the marketplace, I will never know my full potential. I also feel that if I change jobs, I will make more money. My husband makes good money, but has terrible medical benefits- we use mine. I went to a good school and worked hard most of my life- am I wasting that by not reaching for the stars?

I think having kids is something I will try to do in the next few years. My company has good maternity leave and I would have multiple part-time options to choose from if I wanted. They even pay for fertility treatments if I need them.

Do I have a good thing going on and I just can’t see it? Or am I being dragged down by fear of the unknown? I know juggling kids and a serious career is hard and I am afraid I will regret giving up my sweet deal if I choose a new career and kids. Staying feels like the antithesis of “leaning in”, but I need to be smart about this.