Subversive Shrink: Post-Graduate Malaise

Posted May 9, 2016 in

Dear Subversive Shrink,

I spent years in graduate school. I spent tons of money and time to get a fancy degree, and years later I find myself often wondering if I am “cut out” for the work that I do. I’m young, but I have zero interest in going back to school to try again at picking the right career for me. How do I overcome this impending burnout?


Asleep at the Wheel

Dear Asleep at the Wheel,

I feel your pain—as someone who shares the badge of grad school survival, I extend an imaginary empathetic pat on the back to you. The “American Dream” promised prosperity and payback for the efforts deposited into the system along the way. Many of us have either entered school in the waking reality of this myth or, like myself, graduated college right into the depths of the Great Recession and a dream deferred.

I was recently having a discussion with a colleague about the mindset of scarcity, or the constant creeping sense of fear of loss or lack of resources. Scarcity resonates with me as a product of the post-recession’s hypervigilance. We are so afraid of scarcity that we exist in scarcity at all times … often needlessly. This is not because we are mentally ill or incapable—it is because we have been raised by in a traumatized social schema.

The antidote to scarcity is adundance. An abundance mentality consists of gratitude and joy in the smaller yet powerful sensations of growth, along with a willingness to enter boldly and courageously into our fear and choose to move through it. It also means knowing our worth and what we bring to the world and being willing to seek spaces and opportunities that feed our souls and cultivate our gifts. So I ask you this, Asleep at the Wheel: How can you place your scarcity mindset on the shelf and practice abundance? How would that change the choices that you’ve made in your work and beyond? What risks would you take if you could feel your fear and do it anyway? 

In solidarity,

The Subversive Shrink

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