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A Friend Chose My Same Career Path and I Just Can’t Handle It

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Hello, I am a designer and I have worked super hard for the past 8 years to try to succeed in my career. It has been a real rough path for me, because it’s a difficult and overcrowded field, the economy, etc ..and I had my dreams crushed and I have changed fields within the design area a few times: I have always been an enthusiastic hard worker but I’ve just met very difficult people over and over, as mentors, managers, etc, I lost chances because I was feeling also depressed about it all for a while. A professional helped me and to make me focus on what I’ve learned and on my worth as a professional.

Flash forward to today, I just lost my position due to the Covid, and I am now working hard to be a freelancer.

Well, my close friend has just gone through an uncertain career-wise year herself, and because she couldn’t succeed as a freelancer in her area of design, she now just decided to switch to my area of expertise, even tho she still has little experience with it.

Well, the problem? It simply infuriates me. I am sorry to feel these feelings because I know they don’t make sense, but irrational feelings don’t always do. I know she has every right to try to find the right path just like I am doing, but the idea of her succeeding where I am struggling so much fills me with rage and jealousy.
I also believe she chose this path because she witnessed my few couple of successes here.

I know I am feeling this way because I am not satisfied with my own results: if I had an established career, I wouldn’t feel threatened, but I would even be happy to mentor my friends.

I can see how the friendship would begin to be difficult: now I don’t feel comfortable about sharing insights with her, I don’t see how we could go to networking events together (like we were talking about), if we both would want to pitch ourselves to the same person, I hated for her to find out about my website, so that she could catch up with some tools I used she still needed to learn (it happened)..
I even find myself hating her work (which I don’t really like, it might be a matter of taste).

I don’t want to live this way. I have always considered myself an open and loving person with my dear ones, and in these circumstances, I am not able to do it and it makes me really nervous and uncertain because I feel threatened in such a delicate area of my life, where I am wounded, with low self-confidence, where I invested so many years, money, and time..
I even considered trying to talk to her about it but honestly, I don’t even know where to begin, because I know I am wrong and I shouldn’t feel this way, I am ashamed of these feelings. And I don’t think it would benefit the friendship, at all.

Thank you in advance for your response and help! I really appreciate it. (From the USA)

A Friend Chose My Same Career Path and I Just Can’t Handle It

Answered by on -


I can fully appreciate your reaction. On the one hand, you have been an inspiration to her. She was drawn to the field because of your success. But on the other hand, it sounds like she is ill-prepared to move into the area of design that you specialize in.

I admire the fact that you are taking the time to study your reaction. This type of curiosity in our own thoughts and feelings toward others gives us the best opportunity for a correction.

Typically the general rule in these situations is to move toward the conflict. The work is to try and see what is happening differently. Instead of viewing her as an adversary that is interloping into your territory, it might be worth it to discuss with her the ways you can help each other, pool your advertising resources, and social network advertising. There is a terrific book called Powers of Two by Joshua Wolf Shenk that talks about partnerships. I believe this may help if you try to think of this as an opportunity rather than a conflict.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

A Friend Chose My Same Career Path and I Just Can’t Handle It

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). A Friend Chose My Same Career Path and I Just Can’t Handle It. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 16 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 Jul 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 16 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.