Do you feel uncertain of a career option? Do you lack the freedom to choose a subject that you really want to pursue? Do you always feel low on self-confidence? Are you constantly doubting yourself? A Q&A column by Nandini Raman, practising counsellor and trainer, to assuage your doubts.

I am 20 years old and pursuing B.Com from Delhi University. After finishing my second-year I decided to prepare for CAT. But, this is not the actual reason for my decision. My passion is music, but I am not confident as I have never learnt music. I belong to a lower-middle-class family where I cannot afford to take the risk of pursuing my passion without any backup, since we have only one earning member. I want to pursue MBA because it will give me income to invest in my passion. But, I fear that once I get into the corporate world, I will never be able to pursue my passion. Please help. – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

You seem passionate about music, however; it is a hobby. Please find some classes in the genre and style that you like and explore it further and test the waters. On a whim and a basic romantic notion to pursue music and postpone your academic endeavours and future prospects (B.Com for starters), is not advisable, at 20. Start music classes and see if you even enjoy them the way you do now. That is the litmus test. It doesn’t hurt to prepare for a profession that can lend its financial support to your hobby till you get the break. Look out for talent shows and opportunities where you can showcase your talent and build your confidence.

I am 28 and work as a temporary staff in a leading public sector bank. I am preparing for the bank exams. Though I have attempted many such exams, I have failed. I am the only one to take care of my family financially. It doesn’t help that I constantly have negative thoughts and am not able to concentrate on my exam prep and work. How do I gain self confidence? — Balaji. V, Erode

Is banking something you are really passionate about or is it a mere means to an end? What are these negative thoughts about, beyond the visible failure that you feel at 28? What are the other successes and joys that you have experienced so far? I understand you need to work to support the family. What and where else would you enjoy working? What are your educational qualifications? What you resist persists. Would it be possible for you to see a professional therapist to assess the situation and rule out possible over thinking, negative thought pattern and underlying depression?

I am 18 and have completed my class XII PCMB in which I scored 70%. I love writing and want to pursue psychology or English. My family is going through some serious financial problems, so, people are suggesting that I pursue a course that assures a job with good salary. They say that if I join an arts course, I won’t get a job quickly. Recently, I got an admission to a five-year integrated BCA-MCA course. Though it has good career opportunities, honestly, I am not good with computers. I am confused whether to pursue an arts degree or join the BCA-MCA course. Please help me — Arundhathi

Dear Arundhathi,

Gone are the days when only a ‘professional or a technical course’ could assure you good salaries. I work with engineers who are struggling with jobs that pay them a mere ₹15,000-20,000 a month, and I also have clients who have basic education to speak of and make ₹80,000-1 lakh a month. Unfortunately, today it is not education alone that ensures that you get a handsome salary.

I understand that you have an admission to BCA-MCA, but you don’t seem excited and keen. What is the point then? My intent is not to downplay the importance of technical and professional courses but to help you identify a subject that you believe you will be happy studying for the next three-to-five years to eventually build a professional career for yourself. Identify what you like about psychology, and what about English fascinates you. Speak to four-to-five people who have chosen these subjects and made it a career choice and ask them about how they are fairing in life. What are the various choices, streams that you can branch out into and what would you want to do with your time six years from now? Please try and meet a career counsellor if you are not able to get clarity on your own.

I am M. Sathish Kumar. I have scored 490 marks in SSLC and 1170 marks in HSC. I am from a poor background, so I worked hard in class X and XII. My mother was a house maid and my brother works as a data entry operator. I am studyingmy first-year B.Com general in Loyola College, and want to pursue IAS. I don’t know how to prepare for the tests., and whether I should start preparing now or after three years. I have no time for extra studies as I spend the whole day studying to ensure I score well now. — Sathish kumar

Dear Sathish,

It is great to see your grit and ‘fire in the belly’ coming from such a humble background. Good luck for the UPSC exams. Where there is a will, there certainly is a way. The candidate for this exam needs be a graduate in any subject, so, concentrate on your B.Com. The eligibility age in general category is 21-32 years.

Your preparation should be aligned with the UPSC civil services exam cycle, which has three stages — prelims, mains and interview. These have a fixed schedule — June (for prelims), Nov/Dec (for the mains) and March/April (for the interviews). Each of these have specific syllabus. and the information is available on

You will benefit from coaching classes from a reputed institute or an online class. Study material is available and accessible on the Internet. Set your mind on your goal and work towards it.

Disclaimer: This column is not a substitute for long-term therapy. It is merely a guiding voice. Some issues may need medical intervention.

The author is a practising counsellor and a trainer. She will answer questions sent to

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