Blog 07

Career Conflict: The Naked Truth

Around Aug 2020, I got a call from a student in his second year of graduation. A sportsperson and fitness enthusiast he got into one of the most prestigious colleges through the sports quota. His starting statements to me, “Ma’am, actually am not interested in academics at all. I love playing sports and am an excellent footballer. Since the past many months, we have not had any matches due to CO-VID. During this time, I happened to audition for a modelling assignment and I got the job sometime back and now as assignments come my way, I already earn over Rs.50,000/- per month.”

Hmm, by now I started to wonder what his challenge or query was. So here was his real dilemma. To bag the next assignment, or to grow further in his modelling journey he was being asked to pose/model naked. He explained how he came from a decent family with both parents being in government jobs earning modestly. He was not brought up with this system of values and he found this situation very conflicting. So, he consulted his girlfriend who without any doubt stated that if he wasn’t interested in academics and if he didn’t know that this is how the modelling industry worked then he is not taking anything seriously!! Also, accepting this indecent proposal meant his monthly income would go up to lacs of rupees.

Unable to talk to his friends or family about his challenge, he reached out to an outside counsellor (“me”) for advice. The parent and well-wisher in me wanted to tell him to STOP! There was no justification for this indecent proposal. The psychologist in me knew that I will need to help him work through his conflict and do a value clarification exercise so he is able to make the choices for himself.

I heard the tremble in his voice and I knew I needed him to relax, breathe, think through while I facilitate the process. He insisted, “Ma’am, all I want to know from you is, should I accept as this is how the industry works?”

Hmm, did he only wanted affirmation from a psychologist so he felt less guilty about proceeding? I explained to him with my most earnest and persuasive tone that I was very keen to help him through this. For this we needed to talk for some time, trust was already there as he had shared what was bothering him.

The call dropped. And my text suggesting a follow up call for the day received no response.

So here were his career ambitions as I could see them.

Even with the best of intentions and a facilitative approach to assisting this aspiring model through his conflict, I found myself unable to help.

Two months later If I am writing about it, it is because these interactions really make me think. I do feel that “money” and “success” are exaggerated values in our capitalistic society. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the “need for instant/quick gratification”. And you have a set of social values that are creating havoc in people’s hearts and minds. This challenge of balancing the scales between profit and integrity has many versions that are played out repeatedly in people’s lives.

If you read this article through till here, thank you for reading! Please do share your thoughts and reflections too.

  • What should the aspiring model do?
  • What could I have done differently to help?
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