Dealing with Loneliness


Hey guys,

Preface: I’m not seeking anyone’s pity here - just want to know if anyone has been in a similar situation and how they dealt with it.

I’m currently a 2nd year IB analyst, working at a MM shop. My hours are just about as bad as anybody else’s, and I’ve just found the 80 hour work weeks to be nearly unbearable during this time.

I’m not sure how to deal with my stress on the job, and all I do is sulk in it in my studio. I come from a rough background - lost my mom when I was a kid and my dad somewhat recently. I clawed my way into IB from a non-target and was lucky to get a shot. I would say my mental health was always in pretty decent shape throughout my analyst stint. Recently however, it has taken everything in me not to break down from the stress, and it’s impacting my work quality/ ability to think clearly. I don’t have much family in the states and have no friends in the city I relocated to for this job.

I want to continue to be the top-bucket, hard-working non-target kid that I’ve been since I started, but I just can’t stare at my screen anymore. I can’t quit because I need the money.. my savings won’t last long in this city.

I need help, I feel alone, and don’t know where to turn. I have no family, and no friends nearby. I’m afraid of opening up to a fellow analyst in fear that they would tell somebody else (mind you there are only a couple other analysts). Not being able to go out very much has uncovered some underlying pain.

Has anyone else gone through something similar? How did you get through it? By quitting? Moving closer to home?


Comments (38)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
May 16, 2020 - 9:37pm

Money and reputation mean nothing if you're so stressed and unhappy. Some things are clearly more important in life than being in the "top-bucket." You're already winning in life. Speak with a colleague about it. Last thing you want to do is keep it in yourself and hide it.

May 16, 2020 - 9:39pm

Not sure what to say but I am sorry that you are feeling this way and I think that it is a good idea to share how you are feeling so I respect that and maybe your coworker is feeling the same way as you are you would never know unless you asked him how he is doing.

May 16, 2020 - 9:54pm

What you are describing is actually one of my big concerns with junior employees and I am sorry you are going through this. So many junior employees have moved to a new city, live alone (or with roommates), don’t have family close by, and are under a lot of stress (first job, overworked, don’t have financial stability to unwind or do something different). That’s not to say it’s ok, it is incredibly tough, but I think many people will understand the issue, and I don’t think there is any one answer on how to make things “better”.

I would check your benefits, many firms offer mental health benefits (psychologists to talk with, etc) and if you are concerned about telling your coworkers this seems like a reasonable path to go down. And speaking with a professional is usually a better path. Many firms have expanded these benefits during this time.

Outside of that, I echo the sentiment that your health and happiness is what is most important in these situations. Any manager worth anything will recognize this and make the appropriate accommodations to make sure their employees have a reasonable work life balance in a stressful time like this.

I would take some time to unwind and think through what you think would make you happy (learning on those you trust for advice). I find it easier to make decisions after thinking through it in a calmer setting, as rushing to a decision can lead you down another unhappy path (think what you want now, what you want in the future, what it will feel like, and try and separate the current covid situation from how things will hopefully be).

In the immediate I find that blocking off time when possible for things I want to do (and can do in this environment, so exercise, reading, studying something new, even setting aside 30 mins for lunch) has helped keep me balanced.

And as far as social interactions, I’m not sure where you are, but clearly with the restrictions in place that is hard. But there are several online events (game nights, happy hours, cocktail making classes, classes in general) that at least get you to see other people, even if on a computer screen.

Anyway, I’d definitely find people you trust you can speak with, including professionals, as I think they will help. Hope things get better for you soon.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 16, 2020 - 10:07pm

I'm only a year out of school, but definitely have dealt with loneliness as well. I moved 1,000 miles for college and another 1,000 for my first job. For me, thinking about getting older and how fast time seems to fly by gets me down sometimes--this coupled with trying to maintain career goals and aspirations can certainly be a lot to grapple with.

Something I've been doing, especially with more WFH is trying to get back to things I used to do in high school or have always wanted to do, but haven't.

I'll go to the golf course on weekends, write down a daily thought each day, do some baking during breaks in the day, or make sure to exercise or go for daily walks during lunch.

I think this has really helped me feel like I've retained part of my old self before college or entering the workforce and reconcile how time seems to fly by and also get myself out of my comfort zone a bit, especially in a new city and environment.

I don't have too many friends either, but I'm definitely more of an introvert and have realized over the years that some of the embarrassment probably stems from wanting to adhere to social norms or FOMO rather than actually truly caring. Also, knowing that this is just a stage of my life right now helps me keep things in perspective.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Ind
May 16, 2020 - 10:31pm

Don't have much in the way of advice, but just want you to know that far more people deal with loneliness than they'll let on. As someone who also deals with this, I take some solace in that, at least.

Show me the incentive and I'll show you the outcome.
May 16, 2020 - 10:57pm

I've experienced this, especially with gyms, bars, etc. closed during quarantine. All my close friends live elsewhere, so I try to call / FT each one every 1-2 months to catch up. Even exchanging just a few texts every now and then makes me feel more connected.

I make time for 1-2 walks daily to get fresh air and exercise. It allows me to clear my mind and focus on work. I've also found it helpful to listen to music or try to get back into old hobbies.

Seeking help from a professional will help most, but you'd be suprised at how supportive and understanding your friends can be if you're willing to open up to them. Some of them may even be experiencing similar things.

Mental health is paramount -- you're taking a huge step by recognizing you're struggling and asking for help. Remember that you don't have to go through this alone and things can get better. Good luck and feel free to PM if you want someone to talk to.

May 16, 2020 - 11:02pm

Text groups with work people or college friends might help. Everyone in kind of stuck at home and the shooting the shit helps

May 16, 2020 - 11:11pm

The social isolation and lack of ability to be out and about is very rough. You're basically in solitary!
Maybe you don't have to fully open up to the other analysts, but you can connect with one or two - maybe have a virtual Zoom or whatever a couple times a week, lunchtime, or evening, just to shoot the breeze. Loneliness has been written about in the WSJ, it is literally a societal issue and known to be a huge one, causing all sorts of physical and mental responses. So you are not strange, or alone in this.
I would imagine there is some way to get mental health counseling etc, but honestly, I think you just need to connect with anyone you can - really set times to speak to friends back home, or whatever family there is. Quitting your job isn't really going to likely solve the issue.
I think being outdoors for breaks is important. You can't sit at your desk in your apartment all day. The physical activity will also help you. Eat clean - carbs and sugar, junk food, can really mess with your emotions.
I'm so sorry and sad to hear about your parents, and how stressful the job is, and how crappy you're feeling. Deep breath, one day at a time. Keep in mind this is not forever, weather is getting nicer, get out in the sunshine. When you have downtime, find any way to connect with others or participate in hobbies and activities even if they are online. Anything interactive. Maybe even an online exercise class.

May 16, 2020 - 11:56pm

Hey - thanks for reaching out.

I'm sorry to hear that you've lost your mom and dad, and can't imagine the impact that must have on you. I want to commend you for reaching out regarding your mental health, which is an under-discussed (and often stigmatized) topic in our industry.

I can relate to what you're going through to some extent - when I first moved up into NYC, I was completely alone and had no one to talk to from a social standpoint. I would often to go restaurants and eat by myself. This - coupled with the fact that I've also been an introvert by nature - lead me to spend months on months in my studio by myself on nights and weekends.

The thing you have to realize, is that your thought process is a feedback loop. The stories you tell yourself are your reality - if you tell yourself that your life is difficult, your actions will function in a consistent way to make this true. On the contrary, if you tell yourself that your life is great, your actions will also function in a consistent way to make this true. I'm not making these statements to detract from your experiences - I'm making them to frame the context that I'm about to talk about.

We all have things that occur in our life that throw us off balance - it's up to you to discern what you can and can't control. If you can't control something, why are you worrying about it?

Let's look at the controllables:

Career: What's your game plan? Where do you want to be? How badly do you want to work in said career? How can you get there efficiently? Is there another career path that you can pursue that can eliminate your stress levels while serving as a proxy for Banking? Take some time and think through these questions and write them down on paper - not on a computer. Internalize your motivations/reasons for doing what you are doing. Is Banking really the end all be all for you? I personally believe that there is no substitute for your happiness. Life is way too short - and unpredictable. At the end of the day, personally, I want to look back on everything and say that I had a great run at it - and that I felt fulfilled pursuing what was important to me.

Social: Do you have any friend groups at all in your city? Do you have friend groups that aren't in your city? Why don't you connect with your friends who may not be your city and talk? Any other family members you can rely on?

I know now isn't the best time to be going around and doing things (in light of lockdown), but if you're a Tennis Player (as an example), join a local team or sign up for lessons / tournaments. Determine what you're passionate about, and you're bound to meet people that are likeminded in pursuit of the same things you are.

Mental: This one is a bit trickier, but to reference what some other members have said, if you find yourself mentally slipping with no control, please talk to a therapist or psychologist. Forget what the peanut gallery says about mental health; I know quite a few successful people on the street (ranging from bankers to investment guys) that use a therapist / psychologist to help them. I'm a huge advocate of outside perspective, and I've found it quite useful in my life.

In tandem, I highly recommend you spend at least 1-2 hours a day doing something you enjoy. I know that you mentioned you work 80 hours a week, but in your "downtime", try hitting some workout routines, writing, reading, or even meditating (something which I have highly recommended and continue to recommend). Again, I know that current conditions make normal activities tough, but find something that you enjoy. For me, I've started writing again - which has been refreshing and a great way to clear my mind after work.

I myself, along with a number of members on WSO, have all had to deal with underlying pain. Sometimes it takes a long time to learn on how to deal with said pain - but the important thing to note is that you need to keep moving forward. Life is dynamic, and things are consistently changing - how can you change positively with the times while controlling the things you can and letting go of the things you can't?

Think about a game plan for each of the points I've laid out above, and see what you can do to execute on them. You'll find that instead of mulling on your situation, you can allocate time to the things that are important to your life (and your growth), and you'll find that this will endow you with a new sense of purpose, motivation, and satisfaction.

Always happy to help provide clarity, so PM with any questions - or if you want to chat.

May 17, 2020 - 3:52am

I have found exercise to always be the answer for me.

Now with the gyms closed I go for a run every day regardless of weather and it always helps. Also, what you eat very much impacts your mental health too.

As for social stuff I try to put myself out there a bit more and start talking to some gym regulars and went from there. Personally I wouldn't "open up" with people at work, especially when you don't know them well.

May 17, 2020 - 5:31am


Sorry for your lost, and the difficulties you’re encountering right now. One thing you should hold on to and be proud of is your dynamic attitude, consistency and determination. You never gave up in your pursuit of IB, and when you got the chance you hit the road running. Target/Non-Target, doesn’t matter. You’re star potential because you held your grit and fortitude during difficult times. I honestly commend you for this.
I know the pain is tough right now, but there will be a time in the future where you look back at this and admire your progress till now. Many people have mentioned great things to do in your free time to keep the mind in sync, I could also add, by saying understand your reasons for doing things, your goals, the roots of your sadness and the demands required from you of life. You’re a great person and I really hope things go well for you. Thanks for sharing your message.

And do not be ashamed about loneliness, it’s something felt strongly by everyone whether they choose to conceal it or not. But it’s up to you whether this feeling will bring about change in your life for the good or the worse.

Wish you the very best!

May 17, 2020 - 10:34am

What you can do is start working on a plan for when the lockdown ends. Your main issue seems to be that outside work you don't have much of a life (and I get the 80 hours weeks). Try to chat up a few coworkers, see if you have common interests, see if you can find ways to hang out maybe even once a week.

Ideally, you want to pursue a couple of hobbies that make you meet people and give you enough socialization to compensate the long working hours. Also start looking for a partner too, there's no alternative to that.

May 17, 2020 - 12:50pm

Hang in there OP. I'm lonely myself and I wish I had more friends. I wish I could get invited to Zoom happy hours. The sad thing is, if reach out to certain people it's viewed as desperate :/

I would find a therapist and after lockdown join a social/sports club.

Greed is Good!
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
May 17, 2020 - 3:58pm

OP, I'm sorry to hear the difficulties you're facing. I'm in a very similar situation too and am really considering some mental therapy soon. Your having overcame a lot of adversities is inspiring, I hope you'll get through this soon.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

May 17, 2020 - 4:06pm

Hey man, sorry to hear about the difficulties and know that its completely natural to feel this way especially in this state of the world. Keep your head up, try to progress yourself, go outside and get air, and honestly talk to someone. Hell you can PM me if you want. But dont let the weakness you feel today let you give up what you've been working towards for the past half decade.

May 17, 2020 - 6:32pm

Lots of good advice above. I'll pepper in some thoughts - and you can take or discard whichever may be of fit.

  • Therapy - talking things out can be helpful for some ppl. Perhaps you should find an in-person or online therapist.

  • Cultivate a circle of internal friends - This may take some active scheduling of time. But I knew one guy that made sure every Friday 2nd half of day he scheduled time with peers and senior management. For my class, we made sure we got drinks across the street every Friday afternoon. Other people try to make sure they have lunch or coffee with a new colleague every day. Do not underestimate how important human contact is. Plus it will help your career - so it's a double win.

  • Cultivate a circle of external friends - One of the most isolating things about IB is that it takes up all your time, and does so in ways that are unpredictable to your schedule. You miss birthdays, dinners and nights out with friends. Soon those people who care about you start to make plans without you and you start getting left out. That's why surviving IB requires you actively cultivating your friend network. I had a virtual outreach to friends where I sent an email to them often to share little jokes and tidbits, so that even if I was stuck behind a monitor people still knew I existed and cared about them. More recently I've started a coule of Whatsapp-based workouts. I do a 20 minute HIIT burndown in the morning and another at 7am and 8pm sharp. I rope in my friends to join me. Working out at home saves commute time to gym, and I have a built-in accountability from friends. Plus they all know they can join.

  • Get your body and nutrition right - I had the privilege of my bank being in the tower as the gym. It meant I could always hop in the elevator and go down a few floors and find exercise. Our work schedule was of course unpredictable, but I had an understanding boss and if there was a lull time with us waiting on some info or return of document, I'd ask him if he minded if I popped down for a quick workout. He seldom minded, and he came to appreciate this as part of my keeping myself sharp for the desk. I quickly also made some friends in the gym so it served a dual purpose. Irrespective of where your gym is, if you can get yourself someplace close to work where you can go, and can get your boss onboard, this can really help. Nutrition also helps me keep my mind intact. I found when I dropped dairy and eggs from my diet I was less prone to depression, and if I have a few eggs I get headaches and depression. I keep things super clean no-oil plant-based, but you may choose to go with another diet. Whatever you do, recognize that the fuel you power your body with is key.

  • Sleep - ok so this part suuuuucks. You never have enough time to sleep. So make sure the sleep you do get is high quality. Hack it. Use a face mask, blackout curtains, and use sounds (like MP3 of ocean sounds) to drop you quickly into deep sleep. There's an old US Airforce technique for making yourself fall asleep faster by intentionally relaxing your body one part at a time in succession. You can Youtube it. Some people also swear by melatonin. Look into that too. Also hydrate well an hour before bed, avoid screentime if you can, and pee before you sleep.

  • Suicide Hotlline isn't just for suicides - If you're really down in the dumps you can call SH anytime for a 5-15 minute chat with someone who cares. The line is staffed by volunteers who, despite not knowing you personally, are there to give you a hug across the phone line and make sure you're safe. Don't abuse the privilege, but if you're really staring down the abyss reach out and let them know.

  • Come to WSO - this place isn't all about BS about fashion watches or critiquing people's CVs. If you need help, let people here know. DM people. Many on the site have been in that tough spot and have empathy for another person going thru the same. Your friends from home that aren't in IB may not be able to relate, but people on this site sure can. There's a lot of people here with open doors should you reach out to them.

  • Religion - I don't even care if you think God exists. Religion isn't about worship for everyone, for a lot of people it's a needed community gathering for the tribe and nothing more. If you can get yourself to a small or mid-sized church / synagogue / temple you will have instant community. There's love and community there if you can tap into it. For me, I'm Jewish but not religious. So I show up super late at 11 or 11.30 (services started at 9am Saturday) way past all the boring prayer stuff, but in time for lunch and drinks at noon. People came to depend on me showing up. And actually a few business things eventually came out of there too.

May 17, 2020 - 9:59pm

I just want to say point out that loneliness comes in one way or another and it has been difficult for me to develop trustworthy relationships after university as the people I've met want to take advantage of your situation and they can tell how desparate you're.

At the same time, after a year or more out of university, your past "friends" also change because I've seen them hit "plateaus" in their life and want to spend more time with you just to acquire the knowledge you've spent so long and hard to build while they were partying and enjoying the most out of themselves. I know that lonleliness is definitely very damaging and one of the worst feelings as prison inmates are sent to solitary confinement as one of of the worst punishments. At the same time, you should not allow yourself to fall into despair by becoming someone that'll go out of their way to get rid of loneliness like I did.

I think what I'm trying to say is to be weary of the people you meet as well as past people that show up in your life, as they should've been with you sooner before you even experienced lonliness. I do believe that meeting people who have the same interests as you and are in a relatively higher position in life than you can create a better relationship because they don't need your help on their life and are just passionate in the same thing you're passionate about. This is why some WSO posts are so great because people are genuinely interestsed in finance and are willing to help out because most of them are generally in a well-positioned place.

May 17, 2020 - 10:03pm

Very Important - you need to get regular exercise outdoors in the sunlight. go for a 30 minute run in the morning everyday plus a few sets of burpees and pushups (this is need the sunlight + the exercise where your hearbeat stays up). easy solution is just run away from where you live for 15 minutes, stop and do burpees and pushups, then turn around and run home...and look at the sky to get sunlight

8am-10pm mon-fri (14*5 =70) + 5 hours a day sat+sun is about 80 hours

this seems pretty normal to me and i've been doing it for years...what are you complaining about?
if you are over stressed, then the stress is probably don't exercise regularly and that is what is causing your problem.

May 20, 2020 - 6:17pm

Please consider seeing a therapist on weekends. It has become so foolishly stigmatized but it is exponentially better than trying to suppress your sentiments by moping around. It may help to remember that ultimately our problems aren't even real; our egos are so strong that we are biologically wired to think our existence matters whereas simply "zooming out" of the situation will help you realize it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

May 20, 2020 - 6:36pm

Please don't talk about unethical things like paying people to do stuff with you. This is a kid-friendly forum. We have kids talking about what middle school to attend so please don't corrupt them at such a young age.

Will update my computer soon and leave Incognito so I will disappear forever. How did I achieve Neanderthal by trolling? Some people are after me so need to close account for safety.
May 21, 2020 - 1:39am

During WFH, there's limited things we can do. I'd recommend meditation, it has really helped me personally. Join online communities or use social apps to have some real conversations. Even light conversations don't mean they ain't meaningful.

May 21, 2020 - 8:08am

Exercise, plan your exit strategy (whether that's PE or different industry in a new city), adopt a puppy, buy a bicycle, and if you're in NYC, go out for an outside drink at the bars this weekend and make some new friends.

May 21, 2020 - 10:58am

I'm so sorry to hear - I feel like this is a common experience with many of us. I lived through the same episode as you did when I was back in banking and found it extremely difficult to chat about this with colleagues. Just know, you're not alone!

Since leaving banking, I've found finance much more interesting/engaging and rewarding. While there is no "perfect" shop, perhaps it makes sense to explore making a move?

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