Dealing with Uncertainty / Burnout as a First Year Associate
I'm ~5 months into my 1st year as an associate at a UMM PE. Coming out of 2banking at a relatively sweaty shop, I'm finding it difficult to settle in to my new role. It doesn't help that <50% of associates at my shop last the full two-years and I find a lot of the seniors at my firm to be only fixated on how much money they make rather than firm culture and associate well-being. I recruited on-cycle in my first few months of hitting the desk in IB, so wasn't able to diligence the culture fit at all and went the prestige route because I really didn't know what else there was. I only a few weeks or so in between by IB role ending and the PE job beginning and felt it wasn't enough time to get a mental break, and because of that, am already starting to feel burnout for a few different reasons.
After seeing the two associates I was closest with already quit in my short stint, I'm really finding it difficult to focus and motivate myself. The job is much more stressful than IB (though I find the work more meaningful / interesting) and I'm struggling with living a lifestyle where I'm always on-call, even when things are slow (I find it hard to enjoy when things are lighter since I know others are working and at some point that'll be me). What's really worrying me is that for the past month or so, things have really slowed down (working ~60 / week on average without major weekend work), and I'm still not feeling great about the role. I figured the job would have some certain bad weeks, but the pay and random lighter weeks would make it manageable.
I was always a hard worker in school and in banking (earned top bucket both years), but I haven't been able to get that killer drive back. I've been getting staffed on deals or PortCo's that were all abandoned when people left the firm and finding it hard to get motivated. We're also back in the office, which stings a bit as I'm missing out on the added flexibility WFH allows (e.g., weekend trips, working from a different city, etc.) Because of all this, it's felt more like banking 2.0 than actually investing, and I'm really starting to think I'll leave the firm after bonus season in Summer 2022.
My main question now is what to do next? It's clear my life at this new firm is unsustainable (mental and physical health declining, taking a tole on my relationship because I'm always complaining to my SO (they keep telling me to go to therapy and they can't take it too much longer), not seeing my family or friends as much as I want to), but I now find myself stressing about whatever it is I'll do next. I've considered trying to move to a smaller fund, but frankly, given what I've worked on so far, I don't even know if I like doing deals (haven't gotten past an IOI on any deal I was staffed on that launched after my start date; have been doing all PortCo management and add-ons, which seem worse than platforms) and would be worried I'd still have the resting anxiety and stress that I have now. One of my friends went the CorpDev / CorpStrat route and seems much happier, but I'm wary of giving up that much comp / upside potential and optionality. The start-up route seems attractive in general but it's hard to know you will actually land at the right firm. Consulting even has seemed enticing, given you have a bit more control of your schedule (weekend / vacation-wise), but going back to client services worries me. Business School seems like a logical route, but I'll need time to prep for the GMAT and I'm not sure when I could fit that in. If I end up doing B-school, it might make sense to just grind out two years at my current firm, but not sure I have that in me. I've even thought about going back to banking -- I still have good relationships with my old shop and could likely go back as an ASO2 after a year, but not sure that would solve anything.
Associates the class above me insist that the culture at this firm is worse than others and that's adding to my lack of direction--so I'm currently thinking of moving to a smaller fund / family office where maybe a better culture will lead to better insight into whether I actually like investing. Worst case, if I can last a year at my current shop I'm sure I could last a year at a smaller place, and I'd think I could get out and do B-school after two years as an associate (albeit, at two different firms). Has anyone else felt this anxiety early into their first year or have any tips on how to deal with the added stress / anxiety of not knowing the next step? I've always been the type of person to have a plan, and now that I'm at the end goal of my plan (making it into PE) and not loving it, I'm feeling considerably uncertain about what's next.