28-year-old Harvard grad who quit his $200,000 job: Here’s the biggest downside of success ‘no one talks about’

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In 2018, after graduating from Harvard Law School, I landed my dream job at a top law firm in California. I was just 24 years old and making $200,000 a year, including bonuses.

From the outside, it looked like I was happy and thriving in my career.

But here’s the biggest downside of success that no one talks about: the deep anxiety — and eventual depression — that often goes ignored.

From Harvard Law to severe anxiety and depression

My grandmother and I were very close. After she passed away during my last year of college, I started experiencing frequent panic attacks and gastrointestinal problems.

I went through a cycle of stool tests, ultrasounds, and eventually an endoscopy under anesthesia. At certain points, I couldn’t eat, exercise or even hold conversations because I was so sick.

But the doctors kept telling me the same thing: “You look perfectly healthy, you just have to get your stress under control.”

When the pandemic hit in 2020, my mental health spiraled even more, and I found myself unable to keep up with my workaholic habits. I finally met with a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with severe anxiety and mild depression.

That wasn’t what I expected after working so hard to get to the top. At the same time, however, having an official diagnosis forced me to redefine what success meant to me.

So in July 2021, I quit my job as a corporate attorney to focus on my mental health, and it has changed my life for the better. With the additional breathing room, I was able to stay more disciplined with healthy routines.



Julian Sarafian, a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Law School quit his $200,000-per-year job in 2021 to manage his anxiety and depression.  Photo: Julian Sarafian



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