Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Career Angst

I should get up early more often. Or maybe I should never do it again.

I got up at 6:30 this morning with a clear head and some ideas for work, and once I got them out in a list and emailed to myself, I started thinking in general about my life's direction and long term goals. It occurred to me that I have no idea where I want to be career-wise in a couple years. Obviously I can't stay where I am forever, but since I ended up here rather accidentally I think I have lost touch with what I want to do in general.

In fact, I don't think I really had anything in mind. I studied English in college, and really enjoyed it, but never thought about what I would do afterwards. It boggles my mind to think about how clueless I was then. I would just graduate from college and get a job, and then figure it all out. I guess that is sort of what happened, but I really wish I had done some more of the career experimentation before graduating, say with internships like every frigging kid in college seems to do now. Why did that not even occur to me?

So I really tried to simplify and think about what I might like to do with my time and was frustrated to find that I really just don't know. I like literature, I like writing, I like animals, I like helping people... I have a lot of vague interests, but nothing that really stands out as a calling.

Yesterday I briefly entertained (again) the idea of going to law school, because I find the law very interesting. But I don't want to be a lawyer. So how could I justify the expense? Sure a lot of people with law degrees go on to do other things, but I think it's usually by accident, not by design. I know I don't want to run for office after everything I've seen, so... I don't know. End of the road on that line of thought I guess.

A conversation with a friend this morning got me thinking about going back to school to get my PhD in English. I know I would enjoy it. It would be a lot of work to get in, with the GREs and writing samples, etc etc. Where would it take me? At the end I could be a professor, and have time and money (other people's money) to devote to academic pursuits. That's appealing to me, but something inside me says I can't really do it. John will object to me spending money on that kind of education, or I just wouldn't be able to cut it, or I could never get a teaching job.

All I know is I really do want to use my brain for something. I wish in a way I had just gone straight from undergraduate into graduate studies because then I would have gotten as qualified as I could be and I wouldn't have had to wake up to the real world until I had all that under my belt. But I wouldn't be where I am today, with a great relationship and some experiences which I wouldn't trade for the world, without the last 7 years going the way they have gone. It's just so hard to jump back into it when I've been away so long. If I went back to Rutgers I would have to submit a 10-20 page paper to show my skill for literary criticism. I haven't flexed that muscle since 1999. I am pretty sure I could do it, but would it be good enough? I think my reflections on literature might be a little more valid with the life experience I've had, but I can't say I remember particularly well how to do it all. Bibliography? AAAH!

I don't want to just continue letting life happen to me, because it feels terribly passive and I keep waking up every couple years having a Talking Heads moment (how did I get here?). I've got to focus on this question, and make a real decision soon.


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