I’ve always envied people who have direction. You know. The ones who know where they want to be in life and know which necessary steps to take to achieve those ends. I envy people who can say that they knew early on what they wanted to do with their lives. It must be nice to wake up and know where you’re going to be in a few years from now because you’ve plotted out the trajectory. Sure, life might throw those people a curve ball and upset their plans, but they still know where they’re going.
When I was little, I went through different dream jobs in my head. I wanted to be a singer, but then realized that I lacked the necessary innate talent and drive required to be successful in that arena. Following that, I wanted to be an famous Hollywood actress. That’s an even harder nut to crack so I left that job in Daydream Land. I thought about becoming a doctor but realized that I’m not terribly good at dealing with injured people. I get this wobbly feeling in my knees and just can’t deal. So, then I considered becoming some sort of counselor. Perhaps doling out advice to people who needed it. That was quickly dropped. Every now and again, I toy with the idea of becoming a teacher. Then I wonder if dealing with the testing and bureaucracy is worth it. Since I like what’s left of my sanity, I’ve more or less given up on that idea. The most persistent dream job I’ve had is that of professional writer. Well. You know my relationship with writing so you know where that’s going.
When I graduated High School in 2002, the conventional wisdom was that one simply needed a Bachelor’s Degree in something and one would get a job. Since I had no idea what I felt like doing with my life, I ended up just going to the local, less expensive community college. I got my AA in General Studies and transferred to the University of Maryland where I commuted from home to campus to save money. Also, I realized that I’d forget to eat if I went away to school. Staying home meant that I’d get at least one meal a day thanks to my mother.
I can’t precisely pinpoint when apathy set in. There came a time when I was just done with schoolwork. I was burned out and not in the academic zone. If I could go back in time, I’d give myself a motivational speech or three just to get my ass in gear. Thanks to my malaise, I was barely able to get my GPA up enough to graduate with my BA in 2008. Yep. Instead of taking two years, it took four to get my degree and that barely over 2.0 GPA has limited the sorts of things I could do if I was inclined to head back into academics.
Most of my adult life has been hopping from job to job and it’s not because I get bored and want to leave wherever I’m working at the time. It’s just the changing landscape and the nature of working in this economy. While I was going to school, I was working part-time. I had jobs at restaurants and in retail. I worked for the Montgomery County Public School system as a lunch-time/recess aide. I worked at the front desk of a hotel. I couldn’t work full-time and finish my degree. The classes I needed to take were all scheduled in a clump in the middle of the day, thus limiting a lot of my employment options. I hate having to explain this to people who see over ten years in the workforce with what appears to be a new job almost every year.
My parents have been really supportive throughout all of my trials and tribulations. My friends frequently say that I’ve won the parent lottery and they’re not wrong. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to live at home rent free while I try to figure out where I’m going in life. That said, they aren’t above asking me what I want to do with my life. The only problem is trying to find an answer to that question. I honestly don’t know what I want out of the rest of my life. When I’m at a job interview and they ask me where I see myself in five years, I never know what to say and always find myself saying something inane like “employed” and “living in a place of my own.” It doesn’t seem like a lot, but actually having a job that will last longer than a few months is a weird concept to me. I’m glad to have a job now, even if it’s only part-time. I like the work I do and the people with whom I work. That helps more than people realize.
At one of my last jobs, a coworker told me that I could get any job I wanted. He said I was smart, articulate, and talented. It took me eight months to realize that my best chance for an income was temping (again) and another couple of months after that to get the job I have now. While I was grateful for the encouragement and praise that my old coworker gave me, I couldn’t help but feel undeserving of it. I always feel like my job hunt is some Sisyphean task where I’ll be constantly on some uphill climb. Most days, I feel that I’ll never reach the top of whatever mountain I have before me. It’s a hard world out there when you don’t know what you want, can’t seem to quantify the skills you have, and have no idea how to market said skills in a way that’ll make people want to hire you.
I don’t need to be rich or famous. I just want to be economically independent. Now, if I could find a way to make “being geeky” a viable career path. . .
*** Bonus points will be awarded to anyone who can identify the origin of this post’s title.