Friday, February 26, 2010

various things about the future that i am freaking out about

Too many questions, no answers.

What if I don't get into any grad schools?
Already been rejected from 2. I don't have the background for anyone to even want me in this field (public history/museums). I don't even know if I have the background or know-how to be any good in this field.

What if I don't get any internship this summer?
If I apply to museum stuff, nobody will take me, since I have exactly 0 experience working in museums. If I do computer science stuff, I might not enjoy it, and I'm not even any good at it anyway.

What if I graduate with nothing?
No grad school, no internship, no job.

Do I even know what I want to do?
I thought I did. Now I am not so sure. There are way too many things I'm interested in. I cannot just focus on one thing. This is why I never want to do a PhD. This is why most of the programs I applied to have a non-thesis option. I hate having to concentrate and focus in on one thing. It's so narrow. I like knowing a little bit about a ton of things. I like being able to do all sorts of things. My whole life exemplifies this. Over the past 8-10 years I have gone around and tried so many different things. I switch it up all the time. Sports, clubs, foods even, traveling, hobbies. I can't just focus on one thing, and I lose interest after a while, or it's just not as fun anymore. This is half the reason I stopped running track, besides the fact that my foot started hurting again. It just wasn't doing it for me anymore. It's why I'm playing IM basketball right now. It's why I can't focus on Knitting for Nets anymore. It's why I hated my last semesters' all-computer-science-all-the-time classes. It's why I made it a priority to do soccer and theater and academic team and honor societies and everything else I did in high school, so I wouldn't get bored with just one thing. It's why I've done soccer, frisbee, track, cross country, Hillel, knit night, poetry club, ducks academic team, robotics club, tae kwon do, wics, and I don't even know what else over the course of college, and why those are all mostly in the past tense now. I get bored or burned out or just want to try something new. I have half a dozen needlepoint projects sitting at home because one summer I got really interested in them, started a few, and then lost interest. I like finishing projects, I really do, but sometimes I just can't because it's not fun anymore.

Interestingly, this phenomenon hasn't ever happened with my friends or with plants. Maybe it just doesn't apply to living things, which is more than fine with me. I quite enjoy my friends and my plants.

But I worry about this particular way of living. I do not fit in with normal society. Normal society says that you should figure out this one thing you're passionate about, go to school for it, get a career in it, and stay in that career for your whole life till you retire. I can't do that, I just simply can't. I do not want a career. Not now. Probably not ever, because I've had this mentality for the past like 20 years and I don't see it changing anytime soon. I want to try out a ton of new things all the time. I am so worried about getting bored. Plus I have no desire to move up the career ladder, none whatsoever. So what am I going to do? I have no idea.

I don't even know what I want to do right now.
Museums would be fun. Working in sports would be awesome. I still have a burning desire to be the person who takes statistics at games. I like playing with numbers, but in weird ways that don't matter at all. I am still interested in environmental stuff. I like traveling. I like to write. I don't want to program. I like being outside, when the weather is nice. I like typing. I like singing. I like to explore how people think and what they think about. I like taking surveys. I like physically demanding things, like weeding or planting seeds or moving bricks around. I like being active, like biking or playing sports. I like to build stuff, with power tools and precise measurements. I like being able to flit from one interest to the next during the day. I want to work in a brewery, or at least to figure out how to brew my own beer. I like to cook. I like to take pictures.

Is there any way I can get paid to do stuff I like? Or am I going to have to be just okay with it, just deal with it, pretend to be happy, maybe be miserable in whatever I do for a living so I can enjoy the small amount of time I have to actually go live? In my opinion work should not take up the majority of your life. Life is about having fun and enjoying it, not being unhappy, and definitely not being stuck in something you don't want to be doing.

I definitely need advice on what to do. Everyone keeps telling me that "a year or two doing something you don't like isn't that long" but hello, that is a year or two of my life that I can never get back. I don't want to spend time being unhappy. Especially not right now, not when my body can go on all sorts of adventures and when I'm finally getting to be not afraid to try new things.

Anyway, advice appreciated. What to study, what to do. I really either need to stay in school or find a job that has benefits, because without either of those I have no health insurance and that is not an ideal situation to be in. If I had it my way I would take off and go biking around the perimeter of the US for the next year or two, but the no-health-insurance aspect kills that dream in the dust. So other ideas are welcome. What the heck does anybody see me doing, anyway? Other eyes might see what mine cannot. Thanks.


  1. My browser crashed and killed my wonderfully extensive write-up, so I'll only summarize it this time.

    I find myself in a similar situation, a thousand interests but nothing lasting. Right now the answer for me is to find one common thread to run through all of those interests. Then I no longer have a grand disparate set of half-skills but something of an oeuvre.

    In the future, I can take on more interesting tasks in my career because I'll be familiar with the skills required like GIS and press releases. I'll also be able to enjoy my work more because I'll be experimenting with historical menus and jogging past monuments. Hopefully one day, I'll start my historical brewery.

    It's a tricky balance between choosing your one thing and being capricious. I'm trying to guide both so that my options will remain open and I'll still be talented when I switch to something new.

  2. Maria, we should get married and make jobs.

    I am bored, too. :(

    Come on my bike trip with me for a while!

  3. Wow, this is something. You have articulated almost perfectly my situation. I could draw a majority of the statements from that post and use them as my own words, and it would fit. Ha, you have no idea.

    When I consider the prospect of pursuing a generalized "career" - for example, getting hired in a biology lab (as my degree would advise me) and working my way up, there is this lingering sense that yes, I COULD take this path and join the millions who live comfortably and live for moments of leisure - but first I must admit that life has beaten me.

    I can't imagine that there are too many people that would say this and truly mean it on the deepest of levels. It seems that most of those I know of similar age already live for comfort and for moments of leisure, and are satisfied with the paradigm of necessary "career" as a means to living a separately fulfilling life.

    But that doesn't work for me, and it sounds like it doesn't work for you, because I want to DO...something! I want to pursue ideas and projects. I want to be one of those that can say they do something they really LOVE.

    As far as advice, I'd ask this question: what is it that, if someone said "you may not do this", would be the most difficult thing abandon?

    For example, if someone said to me "You will not ever make it writing books" I could handle that much better than if someone said "You will not ever make it in any sort of music/songwriting". (Yeah, ironically, writing books isn't my dream job)

    And this at least gives me some idea of what it is that I would really "like" to do. But among other things, too...I don't know.

    In any case, you're far from alone in these sentiments. "A year or two doing something you don't like isn't that long." Yeah, sure. Been there for a good 4 years, and I must disagree!

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  5. Hi!

    I can't give you absolute advice, but I can tell you my story & what I've learned from it.

    In high school everyone called me "the artist". I felt talented and special. But by senior year another artist blew me away. She ended up going to art school. Then I came to DePauw, took a few art classes, and got burnt out. Painting felt like a chore, and the pressure to be creative at all times resulted in 0 creativity. I realized that my mind was logical with the occasional creative tangent, and that I should pursue classes accordingly: physics major, art minor.

    So for me, the passion is split between art and fact, I can't do one without the other. Whenever I focus, the pressure builds and I can't accomplish anything. It's at that point that I take a study break with the other subject. Thinking of it as a study break actually gives me freedom to pursue the subject without reservation. It's a weird balance. I've also finally discovered the common bond between them - curiosity and the realization of ideas. This makes my split identity feel somewhat whole.

    My big point/advice is that we are all complicated, but so are careers, and it is possible to find a life that suits you. It could be fully contained in a career, but most likely it will be the result of balance between your job and your grown-up extracurriculars. And I think that's great.

    When choosing a career, though, it's important to look at the final product or purpose of your work. If you're satisfied (more than satisfied - driven and excited) about this, then the boring or difficult aspects of work become less of a problem.

    It's also comforting to me seeing DPU grads changing their minds. Our direction can evolve over time!