It’s pretty damn depressing when you get to that point in life (i.e. your early 30s) where you go from thinking one day you’ll do something big (creative or otherwise) and worthy of at least a Wikipedia page – and then you look around and realize that suddenly your future greatness never happened and your life is going to be just as normal as the next person’s – at best.
Culturally, we raise our children to think they’re special. Their art project deserves to win a statewide contest and be featured in the local newspaper. Being the lead in a school play is the end-all-be-all of importance for one’s happiness and self worth. Life is about being impressive and unique. Well, at least that’s the way my parents raised me. And I’m sure feeling the effects of it more than ever now.
I’m definitely as a turning point in my life – one where I have a choice to really stop what it is I’m doing and make a significant, strategic or haphazard change – to grasp at whatever sort of inner psyche voice is willing to talk at me to produce some form of a future that makes sense. I know the entire career I’ve somehow got myself into – while lucrative and actually quite stable if I were good at it – is not right. But then I think I’m just lazy and no career will ever be right and I just need to, you know, suck it up until I’m old enough to retire – and then I’ll be bored because I actually like working.
Things I think I’d like to do and why I haven’t done them yet…
- Psychologist / career counselor — I enjoy helping other people plan their lives and giving advice. But I don’t know if I’d want to do that for a living, or if I should just stick to trying to be a good friend to a few select individuals who occasionally ask for advice. The amount of schooling required to switch to this career is immense and I’m so far behind now it would be challenging to make such a change, especially if I’m not 100% sure that I’d be happy in this field… which I’m not.
- UX designer — this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, as in 8+ years. There are many different ways into the field but I am convinced graduate school is the best way to transition at this point. I daydream about studying design but then I also worry about it being too limited — many UX designers have to basically listen to non-designer managers tell them what to do, and the entire experience is frustrating and soul-sucking. Plus, UX designers don’t only get to do the fun strategic design work, but they also have to create hundreds of pages of detailed wireframes. I’m not the best when it comes to details or sticking up for my points when someone else says I’m wrong. I worry this dream career would be more like a nightmare.
- Teacher — I don’t think I have the patience for teaching, but I do like the idea of feeling like I’m actually doing something meaningful in my life. The reason why this is even on the list is that I really enjoy helping people, and I know if I could feel useful everyday I’d be much happier.
- Writer — the whole journalism thing didn’t work out… getting scoops was so stressful I ended up just getting myself scoops of ice cream instead. Social anxiety also gets in the way of interviewing random people for your stories, and I never could come up with my own story ideas anyway. Writing a novel is appealing but I’m terrible at plot and dialogue, so that’s a no go. Professional blogging is a thought, but a bad thought, as I can’t even keep up with writing in this blog and I only post when I’m feeling inspired (i.e. frustrated.) I’ve received a number of offers for sponsored posts on this blog, but I don’t want to turn this into that type of a site. If anyone actually reads this blog still — well, they know that it’s not about trying to sell crap.
- Photographer — I enjoy photography but I don’t know how to do it correctly – even though I invested in a fancy camera a few years ago. Being a photographer is a huge investment and it also means that you have to basically give up your entire life to the trade. Wedding photographers are busy all weekend every weekend, especially in the nicer months. Photojournalists travel the world and rarely see their own bed. I think I’m looking for a job in my “old age” with more flexibility, not less.
- Film editor – I often think this would have been an idea job. I enjoy telling stories and taking stories and putting them together. But to be a film editor I’d have to first learn how to use the latest tools, then start at the very bottom, and who knows if I could ever move up. I have a friend who does editing in LA and she seems to like it but she works long hours and the pay is not good. There are so many people who want to be film editors that the agencies that do this can basically screw people over. But really, I don’t want to move to los angeles, so getting a job in film editing would be quite challenging in most other cities.
- Character Animator — if I could learn to create animations that would be pretty cool… but I don’t think I’m talented enough to do the work that I’d actually want to do.
- Mother — not that being a full time mother is actually possible, but I’d like to do this for a little while. Maybe by the time I get done dealing with a screaming baby 24/7 I’ll be ready to go back to the corporate world doing just about anything.
Well – those seem to be my options – or I can just stay where I am now, career-wise, and try to focus on the parts of it that I like. I’ve just concluded that I need a job which is based on projects that have a certain timeframe so there is a sense of natural momentum and also a good feeling of being DONE with something before moving on to the next thing. I’m not good at the type of job that is never, ever done (well until you quit or get fired) — even your best results are just temporary. I wish I went into film or some more creative field where you worked on projects one at a time. I need that sense of completion. After 6-12 months I start to feel restless, which isn’t healthy or positive for my current career. I need to focus and just pretend to be someone else for a while – and to figure out what it is I’m doing next – because I have about two years before my first child (knock on wood) and I need to have my shit together by then.