How did you decide to do what you do?
December 21, 2010 8:13 PM Subscribe
How did you decide what you wanted to do for a living?
posted by GilloD to work & money (39 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
That is a vague, chat-filter-y question, right? But I'm genuinely interested: How did you decide what you wanted to do with your life and how did you get there?
A little background: I'm nearly 27. I have a degree in English and Philosophy because when I was in college I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I like reading, I turned out to be an okay writer and I figured Philosophy was a good 'smart dude' skill to have.
I graduated college and found out that my occupation was not going to fall into my lap like I'd hoped. I languished at an office gig that had me in a fit of self-despair. I left that job to follow (and marry!) a girl. I spent a year in flux, taking odd jobs and being broke. I worked at a diner as a short order cook and I really liked that, so I thought maybe I should go to Culinary School. It soon emerged that while I liked the job, it was kind of incompatible with things like living wage, free time etc etc. I didn't love it the way I thought you'd need to to survive in it.
After that, through a series of lucky breaks, I ended up working in Marketing at a small food company. This was better- I figured I was better at being smart about food than cooking it. For awhile this okay, but the pay was awful (20k, in New York, does not go far), hours were crazy and benefits were non-existent and my wife lost her job.
After that we moved to Korea to teach English. The job is kind of a joke for a million reasons I could discuss, but the pay is good, the benefits are great and we get to travel and see the world. But our contract will be in August and, well. I need to decide what I want to do with my life.
The problem is, I can't decide. On Monday I'll think about how I want to live a good life and study the Bible. I'll decide to become a Pastor. On Thursday I'll decide that maybe I don't like it that much and that I should design video games. By Saturday I'm thinking about doing freelance web design again. Tuesday rolls around and I figure, again, that the Foreign Service would be a good fit. The next Friday I'm ready to get an MFA in Creative Writing and be a journalist.
I think I've got a handful of things working against me:
1- Myself. I really have to struggle to not make excuse. I think maybe I look for reasons to disqualify a job. I think I'm really, really scared of getting stuck in something I hate. I'm also afraid of failure and I find it difficult to be focused.
2- I like everything. I go home and write a song. Then I take pictures. Maybe I'll paint for a bit, read a book and then futz with my Arduino. I'll program for awhile and then cook dinner. All of these things bring me joy. I know making your hobby into a full time job is a bad idea or, at least, very different from what you think it will be, but when people say "Well, what do you like to do?" I can only answer "Everything".
3- That first job, and the marketing job, really scared the heck out of me. I've never been that depressed, that angry, that despondent in my life. I felt like I was wasting away and it negatively affected everything in my life. I can't do that. And I think it just put the fear in me of "Well, that's every job". And I know that's not the case, but the jobs I've had that aren't like that tend to be the kind that you don't support a family or an adult career on.
4- I already have 2 useless degrees. I'm okay with shelling out for another if I think it's something I want to do, but I'm afraid of dropping another 50k+ on a degree for a career I'll turn out to hate.
Anyway, boy. That got long. I kept trying to condense, but I was trying to explore just how. Panic-y and nervous and weird this makes me feel. Which brings me to the question:
How did you end up doing what you do and are you happy about it?