Why work?
February 11, 2007 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to be a well-respected and fulfilled person without having a career?

Money is not an issue, other than the fact that it would be nice to make my own for once. But would extra money matter, taking up all my time to make a small entry-level amount?

I went to school for a long time, against my will at first, and then just to finish what I started. I changed majors a few times, never finding anything I wanted to truly immerse myself in. I have MANY interests, and find myself consuming vast amounts of books, movies, plays, magazines, blogs, etc. I'm a very geeky person in that way. When I find something I like, I become obsessed with it for a while, a virtual expert, and then move on to the next thing. I'm not lazy, and I hate that people may think I am.

When it comes to starting a career, I'm just not interested. In an abstract way I think I am only because it was ingrained in me as a child that success is paramount to a good life. I often come up with business plans and go so far as to write them out and pitch them to people, and lose interest in the concept six months later. I know I'm capable, I know the who, what, where, and how, but I have a hard time coming up with the why.

When new friends ask me what I do, their reaction is either one of obvious disapproval though they try to conceal it ("Must be nice."), or outright envy and approval, like, "Why work? You don't have to. Enjoy!"

Can I be considered a worthwhile member of society without having a career? I'm not ready for children yet, and it seems like everyone is waiting for me to "do something." I feel like I'm letting someone down, mostly myself. I can't help but think as soon as I get pregnant I'll have major regrets about not having started a career or business first. I don't know how to work for ME.
posted by JJ Jenkins to Work & Money (59 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Where does the money that you use to live come from?
posted by Loto at 9:05 AM on February 11, 2007


You don't necessarily need a career, if you're independently wealthy. However, to gain respect, you do need to do something meaningful. Could you volunteer? Perhaps you could make books on tape for the blind, do market research for non-profits, or write articles for magazines, newspapers, non-profit newsletters and the like. This would tap your tendency to become obsessed with learning something for a while and then moving on to the next thing. Freelance or consulting work would also fit -- and you could just concentrate on non-profits.
posted by acoutu at 9:11 AM on February 11, 2007


Can I be considered a worthwhile member of society without having a career?

This is a classic case of the passive voice creating a problem. Considered by whom? Some will consider you such, others won't. Myself, I tend to feel that anyone who doesn't actively hurt or oppress other people is a worthwhile member of society; others feel you need to Contribute. What you need to think about is whose opinion you care about, and why. You say you feel you're "letting someone down, mostly myself"; that seems to indicate you should try to earn money to make yourself happy. At any rate, that's the important consideration, not what some unnamed "they" might think. And good luck; you sound like a good, thoughtful person who deserves happiness.

Where does the money that you use to live come from?

That's completely irrelevant to the question, as well as being impertinent.
posted by languagehat at 9:11 AM on February 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


On non-preview:

to gain respect, you do need to do something meaningful.

To gain whose respect? Not mine. Let's try not to overgeneralize here.
posted by languagehat at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2007


If you're independently wealthy, there's something to be said for not taking a paying job that somebody else needs. But since you're interested in many things, you should relax and perhaps at some point you'll find yourself focusing on some specialty, doing or creating something which other people will regard as a career.
posted by zadcat at 9:13 AM on February 11, 2007


Where does the money that you use to live come from?

I think that question is irrelevant and, frankly, none of our business.

JJ Jenkins, it seems to me that at the crux of your question are the opinions of others and society as a whole. Whether one is rich or barely scraping by, it's my opinion that one should pursue personal fulfillment over societal approval. This may be more difficult for individuals that don't have extensive means, but the point still stands. You're reading and learning and pursuing interests, and if that's fulfilling to you at this point in your life, stop worrying! Chances are, by following such a path, you will find something you're passionate enough about to pursue a deeper level of engagement with it. In the meantime, since you have extra time and income, consider donating to charities you feel are worthwhile, or even better, volunteer your time to those who need it.
posted by theantikitty at 9:16 AM on February 11, 2007


For the most part I live on my husband's income. HIS opinion is that we are a team who earns this money together, because I support him, run our home, and help him with business ideas/problems/issues. However, I believe he would be supportive of whatever I choose to do, and he says so.
posted by JJ Jenkins at 9:18 AM on February 11, 2007


Languagehat, even you noted that, to gain your respect, someone needs to avoid actively hurting or oppressing. Isn't that meaningful?
posted by acoutu at 9:20 AM on February 11, 2007


It's totally possible. However, there are a few caveats, or things to think about.

1. You have to spend a little time getting over what people think of you. This is often true for people who choose non-traditional paths, it's not just people without a career. Some people will always be there to comment that you're doing things differently and may have secret or not-so-secret thoughts that this is wrong. You will need, for yourself, to come to terms with that. Going out and choosing the straight-and-narrow path won't even solve the problem, so I wouldn't do that.

2. There are a few issues here.

a) you don't need to work (married? independently wealthy? live in a cave?) and people are oftren naturally curious about what you do to get that way. There are all sorts of people that don't work but it helps to have an explanation that isn't just "to heck with you!" So, having a ready answer to "so, what do you do?" can be anything from "I'm working on a novel" to "I'm working on my house" to "I'm interested in photography" The more your not working or not having a career doesn't get under your skin, the less other people will notice or care about it. Very few people will get all "but what do you do for MONEY" with you and unless they are your close friends, they're not really entitled to an explanation if you are not borrowing money from then
b) the pick up one thing and then drop it routine. This for some people is a bit of a red flag because it can indicate a lack of passion or committment or follow-through. This, again, doesn't need to matter to you, but if it's something you've been doing your whole life, some people look askance at that, especially if they are considering committing with you to something. For example, I would not want to go into business with you if I thought you were going to lose interest in a few months. There is nothing inherently wrong with the way you do things, but it's good to understand why people might treat it with some level of skepticism. You may just be not giving us each and every detail about your life, but do you have ongoing passions or commitments about anything? If so, you may want to learn to highlight them as well as the short term things that interest you.
c) are you happy with what you are doing? ultimately that's what matters. People get a lot of helpful and not so helpful advice from friends and family and complete strangers about what their plans are and how they plan to achieve them. I find, personally, that the less sure I am about a chosen path of mine, the more people step in and try to solve that problem for me. The more I'm in the mindset of "I'm just fine, thanks" the more they're likely to accept my choices. This is again, somewhat balanced with how much I want *them* to sign on to whatever path I'm on. The less you require other people to be part of your long term plan, the less they should get all up in your business

3. dealing with other people. I want my friends to like me, generally and I even like it when strangers like me, so while there's not much I can do if they simply disagree with and/or hate my choices I can definitely mitigate some of the weird interactions we have because of our different paths. So, I make a bit of an effort to not be righteous about what I do and I am supportive and happy for my friends and what they do. So while I might not have kids, I like and appreciate my friends' kids and the choices they made to have them. I don't have a 9-5 job but I realize there are benefits to that lifestyle that work great for my friends. I also mention to them -- if I'm getting the "must be nice" response -- that there are downsides to my choices as well (working weekends, people's impressions that I "don't work" unclear retirement plan, low income=low spending whatever) that I'm okay with but that would not be for everyone.

4. You mention "as soon as I get pregnant" If that's a path you're on now, consider that it's totally okay to just be a great parent and focus on your kids, though once again, especially in the US, there will be some people who look sideways at that choice. There are a lot of things you can do before/during/after having kids that don't have to necessarily be career-based: volunteering in your community, getting active in local politics, starting a hobby group or club or following a particular interest in a longer term way.

My feeling is that being interested in things is great, and being able to somehow SHARE those interest, with friends, family or strangers is what really makes things extra fulfilling. It sounds like you're trying to answer the question "why don't I feel fulfilled" which has a lot less to do (in my opinion) with career and job stuff and a lot more to do with your own feedback mechanisms and what you're really after. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 9:25 AM on February 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


You sound like one of my best friends who also happens to be the person I respect most.

When it comes to starting a career, I'm just not interested.
Then don't have a career. Just like a 4-year college isn't for everyone, neither is a career in the typical sense. However, part of this is realizing what not having a "real" career entails. Continued questions from family and friends and a shortcoming of potential income are just a few to start with.

When new friends ask me what I do, their reaction is either one of obvious disapproval though they try to conceal it
And....your point is? While I understand that approval is an important aspect of human nature, there comes a point where you have to do what's right for yourself regardless of how others perceive you. They're not you and obviously don't have the same thoughts and emotions as you.
While I don't know your friends and don't want to pass judgment, there are friends out there who will be your friends and not pass judgment based on your career path. Some of us realize the person is much greater than what their job is.

Can I be considered a worthwhile member of society without having a career?
It depends on what you're doing. My best friend's 25 and has no career in site. She's been traveling in Europe for the last year, is applying for Peace Corps right night, and plans to do Teach for America after that. When she's finally ready to settle down, she plans on doing counseling in battered woman's shelters or something of the sort.
While people- her parents included- often go "huh," I think it's awesome. With these experiences, she'll be a helluva lot more well-rounded as a person and have more real-world experience outside of our little society than 99.9% of the population.

So, while she's not productive by typical norms of society, she is considered more productive than most people by myself and a number of her friends.


Really, I think your question hinges on what do you want to do and how much does perception matter to you?? Sometimes you just have to ignore society and do what is right for yourself.
posted by jmd82 at 9:26 AM on February 11, 2007


Hmm, you're interested in a wide variety of things?

How do you feel about teaching? Liar-to-children, as Terry Pratchett says, is a time-honoured profession. I'm not saying that you should go get your B.ed, and so forth... what about volunteering at some local agency that focuses on educating underprivileged (or whatever the current PC term is) youth? See if you can infect them with your passion for learning new things.

I'm not sure if I'm being clear... what I'm suggesting is starting a free-form series of 'classes'.. get people interested in something, learn everything you can about it. Then a couple weeks later, on to another subject. If you can get a budget, great--but if not all you really need is for someone to give you some space, and help spread the word.

And finally... if people are judging you for making a perfectly valid choice, perhaps that says a lot more about them than it does about you. The whole point of the feminist movement (and related empowerment movements) is, as I see it, that you have the choice to live your life as you please (presuming it's not harming others). Telling women--or, indeed, anyone--that they must have a career is just as antithetical to the movement, in my mind, as telling a woman (or anyone) that they must stay home.

Own your choices. If you are not happy about them, definitely go ahead and make new ones. But if you're happy, it shouldn't, ideally, be worth a tinker's damn what 'they' think.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:30 AM on February 11, 2007


jessamyn writes "You mention 'as soon as I get pregnant' If that's a path you're on now, consider that it's totally okay to just be a great parent and focus on your kids"

I should have previewed, and this absolutely bears repeating.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:33 AM on February 11, 2007


Some people find their fulfillment in life from what they do for a living, others don't. There is no point in trying to force yourself to be a career-minded, work-fulfilled person if that's just not you. And there are many ways to define "success", other than just finding a job and doing well at it.

However, one of the real benefits of a job can be that it defines your time, and makes you appreciate your free time more, and make considered decisions about where to spend that time - without that structure some people find themselves just floating through life. If you do not need to earn a living (and there is nothing wrong with that), then I suggest you both find a hobby and volunteer somewhere (or even combine the two) - then you will have a focus and also actually be contributing something valuable with your time, and you will also probably find that it helps you feel more fulfilled. Channel some of your varied research interests into something more concrete and hands on, rather than just observation.

But basically, if the problem is just what other people think, that's not really your problem, but if the problem is that what other people think makes you realize some truths about your life, then you need to make a change.
posted by biscotti at 9:33 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just like a 4-year college isn't for everyone, neither is a career in the typical sense.

That's not entirely true since the society we live in does not put roofs over the heads of those dedicated to discovering themselves.

Here's how it is: if you're one of the slovenly masses, you're expected to find a job and work. If you don't, you will be considered lazy and undeserving, with the exception of those who can't for whatever reason, and they are expected to be grateful. If you are independently wealthy and free of society's obligations, you are expected to use your free time for the betterment of society as a whole. Volunteer. Raise a child.

Society has its expectations, even for the wealthy. If you don't care about public opinion (and there's a lot to be said about that), then enrich yourself to your heart's content. If you are looking for any sort of approval or respect from outside your close group of friends, however, I would suggest taking your passion for your own interests and directing them outward to those who don't have the luxury.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:48 AM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I didn't have anything to add here until people starting saying that it doesn't matter from where the poster gets her money. I know it's already been answered, but of course it's a valid question. I'm glad your husband is supportive of you no matter what direction you take, but not all spouses would be. A trust fund, on the other hand, doesn't care.

In answer to the question:
My wife stays home and takes care of the house and kids, and has kept my home life so much more comfortable than if she worked outside the home, not to mention all the work she's done to get our home ready to sell. We do without a lot (second car, cable, cell phones, new clothes, an entertainment budget), especially in CA with one relatively low income, but I see her as contributing a great deal to our family, and would even without the kids. She's also got the time to help friends out when they need it. There's a lot to be said to not being locked into a set work schedule.
posted by monkeymadness at 9:50 AM on February 11, 2007


I don't know about being a respected member of society, but it's no small achievement to be trusted by the people who know you. That you can do by being a good human being.

About your actual question, though -- just try to put real effort into the things you do, even if you don't expect anything to come of them. If you get interested in some subject, act like the retirees who sit in on college classes and do extra assignments for their own sake, and for the satisfaction of learning how to do something really well. That way, you can at least be an interesting, thoughtful, and maybe even wise person, which should be a gift for anyone who gets to know you really well (not least of all your kids, if you decide to have any.) I'd rather know someone like that than someone who's hard-working but thinks mostly in bullet points or cliches.

Hope this didn't come off too greeting-card-y.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 9:55 AM on February 11, 2007


as soon as I get pregnant
I am a full-time mother and part-time freelance writer. One of the reasons I continue to work is to avoid a large gaping hole in my resume. I also put off having children until my career was well-established enough to make me "marketable." Why? Because if my bread-winner husband should get laid off, hit by a bus or simply decide to run off with his secretary, it will fall to me to provide for those children.

You don't necessarily have to commit yourself to the career track, but I would encourage you to at least make sure that you have some marketable skills and experience so that if the worst happens, you'll be OK.
posted by jrossi4r at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Have you considered working with a coach? A good coach can help you clarify what a fulfilling life would be like for YOU.
posted by jeri at 10:08 AM on February 11, 2007


Along jrossi's point, this might be of interest. It's coming at it from a feminist viewpoint, which you may not be into, but I think it makes two good points: (1) A lot of people, especially parents, who stay at home do work, and do keep this society going (even beyond raising their own kids), and while society doesn't always recognize that, you should, and you should be proud of it, and (2) basically jrossi's point, that keeping your resume up to date with your endeavors, that volunteering, that talking about your projects as if they are work, is important for your own networking opportunities and financial stability, should anything happen to your husband or your marriage.
posted by occhiblu at 10:12 AM on February 11, 2007


Some people will respect you if you have an established, verifiable career. Some people will respect you if you have gobs of money. Some people will respect you if you're knowledgeable about unusual subjects. Some people will respect you if you raise your children right. Some people will respect you if you buy the right brand of beer. Some people will never respect you no matter what you do.

So don't worry about respect. Do what makes you happy. Maybe that's a "career," maybe it's something else. Doesn't matter. As long as you're not sitting around all day doing nothing, then you're doing fine.
posted by ook at 10:15 AM on February 11, 2007


If you feeld the need of outside approval for your life choices you may never be satisfied with your choices.

If on the other hand your very personal contentment is your goal, chances are, people will respect you and your choices as long as they do not adversely affect others.

What is left is a few miserable people who will disaprove of anybody who is happy - does it really matter what they think?

If you struggle to find things to do with your time I would suggest volunteering. You sound like the kind of person who can get a project started - just be sure to have somebody else on the team who will see it through!
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:15 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, yes, yes you do.

If you want to be respected, even by yourself, you need to do something with your life. As it is now -- unless you had kids, unless your husband is a politician or something which would make being his wife an actual career -- you're not doing anything. You fill up your days looking at things you find shiny, but are you contributing?

When I find something I like, I become obsessed with it for a while, a virtual expert, and then move on to the next thing.
The hubris of this statement is at the crux of your problem. So what exactly have you become a "virtual expert" on before you got bored and shouted "next!"? Indian cookery, nuclear physics, 19th century French literature? Any of those things -- and many more besides -- would sustain a lifetime of serious study. Are you picking lesser things, or are you setting the expert bar low?

I'm not lazy, and I hate that people may think I am.
Then prove it. Do something. Consuming vast amounts of books, etc is not somehow virtuous. You want to try being a producer, not just a consumer. You have talents, you have time, you have money -- there are many ways you could make the world a better place. Since you are living off your husband, it doesn't matter whether the job you choose is low-paid or un-paid. Teach for America. Americorps. Salvation Army. READ. Museum docent. Community activist.

You're an able-bodied woman. Get off your ass.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:22 AM on February 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


Have you read Anna Karenina? There's a lot of thought about this same question in that novel.

Pragmatically, I tend to agree with jrossi4r: it's good to work because you'll be self-sufficient. And that is always a good feeling, no matter the current circumstances. Working and being self-sufficient, though, isn't the same thing as having a career. It's more about having a set of skills that you can always rely upon and call yours. Not knowledge, but skills.

I'd also say that this:

I know I'm capable, I know the who, what, where, and how, but I have a hard time coming up with the why.

... is probably more of an illusion than you know. It's in the nitty gritty of doing a thing, in the small details of execution and completion, that fascination and motivation develop. And it's in the doing that capability resides. Thinking it through is not the same thing as doing it--and it isn't as satisfying either. So might it not be true that, if you simply pick a thing and learn it from the inside, you'll find it rewarding--its own justification, if you commit to it and do it?

One last thought. It seems to me that, if you're really free not to work, you ought to be able to think not about a 'career' but about a series of different, interesting jobs. For many people career choices are incredibly stressful, because they are permanent and life-determining. Why not spend a few years teaching, a few years in business, a few years at a non-profit you support, and see what sticks?
posted by josh at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2007


Is it possible to be a well-respected and fulfilled person without having a career?

In the U.S., no.

Fulfillment is not a problem. I haven't worked in going on three years now and I am the happiest I've been in my life. I'm doing all those things I always meant to get around to, and just enjoying the hell out of it.

Respect, on the other hand, is all about making money. As a culture we pay lip service to the idea of serving others, but the truth is that we provide our table scraps to the people who actually do it. When people talk about making it "to the top", they aren't talking about working at the best soup kitchen in NYC.

Our elected officials are almost uniformly millionares, as are our sports heroes, entertainment celebrities and of course the captains of industry. And whether it's true or not, the myth we maintain is that they made that money on their own. (when that myth is not present, say with Paris Hilton, neither is respect)

The good news is that while our overall culture is about money, various subcultures are not. If you want to go do volunteer work, you'll most likely be respected within the volunteer community. If you want to be a mother, you'll be respected in your family and most likely the local community. If you want to be an artist... well, you get the idea.

The question you need to settle, I think, is whether you want to be generically respectable to American culture, or whether you just want to be respectable to the people around you. I've chosen the latter route, and while I certainly hear enough of the "must be nice" comments from outsiders, I am also very comfortable that my friends and family respect what I am doing.
posted by tkolar at 10:25 AM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't have anything worthwhile to add to your central question, but I do want to say that having a job does more for you than getting you some of society's respect.

A little part-time book-store job I had while looking for full-time work was one of the most enjoyable jobs I've had. I got to play with books, get to know the retail side of the publishing world, feel useful to customers and my employer, and learn a few things about what matters to me as a person. I even had multiple opportunities to turn down some relatively big promotions. That's not something you get to do every day.

I'd recommend getting a job for the unexpected fringe benefits.
posted by booth at 10:26 AM on February 11, 2007


i've never been a career enthusiast myself, although i've worked lots of stupid jobs when i needed the money. my partner recently got a better paying job, though, so i'm in a kind of similar situation since we decided it wasn't worth it at the moment for me to be working a terrible, low-paying job when we can both live on his income. (and we both occasionally do freelance work, but that's kind of beside the point)

anyway, we decided to use a version of one classic feminist solution to this problem, which is to explicitly spell out the partnership. in our case this means that i do one hour of housework, personal business, or something else that we both agree needs to get done for every hour that he works at his job. then we consider the money to be our joint income. as long as one partner prefers a career to housework and vice versa, this seems pretty equitable to me. of course, the potentially negative side of this is that you get a job title, but it's homemaker, housewife, or something like that, which doesn't necessarily earn a lot of respect. i agree with the other comments that if you do something else significant with your time you could focus on that (i generally say i'm an artist or writer because i do do these things professionally, although a lot less than i do other stuff)
posted by lgyre at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2007


Methylviolet wrote...
If you want to be respected, even by yourself, you need to do something with your life.

Ambition is a vice to some, a virtue to others.
posted by tkolar at 10:30 AM on February 11, 2007


Where does the money that you use to live come from?

That's completely irrelevant to the question, as well as being impertinent.


The poster is asking the two related questions "who am I" and "who can I be" in a society where money has come to define virtually everything. Fully understanding and coming to terms with the source of her material support will be fundamentally necessary to her search for meaning in the context of "society".

She doesn't need to go out and do things to earn (my) respect.


She deserves respect as a human being in the same way that anyone does. In terms of societies respect though, she needs to engage in some sort of giving or producing role that more directly affects society at large and not just members of her immediate family or personal aquaintances. Not saying that's right or wrong, just is, as an answer to the question.
posted by scheptech at 10:43 AM on February 11, 2007


Being paid for something doesn't make the thing more valuable. You have friends, your husband, maybe more family, whose lives you brighten. You have time to do things for them that make their lives warmer, easier, more entertaining, and more comfortable than they would be otherwise. And you do that because you love them, not because someone is paying you. If you were employed as a cook, or a party planner, a therapist, or a masseuse, no one would complain. Because you do these things without direct monetary compensation, you are told that you aren't contributing to society. And if you were working, and struggling to find a few hours a week to spend on your hobbies, that you could never quite find enough time for, no one would feel that you weren't a fulfilled person. Since you do have enough time to do what interests you (again, without being paid for it), you are suspected of not being fulfilled. There's more to life than money, and there are more ways to achieve happiness than through paid employment. You are fortunate to be in the position of having a choice as to how you spend your time. Maybe you'll find something that you enjoy doing that happens to earn money. Maybe you'll find something you enjoy doing that helps the outside world. Maybe you'll spend the next 30 years developing the background you need to produce one striking piece of artistic expression that will change the course of human history. Or maybe you'll just enjoy your life. Don't let others dictate how you spend your time, because they aren't going to be lying on your deathbed with you wishing you hadn't spent so much time in a cubicle.
posted by textilephile at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


In an abstract way I think I am only because it was ingrained in me as a child that success is paramount to a good life.

Can I be considered a worthwhile member of society without having a career?

In my own 9-5 life as an admin, I've had the opportunity to work for a lot of those career-oriented, "successful" people you envy. They make shitloads of money. They have won the conventional, superficial respect granted by conventional, superficial people.

And most of them have fucking bored me to tears.

I have MANY interests, and find myself consuming vast amounts of books, movies, plays, magazines, blogs, etc.


With this one sentence, you've managed to win more respect from me, personally, than several dozen "successes" I've worked for.

So the answer to your question is yes. I consider you a worthwhile member of society and think that what you're doing is very cool. If I weren't stuck in the wage-labor grind, I'd be living my life pretty much the way you're living yours. Take advantage of your economic freedom and develop yourself and your interests as you see fit.

Rock on with your polymath self.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


You need to look further down the road.

We put more value on goinf for crazy dreams than on staying on planned courses. People who "dare" are better human beings than those poor clowns that just follow what's been set out for them - be that having a job/carreer, or getting married/having kids, or eating with forks/wearing shoes.

Paramount to our era, "be yourself" is better than "conform to the society you live in".

I guess since the 60s we have been very open about the beauty of life and the perfection of being and the value of the self. That is, in fact, all very beautiful and valuable, but basically, if you can look at it with slighty more cynic eyes, we are the generation where it's ok to trade long-term commitments for immediate satisfaction.

Again: that is, and I'm not being sarcastic, beautiful, important and deep.

But this adolescent filosofy forgets to tell us that there is a very valid reason for commiting and fitting and conforming: we must build. For the future. Forget all the clichés: I mean where's lunch comming from in 20 years? and simmilar questions.
We need financial security for when we're old. Or we need to have a collection of trophies. Or we need to have a roof. We don't all need the same stuff when we are old, but most of what each of us will need is stuff we must work hard for.

How this relates to your question is: do you already have all you think is going to meaningful/necessary to you 50 years from now?
Is being the cultured woman gonna be enough for you?
How sure are you of still having the financial support of a husband untill there?
And if you chose to be a Mother, once the kids go away is "having been a mom" going to be enough for you?

There are many things we need to build for our future. A carreer is a lot more than a source of income or respect from peers. Sometimes your carreer is the only thing that is going to be truly yours, forever - when kids leave and husband is no more and even when you no longer have/need to work.

Now the same can be said about knowledge. I'm not saying you should get a carreer or even a fun job. My advice is, examine what you want your future to be.
posted by ArchBr at 11:35 AM on February 11, 2007


Wow. I wish I had this "problem".

Work is not fulfilling for most people IMHO. If I were you, I would do what I love. If that means writing a novel, do that. If that means doing photography, do that. You're lucky in that you wouldn't have to treat any of these things as a "job".

Surely there's "something" you would like to try? It doesn't even have to go anywhere. If you're independently wealthy, you could publish small numbers of books, and spend your time reading and meeting new authors.

Or, hey, you can just hang out for a year or two and figure out what types of projects you'd be interested in doing. I've known people who have done that without being independently wealthy.

I guess I fall into the group that envies you. The world is your oyster. I would definitely talk with a career counselor about your interests and see how they map to careers, but really you are free to do whatever you want.

Rereading your post it sounds like you have a lot of interests but have trouble sticking with one idea. That's fine, a lot of business ideas don't work out. Just keep plugging away.

I would name myself something - even if it's just "venture capatalist" or "business incubator" or something. Most careers develop from an ongoing series of "stories" people tell about themselves that continue to evolve. We're all just making it up as we go along.
posted by xammerboy at 11:48 AM on February 11, 2007


I'm of the belief that the only opinion about me that matters, is my own. As long as I feel good about myself, and I'm not intentionally hurting anyone else, life is good.

I may be reading too much between the lines here, but are you feeling that you have to/want to do something (something special, maybe?) to give your life meaning?

If that's the case, pick something, and do it. Naturally, you've already tried that, and it hasn't worked. Maybe that's because you feel that you need a badge to wear - "career woman", "firefighter", "Nobel Peace Prize winner", etc - and you haven't found that badge yet? Maybe you don't need a badge?
posted by Solomon at 11:49 AM on February 11, 2007


Man, you sound just like me, except I DO have to work to get by (unfortunately). I'm 29 now and have been in and out of college and never had a job that paid more than $12 an hour. I live very frugally (I don't have a car or a cell phone and I imagine a lot of people would consider me a loser or at least find my life choices baffling but I doubt those same people know 2 foreign languages and have been to all but 3 states in the U.S. in addition to six foreign countries and three continents and worked as everything from a phone sex girl to a flight attendant to a record store clerk to a petsitter. All this in addition to having cultivated dozens of weird interests, read everything that looks the least bit interesting, volunteered for causes I feel passionate about and cultivated relationships with some of the world's most worthwhile people (in my estimation anyway).

It totally sounds like I'm tooting my own horn but the truth is I do often wonder what's wrong with me. My friends are buying houses now while I couldn't get it together to do that if you gave me 20 years. Buying a house isn't all that important to me but at the same time it just seems like one of those things all adults are expected to do.

It all comes down in the end though to fact that the idea of focusing on one thing for the rest of my life terrifies me because I feel like I will have died without doing everything I want to do. I imagine you can relate.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's time for people like us to get together and stop letting society determine our worth. Seriously, we should start a club or something.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:08 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I find, personally, that the less sure I am about a chosen path of mine, the more people step in and try to solve that problem for me. The more I'm in the mindset of "I'm just fine, thanks" the more they're likely to accept my choices.

I find this very true, and as a corollary I also find that I'm more likely to get bothered/worried/paranoid about other people's perceptions of me on specific things about myself that I already am bothered by, all by myself.

To the point that I tend to project and picture people paying those things more attention than they actually are, because in reality most people you enjoy spending time with & viceversa won't be half as judgemental and critical as you can be to yourself when you're insecure or not satisfied with aspects of your personality and life.

So I think what you need to understand, JJ Jenkins, is if your concern about other people's perception is more a projection of that dissatisfaction and frustration you seem to be expressing ('I feel like I'm letting someone down, mostly myself', and your talk of regrets), or if you're actually worrying about pleasing other people or conforming to social expectations.

Because in that latter case, the worrying is just a waste of time, life is too short to try and be someone you know you're not, and what ook and others said above; but if it's your own dissatisfaction speaking through the 'what will people think' voice (as it often does), then it's worth listening to it.

Seems to me the fact you even started coming up with plans shows you do have a desire to put your skills and interests to some use. You say you lose interest and lack motivation (the why), but you say 'I know I'm capable, I know the who, what, where, and how', that should be interest and motivation enough. Turn your interests into a more structured activity, focus on something specific and stick with it, don't allow yourself to lose interest for once, until you see the reward. Seeing the results of your efforts, seeing your capabilities come to fruition, that's more important than external approval.

The approval you crave is from yourself, being pleased with yourself, knowing you've achieved something, and that's worth striving for. Exploit the advantage you have of not having to worry about a career for money, and do it for your own satisfaction.

One last thing, I personally would not recommend volunteering, not as a substitute for pursuing your own goals and interests at least. You should do it if you already have a vocation for it, and a specific skill to bring to it, but if you go into it just to fill a void you won't likely find structure and satisfaction that way. First think about yourself.
posted by pleeker at 12:44 PM on February 11, 2007


Lot's of great advice here, so I just have one bit to add.

I often come up with business plans and go so far as to write them out and pitch them to people
This is not what the majority of people think of as a career, this is entrepreneurial. If this is the reason that you lose interest soon after, you should consider some other type (if you are still interested in that after the advice given in this thread).
posted by philomathoholic at 1:18 PM on February 11, 2007


Is it possible to be a well-respected and fulfilled person without having a career?

There are two completely independent questions there: 1) Is it possible to be a well-respected person without having a career? 2) Is it possible to be a fulfilled person without having a career?

The first is about society, and the second is about you personally. So only you can answer the latter. As for the former, how many well-respected people do you know who do not have careers?

The answer to the first question also depends on exactly what you mean by "career." If by that you mean a succession of jobs with more and more pay and responsibility, then I would say the answer is definitely "no." For instance, Van Gogh died in poverty, but it would be an understatement to say that he is well-respected today. Socrates is another example; he just went from place to place and made observations (and for that people kept him around and fed him). Having said that, I think you'll find that any well-respected person you can think of has produced something of significance. The something could be a novel, or a mathematical theory, or a performance, or a bunch of money, or a customized motorcycle, or a great family, etc. But, no one becomes respected for consuming things.
posted by epimorph at 1:29 PM on February 11, 2007


Err, that should be: the answer is definitely "yes."
posted by epimorph at 1:43 PM on February 11, 2007


I think it's possible. I can't say it will be easy, but it's definitely possible.

If I were in your position, I would try to find satisfaction by taking up a hobby, or hobbies that involve creating. Creating is good, because not only can you derive satisfaction simply from doing it, but people will respect your ability to do it, and depending on the circumstances, you may be able to sell what you create as well. Having a physical artifact to remind you of your own accomplishment goes a long way.

There's all sorts of things you can try: writing; knitting; painting; photography; welding; computer programming; composing; carpentry; glass blowing...

If you get really into one and do some good work, then you can call yourself a whatever-er. You could be a painter, or a programmer. Being a whatever-er, working on some kind of project, even if you don't have a day job, should get you some respect. That mostly depends on how you spin it.

Or you could combine them in new and unheard of ways. You could paint giant wooden robots of your own construction and programming! You could blow instruments out of glass and compose music for them!

And of course, whatever you do, you can always blog it so that the rest of us can live vicariously through you.

WHY? For the hell of it, for yourself.
posted by benign at 3:33 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Consuming vast amounts of books, etc is not somehow virtuous.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:22 AM PST on February 11


Yes, it is.

However: I think working at least a part-time job, or doing something where you're not allowed to immediately quit because you're bored will give you a little focus and a little perspective.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:04 PM on February 11, 2007


It's easy to say, "I really should quit worrying about what other people think," but you can't just flip a switch and make the doubts go away. They'll fade when you start to feel more at home in your own life.

The way you like to spend your time is hard for a lot of people to understand -- even people who are predisposed to think well of you. Seriously: you're very intelligent, and your interests are all over the place. You like reading, investigating, thinking, and finding new ideas. You probably discount intellectual activities as "nothing much." It's not that people disapprove; but a hobby like fishing is easier easier for them to get their minds around. I like doing the same things you like to do, but if I tell someone I'm learning a language because it feels good, they have trouble with it. I save that stuff for when I meet fellow nerds.

People don't really care what you do -- they're just trying to make conversation. When you say, "This and that," you' ve foiled their attempt. Do these people a favor and have some kind of answer ready -- an answer that will help them out. In the olden days long before I was rich, I used to be a school teacher. I had to have an answer ready then, too, because what the hell are people going to say after you tell them you teach English? I thought they disapproved, but the shadow passing over their faces really meant, "Shit, now what am I going to say?" And that's why their faces light up when they hear, "I'm learning how to roast my own coffee," or, "I'm thinking about building a treehouse in the back yard." Have a little mercy; they can't help it.

It might sound like I'm kidding around, but I'm not. You're geeky, and as such you may have to make a little extra effort with people who aren't geeky.
posted by wryly at 4:17 PM on February 11, 2007


JJJ, I think if you are growing and seeking, you are successful. Have you found anything yet? No. Have you had a lot of personal growth in certain 'content' areas that fascinate you? Yes. Will you eventually find something that you are passionate about and that will occupy your attentions for the rest of your productive life? Maybe. But money is no guarantor that you will. You are like the rest of us in that regard...

Someone once joked 'Why do adults seem so interested in what kids are going to do when they grow up? Because they're looking for ideas!' Welcome to the club most of us are already in, moneyed or not!

Here's the killer, JJJ, you get maybe 35,000 days. For some people, that's enough to find a passion. Sadly, for others, it never comes. By now, you've burned quite a few. In geological perspective, you're already dead. To call life a blink of an eye does a disservice to metaphor.

If your lifestyle is a problem for YOU, then I advise changing it. Get help focusing.

If it's NOT a problem for you, by all means, follow your heart as far as it takes you and see if there's anything there? What else are you going to do?

If you accidentally find your passion, follow it until you're not passionate anymore.

Repeat until death terminates the loop.

Don't let anyone else tell you you are satisfied or not. That's up to you. But don't expect to be respected unless you do respectable things. You can probably come up with your own list of what they are.

Sincere congratulations on your good fortune. I really mean it. Good for you. It's a marvellous gift. I hope you'll use it to fulfill yourself.
posted by FauxScot at 4:17 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty much in the same boat as you, in that I do not have a career, my husband brings home the income, and I don't have children to raise (mine are grown and I am now a grandma.)

In my case, what I have pursued is stuff in the arts, mostly music and songwriting, along with doing some volunteer work for my church, not to mention managing our home. (That last IS a job, albeit one looked down upon by society-which I find rather unfortunate and shortsighted.)

How blessed you are to have a husband who sees the both of you as a team.

Anyway, to get to the gist of your question, we are all put on this earth to fulfill a purpose. Whether that takes the form of a career, or fulltime homemaking and childrearing (which can simply be a season of life) or a creative endeavor, or volunteer work-matters not, in the long run.

No matter what anyone says, true success does not consist of having a job that brings home money. Some of the most successful and influential people this world has ever seen are conspicuous only in their obscurity-but had they never lived our world would have been incredibly poorer for it.
posted by konolia at 4:36 PM on February 11, 2007


PS-if and when you do have children it sounds like you would be an incredible homeschooling mom, if such would appeal to you.
posted by konolia at 4:37 PM on February 11, 2007


part of the problem, as i see it, is the lack of urgency. you don't have to work -- therefore there's nothing pushing you to start the business/write the novel/whatever.

this is one reason why second-generation wealth can screw people up so badly.

the one thing i would advise -- because everyone else has nailed it in various ways -- is to make sure you have your child/ren because you want children, not because you're bored or need a timesink.
posted by sdn at 5:42 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hate that in society, what you do often defines who you are. For example, when I was in college, my mom introduced me as "this is my student nurse," until I changed my major to computers - then it was "this is my computer tech." No, I am your daughter, who is studying those things.

So I do admire the fact that you're not running out to get a job just to appease people. I would adore the opportunity (as I'm sure many would) to spend my time doing volunteer work, or just doing work I enjoyed, even if it was low-paying. (For example, I love to babysit - it's just hard to make a living at it unless you find a couple who can afford to pay you $9/hour, and I used to work as a nanny for that amount. They moved.)

I think that the problem is some people assume if you don't have a job, you're just sitting on your butt all day in front of the tube.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:58 PM on February 11, 2007


I have MANY interests, and find myself consuming vast amounts of books, movies, plays, magazines, blogs, etc. I'm a very geeky person in that way. When I find something I like, I become obsessed with it for a while, a virtual expert, and then move on to the next thing. I'm not lazy, and I hate that people may think I am.

You may be lazier than you realize. I also have a tendency to get really interested in things and then discover something new and just keep following my passion, but without really putting roots down and developing some of these interests. I used to sort of jokingly refer to myself as a dilettante while secretly thinking I was really more of a renaissance woman, but in retrospect I think dilettante was pretty accurate

The thing is, to actually contribute, you do have to do the boring part. It's easy to read lots of books and having lots of passing interests. It's harder, but ultimately more fulfilling, to work through the tough parts and come through with something to show for it. Sometimes it is good to be challenged by life to pursue a course ( and remember "career" just means "path" or "course", really); independently wealthy people can really lose any sense of structure or drive in their lives once they get used to not needing to complete things.

If you enjoy dabbling and are satisfied more by personal relationships and family, then it is certainly an option for you to simply enjoy everyday experiences and play a supporting role. But my thinking is, you are an absolutely unique individual and you only live once: may as well get out there and have an impact.
posted by mdn at 6:04 PM on February 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


Honestly, I think you won't be fulfilled until you do something hard and stick with it. And some people won't respect you until you do.

(As a side note: I am one of the many people who reflexively look down on women who don't have jobs. I am also an asshole. But if you don't want to get scoffs from assholes like me—and that is really up to you and your comfort level—don't go on about how "managing a home" is really a job. What do you think the rest of us without wives do on top of working?)
posted by dame at 6:45 PM on February 11, 2007


Find a way to shape your passions, like your passions for learning and knowledge, into something. Part of the problem is that you need a label for what you do. When someone asks what you do, you can answer, "I'm currently researching the communication subtext in humor" or whatever. You don't have to be constrained by the opinions of others, but you'll get more respect when you have more (earned) self-respect.

Your question suggests that you have a lot of doubt. I think you'd be happier if you found some focus.
posted by theora55 at 6:53 PM on February 11, 2007


What do you think the rest of us without wives do on top of working?)

Apples and oranges.

Homemaking is more than keeping the scum from collecting inside the toilet bowl.

Yes, both people can work and make it work. But not many people have the energy to work two jobs (and that is what it would be-for BOTH partners assuming that the husband does his part) plus have time and energy for each other and for themselves. Nothing wrong with division of labor.

And I myself have been in the work force-and have been a working mom at times. So I know what I am talking about.
posted by konolia at 7:20 PM on February 11, 2007


I am not working right now, and I am throwing myself head over heels into my activist work. If taken seriously over a period of years, voluntary work is a vocation. Politics, too. Please consider focusing your time and energy on learning the ropes in/doing well in a voluntary project that needs doing.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:26 AM on February 12, 2007


Homemaking is more than keeping the scum from collecting inside the toilet bowl.

Gee, I wish toilet cleaning was all working women (and men) needed to do to keep their place from becoming a receptacle of scum...

Anyway, what matters is that this specific asker doesn't seem all too content with being a 'homemaker'. She's the one who's expressing that lack of satisfaction because she feels she has passions and skills she wants to find a productive outlet for, to avoid letting herself down and having regrets.

Without a sense of urgency and need, that drive to stick with it is less strong, so she has to force herself a lot more than if she was forced by circumstances, a boss, clients, deadlines, etc. I think it's worth it when you know you have some capabilities, it'd be a shame to let them go to waste.
posted by pleeker at 5:49 AM on February 12, 2007


Is it possible to be a well-respected and fulfilled person without having a career?

People make things. People who make things well feel fulfilled and earn respect. People who make things poorly or not at all do not feel fulfilled or earn respect. So do something, make something, build something, even if doing so isn't a moneymaking career, or you will regret it later in life.

Maybe making a family is (part of) your destiny. Or (and?) write books (for example, poetry, local history, or unusual biography) or learn to paint or write songs. Or build up a certain charity. Do something that will still matter after you're dead.

If I had no job and no pressure to have a job, I would be learning and doing at least three things at a time. You could devote part of every day to physical cultivation (because nothing's worth a damn if you have poor health) and social cultivation (because good friends are better than anything) and mental cultivation (because learning comes before creating) and still have time to create something good that will outlast you.

If you find something at which you are talented, you may also find a way to make a profitable career of it.
posted by pracowity at 6:32 AM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is my first "ask" so I don't know how to reply. Should I address everyone? I marked some favorites but so many people have said things that have struck me, I wanted to mark almost all of them!

Thank you all so much for such thorough and thoughtful answers. I was expecting more like MethylViolet's because I just assume that most people have that kind of attitude toward me and my lifestyle.

I guess I'm a jill of all trades. I have written songs and played in bands; knit and sewn clothes; painted furniture; started and run a jewelry company; designed and programmed websites; studied music theory, digital animation, film history; written, directed and edited films; organized big events; written recipes; blogged; built computers; learned to scuba dive and surf; and I've done home improvements and construction work. My latest interests are clothing design, aviation, and interior decorating.

To be honest, the non-profit organizations I worked with have consisted of either socialite luncheons or were so unorganized I felt like I was wasting my time. The ones I would still consider trying are Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity, but pleeker made me realize something I hadn't been able to verbalize: I need to figure out life for myself before I assign most of my time to helping others. Archbr made the point that I'm looking for something that is mine, beyond my accomplishment of a great home and family life. He's right.

Yes, I'm smart, and I have many talents, but I don't have a very impressive work ethic. I need to learn to devote myself to something, and as josh pointed out, get past the fun learning stage and get to the boring part. I start and don't finish. As sdn said, the urgency isn't there. I can luxuriate in my husband's support til the cows come home, all the while punishing myself inside for not being accomplished. There's no one standing over my shoulder making me get shit done. I think the answer is plain old discipline. To pick a goal and focus on it. And this conversation has made me come to the realization that adding more "hobbies" such as volunteering and part-time work are just going to become distractions--unless they are working toward that goal. (By the way, I did hire a life coach once, and found that to be somewhat of a racket. The best thing I learned to use was a system of goal setting--start small--and the Franklin-Covey time management system.) Sitting back for a couple years is fine, but I've been doing that for a couple years!

I realize how lucky I am and I know it might anger some people to see me talking about this situation as a "problem." I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I'm very grateful! I'm really impressed and thrilled with the personalities and opinions that have been expressed on this blog. It's very rare to have such a constructive discussion on the Internet.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


P.S. When people ask what I do, I say, "Not much!" and laugh, and they laugh. I guess that self-deprication makes everyone more comfortable. Anyway, since I moved from NYC to Chicago the concept of being a housewife is much more socially acceptable. Then they get to know me and start asking why I don't do anything more...
posted by JJ Jenkins at 12:21 PM on February 12, 2007


As someone attempting the "self-discipline" route right now (I'm a freelance- or trying to be) let me say, it's not easy!! I'm in a similar situation where I'm trying to find something to call mine, have done lots of different things but have never really buckled down and took any of those things beyond a certain point. I've also come to realize that just sitting around doing whatever you want all day (which for me consists of eating, TV, web surfing, reading- consumption of all kinds) is totally boring after a while. :) No matter how great it sounds in theory.

I read somewhere recently (I forget where, sorry!) that people need to have social influence outside their family in order to feel fulfilled. Most normal jobs fill this quota easily- you have this group of people who's not your family and yet who relies on you and you rely on them and you all work together. I think that's what they mean by "influence".

Also, having people rely on you makes you work harder and actually do those things you otherwise might not finish on your own. It's a psychological fact that people work harder when they feel they're being observed, and I believe this goes beyond them actually physically watching you work- just having someone care about your results or expecting them can be enough to impel you to work.


So I would say you need to do more than just figure out what you want to do and stick with it- you need to have some sort of social group outside your family or spouse relying upon or caring about what you're doing.

I think the social group could be fulfilled in many ways- a writer's club, designing clothes or interiors for non-profit groups- there's got to be some way you can take your interest and not only use it to benefit others but also have them benefit you.
posted by thejrae at 10:57 PM on February 13, 2007


That is a very interesting observation. It makes total sense and I've seen it happen in the past. I actually have an appointment scheduled for next week to meet some interior designers about a possible part-time job/internship. I'm thinking that having that responsibility (even just the meeting itself) will help with what you're talking about. Also, as someone else said, a structured obligation will make me value my personal time and use it more wisely.

A trick I have, which I can't really use every day, is make appointments early in the morning. Gym/yoga class, deliveries, dentist, etc. That way I don't sleep til 11 and then feel like my whole day is wasted.
posted by JJ Jenkins at 8:09 AM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Only took a brief preview.

I know your situation exactly: I'm in it right now. This won't last forever, but its lasted almost a year now, and it'll continue to last another couple more years of never having to work. For me, I am a HUGELY creative person, but I never really focus my efforts. This is probably because I've never had lots of time or consciously expended enough effort to find the things that really suit me without all the distractions. So now, my goal is to do something creative, every single day. I simply call it "output".

My output can be going out to take a series of photos, doctoring up one in GIMP, drawing a picture, writing a story, cooking a complexly creative meal, writing a blog entry or other web geekery, writing a song, creating a business plan, et cetera. If I really wanted to do something more creative, anything handmade: a collage, magnets, greeting cards, a mobile, picture frames, wire sculpture. Whatever. Your "job" could be as easy as selling this kind of stuff! (Though, I'm mostly not that good, imo.)

The plan is to eventually find a niche of things that I'm good at, enjoy doing, and won't mind working on for a good couple of years, and somehow turn them into a business. Nothing you ever do has to be permanent. On average, people change their career 7 times throughout their lives. 7 times is a lot, given the relatively short amount of time we have on this planet if you ask me.

Anyway, I came to this conclusion because I wanted to make my downtime last as long as I could, so I tried to find ways to spend less money. This led me to the conclusion that I need to spend less time consuming entertainment, and more time creating my own. While this doesn't sound like a factor to you, it may be a worthwhile thing to consider.

The important thing is to DO something. Anything that helps to make you, the people that surround you, or the world at large a better place is a contribution.

Also, from personal experience, you might consider going on an information diet and/or try to generally be more discriminating.
posted by troubadour at 10:02 AM on February 21, 2007


I need to learn to devote myself to something, and as josh pointed out, get past the fun learning stage and get to the boring part.

I think that's your answer right there. Working for someone else is a terrific way to learn discipline...or at least to learn how to overcome the need to just do what feels good in the short term. If you have the right kind of job -- one you enjoy and care about -- it will teach you patience and force you to overcome stubbornness.

Consider that it's totally okay to just be a great parent and focus on your kids.

I'm not so sure I agree. I come from a long line of incredibly smart women who didn't have anything constructive to do with their talents. So they poured their energies into micro-managing their families, shopping obsessively, yelling at salespeople, nagging their husbands, etc. I'm not saying that every full-time homemaker has those problems, but I do think that under-utilizing your talents can cause a kind of emotional/intellectual decay.

Of course, YMMV. But I would have happily traded having a full-time mom for having a more fulfilled mom with a rich professional life of her own.
posted by equipoise at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Aha! Now that no one's paying attention anymore, I found the quote I was looking for:

"Contentment comes from identifying the gifts you have been given, submitting them to the necessary training, and then engaging them in work." -Arthur F. Miller

Always been true for me.
posted by equipoise at 3:37 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


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