What should I do with my life?
May 8, 2008 6:12 PM Subscribe
20-something INTP, bored to death in his corporate gig, asks: What should I do with my life?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (28 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in my mid-20's. I studied philosophy at a very good school. I'm now working in a corporate job that would probably be a great job if I didn't completely hate it. It's well-paying, humane, and I'm surrounded by smart people. I think the problem is just me. I find I'm unable to work hard on stuff that I don't find intrinsically interesting. I get bored quickly, and I'm not motivated enough by money or approval to overcome it. Some people are able to profitably rent out their minds; I'm not.
I spend most of my time reading papers on the Internet, dwelling on philosophical, social, and scientific problems, and writing lengthy emails to friends and acquaintances about Big Ideas. I don't purport to claim any of this is productive or valuable. But what's clear is I'm not a good fit for my employers, my employer isn't a good fit for me, and I'm just wasting everyone's time and money. It's been this way in my last two or three jobs as well. The stuff I'm good at -- deep thinking, complicated problem solving, coming up with new ideas and working out their implications -- just doesn't seem to overlap much with the job requirements of most jobs.
The question is what to do instead. I've applied to law school for the fall and have gotten into some great programs. I think I'd be good at law. I'm an analytical thinker and I actually take pleasure in working through dense thickets of language. But I'm afraid if I wind up in law, I'll run into the same problems I face in my current job, only worse: I'll be stuck in an office all day (and all night), working on problems I don't find interesting, wishing I could just write and think and work on interesting problems instead. I don't know though -- if I totally hate the practice of law (I'm pretty sure I'll like law school), I could always practice for a few years, pay off my loans, then get out, with a lot more "options" available to me than I have now.
Alternatively, writing/journalism and academia both seem like decent choices. At least with those, I could write, think, and have a lot more control over my work day and the projects I pursue. But they both have their drawbacks: while I'm not out to get rich, I don't look forward to a life of instability, unease, and relative penury that seem to await many people in those fields. I do value security and comfort.
As you can see, I also tend to talk myself out of things. I'm a thinker and an over-thinker. In the process of trying to figure everything out, I just wind up taking the path of least resistance. Hence my current situation. So, before I plunge $180k into debt, please advise me: what should I do with my life?