if i start crying at my desk again, i am ... well, i don't know what i'd do.
May 20, 2010 7:25 AM   Subscribe

What if it's not ADHD, bipolar, depression, or anxiety? What if I just am not made for this stupid cubicle, 401k, 9-5 crap? I know that many people do it and that sometimes you have to suck it up, but when I keep having freak outs and get more and more depressed and meds don't help and i just feel like i am fighting myself all the time, isn't it time to try a new plan?

After suffering from unexplainable bouts of depression, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties, that have been increasing over the past few years, I saw an MS specialist this morning. My new psychiatrist wanted to rule out MS, since meds for ADHD, anxiety, and depression only work for a few weeks for me and then stop working completely.

After all the testing, the MS doctor was asking me about school and what I do. I told him about how I went to state school because I couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. I hate my current job, and most jobs, because I am in a cubicle all day. He said, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” And I was very quiet for a long moment and got very very sad, thinking of the things I have wanted to do. I said, “Well, I’d be an archeologist, or work in a museum. But I couldn’t afford to go to school for that. I couldn’t move away to go to school because my dad died and the state school didn’t offer programs in archeology or art history.” He said, “well you have a degree, you can do anything.”

I have been trying to not cry since, and this was over an hour ago. I actually have been crying. I feel like such a fraud, like I am living such a lie, everyday when I go to work. I can’t do these stupid jobs, with spreadsheets and fluorescent lighting and everyday same hours same desk same computer. I need medication to do these jobs and the medications don’t work.

What do I want to do? If I could do anything, I would be digging up dinosaur bones and ancient cities. But I’m always told about how I need to have retirement and medical insurance and savings, and I feel like all I do all day is spend time going to and from a job where I sit all freaking day doing stupid shit I don’t care about (but doing it well enough that I get great reviews), and then I get home and then I have to do dishes and pick up the house and do laundry and cook stuff, and if there’s time left after all that, maybe I have time to write, or play music, or go to a bar to see some friends and hear music, but it’s too late by that point, because I know that I need to get to bed by 11 so I can get up the next day because I can’t pull late nights like I used to.
I can’t believe that this is what I worked my ass off for 5 years while working full time and going to school full time. I have always been happiest doing research or investigating stuff. I spent a summer out west when I sort of ran away from home and lived in a van and went to all sorts of ghost towns and I loved it. I found all these neat pieces of dishware, some with markings on it of the manufacturer (which I have looked up, how cool, right?) , and old pieces of fabric. It was so neat to see the old sidewalks and foundations and to think how they must have lived.

I still have the first book I ever got about egpyt – it was about mummies and I still read it occasionally even though it’s a kid’s book. I loved my art history classes, especially the ones that focused on the ancient civs. My art history prof used to say the most awesome things, like “when I lived in a mud brick house on Crete during my dissertation” or talk about how she met some of the big wigs of the blackmarket artifact trade.

I guess being an art history prof would be the most practical realization of my dreams, but everyone tells me it’s such a hard field to get into, that it doesn’t pay well, and that with tenure going away at most universities, I’m going to be screwed.

I feel that I have constantly tried to follow the rules of the game to be a responsible person and to make my loved ones happy. And they say they want me to be happy and do what I want, but I feel like I have to choose between making them happy and making myself happy. I am not satisfied.

I want to explore, whether it be the past or present or future. I went to see an Imax movie about the Hubble. It was in 3-D and at times, it was literally like going thru space on a space ship. Tears were just streaming down my face as I realized that it was as close to space travel as I will ever get.

I feel that I am trying to package myself into places and ideas that I don’t fit into. The responsible people always tell me that I am just trying to run away, to not be a responsible adult, that I need to plan for my future. What future?

I am so depressed and so unhappy and so unsatisfied with my life. But changes take money, which I don’t have. I have $40,000 in student loans from undergrad. If I want to go to grad school, we’re looking at a whole bunch more. I am 32 now. I just want to scream and run off into the sunset.

If money were no object, I'd travel the world and write history books and historical fiction. I have never written a book, but I've written lots of papers. I absolutely loved writing my art history papers.

I don't know if I need a degree in art history or history or an MFA, or what. But I need a something that is not what I have now. I am quite literally going crazy.

This is a sockpuppet so I that I can answer. Yes I’m in therapy. My new psychiatrist is awesome, i see him tomorrow. he is not about pills but trying to find what may be the cause of the things and not jumping at the current fad diagnosis. my therapist is ok, but i can't get into see her until next week.
posted by inmyhead to Grab Bag (36 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I think there are a lot of people who aren't cut out for cubicle/office life. There's nothing wrong with that. Just because our society nowadays tends to reward people with a little more stability and a little more money for it doesn't make it an ideal career choice for everyone.

I think you should take an accounting of what you can live on while still saving a little bit and working down your debts. Most people spend more money than they really need to, and that turns into a lifestyle inflation that makes workers panic and get paralyzed when thinking about something other than the career path they've already started on.

I would also encourage volunteer work, while you're staying at your current position. Are there museums near you? Could you take a week off and go on an archaeological dig? Is there a historic preservation society near you? A lot of what you describe as fun is actually hour upon hour of tedious work that might not be as much fun when you get into it. Not to discourage you, but work is work in many ways across disciplines.

Another thing to consider is counseling of another sort by going to a career counselor. If you're unhappy at work, somone who can fit your work style and aspirations to the correct career and help you find the resources/education/etc. that you need to realize that career might be more helpful than therapy that won't change anything unless your situation changes.

Lastly (whew!) I have a degree in Art History, and while it's really tough to get work in the field in major metropolitan areas (I'm in Boston...my Art History degree can basically line bird cages here), when I graduated, I was told that museums in smaller cities, rural areas, etc., are much easier places to find employment in the field.
posted by xingcat at 7:37 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Good luck to you and I hope things work out. I've spent 20 years in a career that I don't really like. It pays well, and I'm on treadmill of mortgage, 401k, etc. Unlike you I don't really have any ambitions. If money were no object I'd ride my bike in the sunshine, drink beer and eat nice food. Small changes are working for me. Tiny steps along the way to one day doing what I want with my time.
posted by fixedgear at 7:42 AM on May 20, 2010

So, if you did go back to school and study what you want, and collect more debt, you'd be more unhappy . . . how?

You're not doing what you want. You're miserable. Go do what you want and hang the cost. Which would you rather be, a cubicle-ist trying to pay off debt, or an archeologist trying to pay off debt?
posted by JanetLand at 7:47 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yah, get out of your job. Life is too short to hate your job.

Museum jobs are going to be extremely hard to get, especially in a glamor field like archeology. Just know that up front. Academia is tough. There are lots of underemployed Ph. D.'s out there.

That said, if you are willing to devote your life to it, there's always room for someone who's truly dedicated, so long as they're willing to go wherever a job is.

But there are other jobs that take out out into the field. Being an oil company geologist takes you all around the world, for example, shuttling between labs and rock formations out in the world. Landscape architect. Oil rig worker. Taxi driver. Hell, being a truck driver gets you out of the house and you roam all around the world.

Volunteer for the Peace Corps. Join the Army.

It might not be ADHD. It might be that you want to be in a job where you can directly see what you are accomplishing. Go for it.
posted by musofire at 7:48 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: volunteering- i actually have just finished training to be a volunteer at a local helpline - people call for info about services and just to have someone listen. it's pretty cool, i like helping people.

i don't have a car pymt or anything, no mortgage, i live with my boyfriend who own his house.

i've been considering taking a leave of absence from work rather than quitting. i don't know how that works.

my boyfriend can support us both financially for a couple years while i pursue things.

i'll see what the local musuem type places might have. i am in an east coast state capital, so while not NYC, it's also not BFE. lots of history stuff around these here parts.

my pdoc thinks that a lot of people (including me) who have ADD/ADHD would have been fine in the past (generally speaking) because things like working in a field required much more movement and you had to be more vigilant of your surroundings, whereas sitting a computer all day will make lots of people nuts. of course, he also thinks it should be medicated if it's bad enough and that there are organic causes for it in some people.
posted by inmyhead at 7:48 AM on May 20, 2010

Carpenter. Handyman/woman. Plumber. You work at your own speed and meet new people every time you go out on a new job.
posted by musofire at 7:50 AM on May 20, 2010

Response by poster: more posts popped up while i was writing that.

janetland - your answer is making me cry, for the truth of it.

i think i need to leave my office now. i had already told them i was taking off some vacation time tomorrow and next week. i think i'll just start it now.

i'll check back in on this later.

thank you, mefites, for being here.
posted by inmyhead at 7:51 AM on May 20, 2010

This answer doesn't quite answer your question, but it may give you some food for thought. If you come to the conclusion that you seriously want to change jobs, and archaeology is your passion but you feel you don't have the money- you may want to look into Cultural Resource Management (CRM), which is essentially private sector archaeology. In terms of schooling, a degree will help, but you can start out with just a course in field methods, (or a "field school") which can usually be completed through a local university in the summer. It's very hands-on and does great work helping to determine if sites that are slated for development or construction are archeologically significant. Memail if you'd like more info- I'm an anthropologist, not an archaeologist, but I certainly have colleagues I could connect you with. As someone who is also trying to figure out their place in life right now, I wish you the best of luck!
posted by Polyhymnia at 7:54 AM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]

1. I am 34 and about to go to graduate school. I have a stunning amount of student loan debt--more than yours. Hey, at least it won't accrue interest while I'm in grad school! More seriously: It's not like that debt is going to magically go away if you don't go to graduate school. That much debt is just kind of part of your life for a while. Or that's how I see it. My happiness and fulfillment and the example I set for my kids is SO MUCH MORE important than my debt level.

2. I understand the whole 'need 401k' thing, but: Working your whole life just to be able live out your last years without financial trouble is no way to live. If you go to grad school and start some job that's far cooler to you at, say, 36 or 38, you will save enough to live on when you retire. It'll be okay. Also: Happiness versus money. Happiness wins. And the people who are all "blah blah blah be responsible" are also the people who say you always settle in marriage and who say that most people aren't happy and nobody ever likes their job. To which I call bullshit. You have a responsibility to yourself, here, to seek fulfillment.

Your post reads like a cry in the dark, so I just want to say: You'll be okay. I recognize this angst and I got past it. You can, too. You are worthy of a good, fulfilling life.
posted by hought20 at 7:55 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

You don't mention where you're located, but taking night classes that really interest you could help a lot. There are a lot of things that would be really difficult about pursuing a career in ancient history/archaeology (I'm doing that now, and it's not easy), but there are some things that you can start doing now: language classes, art history classes, museum administration classes. If by any chance you're in the Boston area, Harvard Extension is a wonderful resource (they even have a part-time Museum Studies MA program that I seriously considered). If (more likely) you're not in Massachusetts, there are probably similar programs at large universities-- I wish I could link you to some, but with some online research you should be able to find some.

One possible career option that came to mind while reading this is museum education-- I don't know if you're at all interested in working with kids, but it would require you to learn about the museum's collection in depth (this is something I really loved when I worked at a museum) and think about interesting ways to share all the great stuff your museum has to offer. I believe you'd have to go back to school for this, but it would probably be a less difficult road than getting a PhD in history or art history while still being much less deadening than an office job.

Anyway, if you ever want to talk, feel free to memail me. It sounds like we share a lot of the same interests, and I definitely sympathize.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2010

Awwww, I'm so sorry you're feeling crappy. Lots of people aren't cut out for cubes. I'm definitely one of them. People have given you good advice and I'd just like to pull out a few things that stuck out for me

- The crying all the time seems like a stress reaction. I know this is sort of a "duh" thing to say, but even when I was hating my cube job, it didn't make me cry every day, I just didn't like it. You feel trapped and it's making you feel like the job (which you may not like for your own reasons) is trapping you. Point #1.
- Boyfriend can support you bla bla. While I'm often not jumping on the "let another person support you while you get your shit together" bandwagong, this could at least give you some breathing room. You need to figure out if the job is the main reason you're just unable to function or if you have other issues. Take a few months [as you suggested] and see if your unhappiness grasps on to something else or if distance from the job really does result in a life improvement. Point #2
- It's easy to think that somethign else would make you happy when you're so desperately unhappy. The thing in my life that was sort of a wake up call was the "Why am I always dying to run away literally at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME when I absolutely can't run away...?!" and backing up I realized that I wanted to run away because I was doing too much at once, had too many obligations and felt trapped and that inspired a flight response. Sometimes you just have to leave. When I was a kid I had to move out of my Mom's house. Last year I had to quit my library job. When you go against the grain you will get people telling you that you haven't made the right decision. Part of depression is that it's really really hard to deal with these people. It becomes one more bad thing in a life of bad things. But you'll have to [with the help of your shrink, and your boyfriend] build a believable narrative of what your life could look like that isn't based on a cube farm and isn't just a fantasy dream world. You seem to understand that other jobs require work and sacrifice and that's it's not just that you're lazy or whatever. So, okay. Go. Try. Point #3.

I have a non-cube life that makes me moderately happy most of the time [and I'm prone towards the blues] but I do have to, still, tell people "well that works for you, it wouldn't work for me. This is what is working for me" That's sort of a standard reply that you have to have ready when you're doing something that's not strictly cube-farm normal. And hey, the cube farm routine also works for some people, so that's okay too. Try to rewrite your story and plan your days working towards where you want to be. It sounds like you've got some good resources but you're in a bad space. That's better in some ways than the reverse. Good luck. Check in with us later and let us know howit's going.
posted by jessamyn at 8:01 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Quit the cubicle and go follow your dream. There is no reason why you should make yourself miserable doing this. Dinosaur bones are awesome (and even if I didn't think so, you do), fluorescent lights suck. Get used to saying what jessamyn says to people who don't understand why you want to do what you want to do, and don't look back.
posted by bardophile at 8:21 AM on May 20, 2010

Definitely quit. Quit ASAP! I'm a quitter. Our situations are different, but I've had that awful feeling before -- to the point where I had some similar sort of mini nervous breakdown. I found another job which wasn't my Life's Ambition, but it felt great just to be in another environment. Then after a couple of years, when I started to get that feeling again, I quit again. I have a mortgage and kids, though! I would absolutely quit if I were you. Doing anything different now will feel amazing. It's like you can breathe again. It's good that you know what the source of your stress is -- I just thought I was losing it. Good luck. You will be okay.
posted by theredpen at 8:24 AM on May 20, 2010

I think you should quit, too. However, a note on museums:

If you work in a museum, you are run a good chance of finding yourself in another office situation. Except this time, you'll have to risk dealing with the godawful screaming public, too.

I work in a state science museum, and many people here spend too much time in a cubicle. I certainly do. And I spend the rest of my time herding destructive, entitled, and uncontrolled children. I have similar ADD issues, and thought working in a museum would be perfect for me. But I'm burning out, and will probably reach a state of misery likes yours, one day.

I don't get retirement or insurance, and I get paid terribly, although full-time employees here do receive benefits. But you can't spend all of your time digging up delightful artifacts in the field. More bullshit than you can imagine will be expected of you. Some people are very happy with these jobs, but it requires a lot of patience, organization, focus, dedication, and attention to detail. It also requires you to be endlessly tolerant of flaky volunteers and insane, rude visitors. If you're lucky, you can be holed up in the basement with your work, but that's the exception at my workplace, as far as I can tell.

If you really love the subject matter, it may be worth it -- but I really love the subject matter of the exhibit I work in, and I am so tired of being poor, so tired of the hundreds of children I have to corral everyday, so tired of the same garbage that comes along with any office environment, and so tired of doing emotional labor.
posted by Coatlicue at 8:27 AM on May 20, 2010

I strongly recommend going on an actual dig before making any big decisions.

I was an archeology major before I went on a dig - I then changed to cultural anthropology. Digs may not be what you expect.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:34 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

What do you do on your free time? Does it make you happy? You mentioned doing dishes, laundry, etc - you'll have to do that for the rest of your life regardless of profession (unless you win the lottery, but let's not count on that). In no way am I advocating that you stay in a job that makes you miserable, but having a life that fulfills you outside of your job makes a world of difference! It gives you something to look forward to all day. Do you look forward to your weekends because it doesn't involve work or because it will involve _________ ?

How about pursuing a hobby? Taking a night class in archeology or art history or whatever? Taking a scheduled gym class (then you HAVE to be there at a certain time) or running with a group (running/walking groups tend to be super supportive)? Those endorphins work wonders on depression!

One of the best remedies for depression is to force yourself to be busy, in things you like/are good at, because it doesn't allow you time to ruminate on the perceived black-hole that is your life.
[I'm very depression-prone and the worst thing is to have spare time when it hits. Whereas flooding my brain with intellectual pursuits that I enjoy works wonders. Sometimes even being busy with trying out a different food recipe helps, bc then I'm like, "look, at least this I can do right!"]

ALSO: when you are doing your chores around the house, do it with an audio book in whatever interests you, not music, but something that requires your mental attention (and in something that you'd gladly give your mental attention). The chores will go by much faster while you listen and you won't let your brain think about the yuckiness of depressed life.

Best of luck! *mefi hug*
posted by Neekee at 8:39 AM on May 20, 2010

I wont comment on the job stuff because I think everyone else has got that covered pretty well but on the unexplained bouts of depression/anxiety that aren't helped by meds issue - have you had your B12 levels checked?

I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record on this but my 1000 micrograms per day B12 supplement has changed my life. I no longer get random bouts of irritability, anxiety or depression, that don't respond to meds, I had even started to experience some 'mild mania', which really frightened me - not so much the mania itself, that was kinda nice (if unproductive) but what it might mean. I described my symptoms to a psychiatrist (an internet one - not a real evaluation), she was certain I was bipolar and I should get to my GP asap.

You mention you've just been to an MS specialist, I don't know how reputable this site is but it suggest there are a lot of shared symptoms and obviously a simple b12 deficiency is a much less depressing diagnosis so worth checking out if your Dr hasn't already ruled it out.
posted by missmagenta at 9:19 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

In the meantime, until you get some classes or other educational options, there is always the library. Get some books or videos about the things you are actually interested in so you can get a little pre-taste while you're sorting stuff out.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:33 AM on May 20, 2010


I'm about to leave a job in the middle of a recession to do a PhD without securing funding (yet). People have said I'm mad, but so what?

Get out. Volunteer at a museum for a while. Get to know people. Life is too short to spend it in a job you hate.
posted by knapah at 9:40 AM on May 20, 2010

Oh man, have I been there. I can't give you advice on archeology jobs or anything, but I just want to say - it's your life, you have to do what makes you happy. It's good to have savings, and back-up plans, and to have the ability to do things you don't want to do - but none of these should come at the expense of pervasive, unending unhappiness. I mean, you could be hit by a truck the day you retire. Do you want to spend decades miserable and sacrificing for a payoff you might never receive?

I was going to go into academia when I realized that even the friendly, independent, stimulating atmosphere of a university is too predictable and restrictive for me. My current plan is to become a nurse and, living frugally, spend half my time saving lives and the other half travelling, writing, taking random odd jobs, and just experiencing the shit the world has to offer. My friends and family have been supportive, but even if they weren't - they don't have to live my life. I do.

It takes bravery and open-mindedness and self-sufficiency and nerves of steel to step off the beaten path - and if you are a self-doubter, like I am, you'll continually be tempted to step back - but there is no reason at all, not a single one, for you to continue the way you are, if it's making you so unhappy.
posted by shaun uh at 9:57 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yay! Congratulations! Welcome to your life. Finally.

Before focusing on grad school, or other things you might 'need' to do to achieve your goal, spend as much time as you can having fun exploring. It may be that you find something that it perfect, with no more schooling needed. It may be that you find something that is almost perfect. It may be that you find you want to go in a bit of a different direction. Allow yourself some time before you commit to anything. But stay excited and stay in action. Put as many hours into finding yourself as you did your hours at work, as hours focused on you are worth more than that. (meaning, be very careful not to slip into doing nothing, our culture can do that to us)

Volunteer, give yourself projects, exploratory trips, go around meeting people doing what you want to do.

I am so excited for you!
posted by Vaike at 10:07 AM on May 20, 2010

Go for it! So many people wonder what they love and what to do with themselves. There are a million posts on AMF: "What should I do with my life?"

But you KNOW what you want to do. So do it! I have a friend who is in grad school for archaeology. She worked her ass off in undergrad and gets grad school paid for. You can do it. Go!
posted by alternateuniverse at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2010

I worked at the Museum of Science (Boston) Camp-In program for 6 years. It was a part-time gig where you generally worked one overnight shift (3pm - 11 am the next day) once or twice a month during the school year. In many ways it was the best job I ever had. If you like kids it is definitely something that you should look into. I would apply now for next season.

Also, have you thought of the National Park Service? It can be very hard to get a job (unless you are a veteran) but the interpretive ranger jobs seem like they might suit you well.
posted by a22lamia at 10:21 AM on May 20, 2010

Bail your crap cube job for something more interesting, sure-- but make sure you have adequate support mechanisms in place. You don't want to bail and find out that it really is an underlying condition that they just haven't figured out yet that's making everything seem equally crappy.

(I got a migraine problem treated and a bunch of weird, niggling, upsetting underlying mood and cognitive issues also vanished. I don't have a hard theory of what the hell happened nailed down yet-- that's awaiting a followup with my neuro-- but SSRIs, Wellbutrin, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, benzos, etc. had done precisely jack for me, ever. Migraine prophylaxis med, a week or so of initial dosing, and people who weren't me were remarking on how calm and content I seemed.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:57 AM on May 20, 2010

There's a certain tipping point between money and health, and your health needs to be taken care of. If your boyfriend is willing to support you while you figure things out, I say go for it. If you need money, any other job would be better, as you wouldn't be associating it with those feelings of dread.

Art history and archeology are fascinating, my undergrad degree was in those fields. They're also super competitive. Its easier to become a volunteer than to find a position. What skills do you have from your cube-job, from your degree? Where do you live? How far are you willing to travel? What's your time frame? Can you spend a certain amount to travel?

For archeology stateside, Passport in Time is run by the Forest Service. You pay your expenses, but in turn you get to volunteer for a few days on a dig out West. The NPS also likes volunteers. Check out Idealist and serve.gov for cultural resources volunteer positions (keywords like museum, history, archeology, etc).

You may not be able to jump straight into the position of your dreams, but volunteering will give you a change of pace and exposure to people who are passionate about the same fields. I'd also suggest volunteering and auditing a few courses before jumping into a grad program.

Make sure you won't end up in a box, but you have plenty of time to drop this job and find a new field. Your job shouldn't make you cry everyday, no amount of security or money is worth that soul-sucking. Can you go on disability? Health insurance should be kept in mind if you need it.
posted by shinyshiny at 12:27 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you should look for any job right now that has more kinesthetic value than sitting in a cube. You don't need to put all your eggs in one basket and jump head first into more school that very well might result in another desk job. Just quit your current job and find any job that will let you do more with your hands. Check out the utilities (electricity, water / sewage plants. wind farming, nuclear power plant etc) in your area and see if you can enter a technician trainging position. I think you are overestimating the amount of actual digging activity in the life on an employed archeologist.

Also, don't blame it on the fact that you went to state school. Lots of people went to state school. based on the sizes of them, I bet most people went to state schools. The public college vs. private college areguement is for the birds. After high school you are responsible for educating yourself and the school is merely a facility to give you a piece of paper to prove you can educate yourself.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:30 PM on May 20, 2010

Oh yea, this is going to be a little left field, but I hate being in a cube too and watching the shows "Dirty Jobs" on discovery and "Sports Jobs" on VS and "Modern Marvels" on History actually give you a taste of some jobs that definitely get you out of a cube in doing something. Mike Rowe is a whiner- some of the jobs aren't even dirty unless you're super delicate (like potato farming...).
posted by WeekendJen at 12:35 PM on May 20, 2010

*get you out of a cube and doing something
posted by WeekendJen at 12:35 PM on May 20, 2010

I think things are sometimes what you make of them. Some people see a boring easy desk job, some people see a job that lets you write books and work at the same time plus easily gather money for wonderful vacations and paying off debts.

For many people their job is not what fulfills them, it is what enables their enjoyment - be it giving their children a stable life, funding hobbies, etc.

If you do have a strong driving passion for something then you definitely should get out there and do it on behalf of all us desk jockeys though.
posted by meepmeow at 1:23 PM on May 20, 2010

I also suggest doing an archaeological vacation. (I went on a dig on Hadrian's Wall with Earthwatch, it was teh awesome.) Maybe you find out that's the only thing you want to do. Maybe you find out digging isn't as fun as you thought. Maybe you find out cubicle life is tolerable if you save up to go on a dig every year.

Not everyone doing the physical labor on a dig is an archaeologist, by the way. There are lots of grunty type jobs that you could get without needing an archaeology degree! Is there a local college or university with an archaeology department? Maybe you could volunteer to do scut work for a couple professors to get your foot in the door.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:58 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you need something to keep your interest while you're deciding where to go next, I suggest genealogy. There are lots of www resources that can get you back into your own history and satisfy your desire to do research. I was kind of "oh, yawn" when my sister first tried to get me interested, but the thrill of the chase really got to me as time went on. It also got me interested in the history of the specific locales where ancestors lived in different eras, which fleshed things out. And, if you get to a brick wall at some point in your family history, you have an excuse to travel to the area where the wall is to find documents in court houses, libraries, churches and the like. Once I knew where to look, I even got paid for some research. The cost, apart from travel is relatively minor.And you get to learn about the scandels that your ancestors gossipped about way back when.

And, really, doing dishes, with or without a dishwasher, is not a gruelling task. And, buy enough underwear to last 2 weeks to make laundry less of an issue.
posted by path at 3:14 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a problem I can relate with HUGELY (and I would imagine a lot of people do)! I felt very similarly after school and eventually gave up on finding happiness through my full time job. I ended up having a really great time trying to do what I wanted in my free time! I know that sounds defeatist in regard to your post but... a full time job is kinda awesome in some ways and you should see those benefits (401K, people skills, business skills, etc.) Seriously though, your day job isn't everything and if you push hard to do what you WANT to do as much as you can... one day it might end up being what your doing.

I went to school for architecture and often when an architecture student gets out of school their job is NOT what they were taught to believe it would be in school. Your not saving the world, your not designing amazing things, your not breaking the mold, your just kind of sitting there in your cubical helping someone else make a lot of money. Most people I know just dealt with it (which I still can't fathom) but I decided to start doing what I wanted (even if it was only theoretical projects... and not actual built work) in my free time. I had a great time and I lived for the moment I got out of work to do MY stuff.

I eventually quit my job, because my husband got a job in NYC and we had to move. I wasn't all that excited about it at the time because I thought we would be poor and WE ARE. I looked for a new job for a while but with no luck. I am now in the process of starting my own design firm and its great, and I definitely would be able to do it without the experience I gained while working in my free time!

I know this doesn't relate to archeology but.... working in your free time can be AWESOME and SATISFYING, just stop thinking your 9-5 job has to make you happy, and start working toward something that does!!

I think this is an AWESOME project and maybe you will find it inspiring

If not... run into the sunset screaming, it might be just what you need :)
posted by LZel at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's anything wrong with coming to the realization that you're not cut out for a job in a cube farm. However, I'd of course caution you against leaping into something based on a romanticized vision of what the profession involves, without making a very thorough investigation of the actual conditions, and what sorts of skills are required to be good at it.

Many--maybe most--archaeologists, for example, only spend a couple months out of the year doing field work. The rest of the year is spent teaching and analyzing data, including endless hours weighing and measuring crap, working on spreadsheets, running statistical analyses, etc. etc. Even fieldwork requires a great deal of meticulous recording and measuring and photographing and ... it requires a pretty methodical mind, frankly.

Of course your professors told you cool stories about the places they'd been and the things they'd done, but that's a fairly small part of their overall workload.

Think seriously about those who have suggested exploring the skilled trades, or some other mostly non-desk job that has stronger job prospects than art history or archaeology (green technology, for example).
posted by drlith at 4:02 PM on May 20, 2010

Quit and go back to school. Don't worry about the debt -- you need to find yourself. I did this 8 years ago when I felt similar to you (except I was in retail - ugh!) Now I'm in a cubicle and am fairly content.

Also note that many museum jobs take place in a cubicle just like the one you're in, so be careful what you wish for. Get an internship and learn all you can.
posted by coolguymichael at 5:23 PM on May 20, 2010

things to consider:

-teaching English overseas


-Peace Corps

_Fulbright Scholarship

I, like you, don't like 9-5 work. I lived in China for several years, teaching and studying, and was able to make a comfortable living. It's not hard to find teaching jobs in Asia.

I've also heard great things about the Peace Corps.

If you want things to change, you can make it happen!
posted by bearette at 5:58 PM on May 20, 2010

You sound really unhappy. You sound sort of high strung and hysterical, which is why I think most people are encouraging you to live out your dreams here.

I don't want you to be unhappy. But it's very very hard to become an art history professor. I'm sure that's not lost on you.

I also would encourage you to take up yoga and meditation. Are you making friends at work? Making friends at work makes all the difference.

I would also suggest you do Peace Corps or AmeriCorps, because at least you'll make some money.

If you leave your job, can you get on your boyfriend's health insurance?

And get a physical and get your hormone levels and thyroid checked.
posted by anniecat at 6:42 PM on May 20, 2010

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