Reply To: Careers

Spaceboy 99

Hey again,

Yep! This is the absolute most terrifying question in the world. And I’m very much in the same boat as you- I don’t want to be wildly successful, I just want to have ENOUGH for my needs and wants. Same as you, I don’t really have a passion. All I want out of life is wife, kids, house, car, and enough. That, to me, is the definition of a well-lived life. If you have those things, and your happiness, you’re winning. The problem, though, is that window cleaning and hosting at restaurants are high-volatility careers. They’re among the easiest jobs to lose. I’ve bounced from shit job to shit job in the past, which were enough to pay the bills, enough to keep me going, and honestly, that’s more stressful than trying to decide a ‘passion’. So my advice to you is- screw trying to find the perfect job. Because for people like us, it doesn’t exist. It will change every couple of months, based on what movies you’ve seen, books you’ve read, and who you’re hanging out with.

I can’t recommend university enough, particularly if you have a scholarship. While, yes, the classes are problematic, university basically works as a ‘dry run’ for adulting. You can learn the life skills you need to be independent in an environment where you’re relatively protected, compared to going straight out into the workforce. My original plan at university was to do Maths and Philosophy as a Joint Honours (kind of like a double major), then do my teaching qualification, and be a maths teacher. The maths was for the career, the Philosophy was to keep me sane. I wound up dropping maths, and did a degree in pure Philosophy. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made. Lots of people rubbish ‘generic degrees’, but a decent ‘generic’ course at a good school sets you up with a BUNCH of transferable skills, which is excellent for volatile workers like us. Despite having no specific career direction, I’ve been able to thrive as a security guard, glasses maker, local government customer service assistant, and now, most recently, as a researcher for a large international company (where my research is directly underpinning a massive real estate development project- the founder of the company is in the office next door), despite having ZERO training or background in any of these things when I started. The lack of precise direction works wonderfully, because you’re never forced to remain in one career because you already have so much invested in it.

Like Kendall says, you CAN get a decent job with no college education- it’s definitely possible. But it’s harder. Even just GOING to a good university opens a lot of doors for you that would otherwise remain closed. I went to a university in Oxford (not the famous university, another one in the same city), but as soon as I mention that, people automatically look at me differently, even after I correct them and tell them where I actually went, they’re still impressed. Having that connection with an employer, or someone involved in hiring and firing is immensely beneficial.

What I would honestly recommend, to anybody and everybody, is if you have the opportunity to go to university, do so. Don’t try to reach the stars. Take a course that interests you with a difficulty level you know you can/should be able to handle, and aim for a job that you find tolerable. You’ve already listed waitressing and window cleaning as two things you’d happily do if you you could make enough from it. Are there higher-tier versions of these careers you could go for? Or are there specific places you could work in these industries that would offer you some kind of upwards progression? Find such a tolerable job with opportunities, then work towards that. If, later in your life, you find that there’s something totally PERFECT that you want to dedicate your entire existence to, you’re in a better position to go after it having a job that doesn’t involve just scraping by. If by 30 you’re managing a team of 15 window cleaners, but decide you want to go into journalism (and can prove that you can write decently), the experience running a team (and the people skills you gain from that) puts you in a better position than someone fresh out of university, even if they have some rudimentary experience in the field. Even if what you WANT to go into is so far removed from what you’ve been doing that the experience is irrelevant, aiming for higher level positions (and salaries) puts you in a better position to be unemployed for a while while searching for the new position, or trying to learn how to do the new job.

If you ‘used to be smart’ before your issues with meds, you’re still smart- you’ve just got an issue at the moment. Is there any way to rectify the current issue you’re having? Did the pharmacy switch you from a brand medication to a generic? Has your doctor trialled you on a different medication, and assumes you’re doing better on it than you really are? Would you, in fact, be better off NOT taking your meds (please be aware, I don’t advocate this solution if the meds help even a little) because of the problems you’re having? Even if the problems CAN’T go away, you’re still smart. You just need to find a method by which you can harness it. I wrote every single essay for my degree the night before it was due in- any earlier and I couldn’t focus worth a damn. I don’t recommend this, either, I’m just saying that for every problem there is a solution.

I’ve rambled a little, but the core of my advice is this: Now, while you’re young, and while you can, try to put yourself in the best position going forward. It’s long-term easier to take a long shot and struggle now than it is to do so later in life. Even a generic, non-career-specific degree in a subject you pick only because you enjoy studying it is better than no degree. And that way, you get to have a blast for three years, before, if you choose, going into the same job you could have gone into straight out of high school, but no longer being FORCED to do so. At that point, it becomes an active CHOICE, so it’s a lot harder to regret.

I hope this helps, even a little 🙂