When I first graduated college, I wrote a blog called the Quarter-life Crisis. Basically, it was all about the insecurities and fears of recent-grads who are afraid of becoming a godless and gutless corporate zombie just like everyone else.
In writing it, I thought I was acknowledging that I wouldn’t allow myself to fall victim to the corporate monster or choose a career path that placed me in a luke warm 9-5 just to earn a living.
Well here I am, more than a year later, with mounting fears strapped to my back that I might spend the rest of my life in an office.
It’s kind of like a prison sentence. The only difference is, I can leave if I want, but I have to be pretty damn sure of where I’m going in order to take that leap of faith.
The reason this has all come up lately is because I’m studying for my MBA and really have no idea about what I intend to use it for. In addition, thanks to the state of Florida’s ineptitude and lack of foresight, the State University system is irreparably screwed – and that means hundreds of jobs could be on the chopping block – mine included – as more and more budget cuts are made to salvage the education being provided to students in state universities.
I wouldn’t say it’s imminent, but it’s also not a bet that I’d take if I were looking for a sure thing.
So where does that put me? Back to square one: evaluating my passions.
I thought hard about it for the first time on my drive to work this morning, even though it’s been gnawing at me for a few weeks now. I know what my passions are: writing and speaking to large groups of people. I’m just unsure, maybe scared, to take a leap of faith and see what opportunities exist for me.
Maybe that’s my own fault, for letting fear paralyze my ambition. Or maybe it’s all of the ‘formal education’ that I got/am getting, that seems to convince you that the higher your degree, the bigger your office and the bigger your check. It sounds appetizing, especially for a kid like me who starved through four years of college just to finally be rewarded with a job that paid more than $12/hour.
The part they don’t tell you is that you can only get that paycheck in exchange for an extremely under-valued part of your soul: the part that understands the value of hard work but not the value of keeping your identity.
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic. But think about it for a second. How many of you would use the same words to describe your personal qualities as you do when you describe your job? Probably very few of you have a job that allows you to say both. And that’s where companies scoop you up.
At a moment when you’re stacked with debt and financially vulnerable, yet at your highest earning potential thus far, companies swoop in and offer you all of the things you didn’t have as a poor, starving college student: a good salary, health insurance and the promise of more to come.
Hell, that sounded great to me. That’s why I took my first job and that’s why I left it 6 months later for an even better one. I haven’t bought Ramen Noodles in almost two years now. But for me, personally, taking a job was the easy, safe way out.
The harder choice, the road less traveled, would be for me to believe that my writing could actually take me somewhere. That enough people would be interested to hear what I have to say and would actually buy a book full of my verbal diahrea.
That’s what I want to do.
And as I look back to when I created this site in the first place, I now understand clearly that it’s not just something to do. It’s something I love. So somehow, some way, I’ve got to find the path that will lead me there.