I’ve recently started a job-search. For those of you who don’t know, I decided to leave my PhD program next year (maybe never to return!) and get a good old-fashioned regular man job back in my hometown. I’ve been search, search, searchin the internet and in my hunt I’ve come to two realizations: 1. I don’t want any of these jobs, and 2. No one wants me for any of these jobs.
I’m confused. I’ve asked myself: Lauren, why did you spend 8 years in university getting 3 degrees without making sure you knew where you wanted to end up? Also: Why, Lauren, didn’t you ask someone BEFORE NOW whether anyone would give a flying fuck about the 3 degrees? Finally: What is the point of LIFE? (That last one snuck in behind the two more pertinent questions, but I thought I’d include it to give a sense of the tone of my thoughts.)
I've been pretty reg insofar as my career is concerned, and I've tended to make decisions rather cautiously. When faced with two courses of action – say, school vs. no school – I always chose the option that seemed harder. My logic was that if I picked the more difficult thing, if I invested, when it came time to score a job, I’d be ahead of the pack. I’d have my pick of the litter. Now, here I am, 28 years old, never really worked a day in my life, educated like nobody’s business but not particularly employable. I’m behind the pack. They’ve all got 3-5 years experience in communications, or operation, or risk-management. I don’t even know what those things are. I’ve over-invested in education.
The upsetting thing is that if I'd known all this, I would have spent the past decade being an artist like every other out-of-work 20-something bum in the world. It sucks to be an out-of-work 20 something; it’s worse to be an out-of-work 20 something because YOU’VE SPENT TOO MUCH TIME GETTING DEGREES. Why didn’t I spend the time trying to be an actor or writer, or whatever the hell you ‘free-spirits’ have been doing all this time? I suspect that you’ve been having fun, building relationships with friends in a city where you are happy to live. I’ve spent the past 5 years drifting away from everyone I care about in some godforsaken
wasteland, only to find out now that I look just the same on paper as every other fuck up lounging in trinity bellwoods park. USA
I had a conversation about this with my boyfriend the other day (he’s a musician AND an actor, and has zero degrees). I was saying that I couldn’t understand his approach to life: How can you go along with so little security? No guarantee for your future earnings or employability? Your BABIES’ COLLEGE FUND? He responded by reminding me that even if I get some sweet job, I’ll have no security either. Anything could happen! I could never get a job! I could be fired! I could get hit by a bus! I nodded, but didn’t really believe him until later, when I re-watched the movie Office Space. Remember the Bobs? They are MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS (caps locks for intimidation) and they come to Initech to fire everyone in the name of efficiency. First off, one of the main jobs I’ve been applying for is MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT and when I saw the Bobs, I had a panic and had to cross yet another career path of my list. (OMG I cannot be a Bob!)
The second panic set in when the Bobs started their work at Initech, firing willy-nilly, crushing dreams left and right. I realized then that my boyfriend was completely right! Assuming I do get some 'secure' job, it's possible that I could be fired AT ANY MOMENT. My degrees offer me no security whatsoever! All they give me is qualifications to work in a field I’m not particularly interested in.
This entire spazz may be due to the fact that I’ve recently developed a fantasy of becoming a novelist and totally regret all the years I’ve wasted not working on my new novella, Louis and Lyon Montcalme. That said, here's a fact: I believed everyone when they told me, "Stay in school!" I was scared of things turning out badly and I thought, I’ve figured it out! I’ll do what they say and then I’ll be fine! Look, no one else is doing it! They’re all going to be fucked and I’ll be just fine! Now I see that I made a mistake. I did what they said, got the degrees, and I’m still scared. The qualifications I’ve gotten afford me very little security, because really, you can’t secure much of anything in this life.
I thought the formula looked like this: stay in school = you’ll be fine. What it really says is: stay in school = you’ll be able to get the job you want because for most jobs, you have to stay in school = you’ll be fine. I forgot to check to see what job I wanted. Turns out I want to be a gardener or a novelist and host dinner parties, end of story. Oops.
Sorry this is a bit all over the place, but now that I’m going to be a novelist I have to save all my careful writing for Louis and Lyon.