"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day

8.31.2006

On Work....

When I was a child, and up until I was 21 or so, I wanted to be a teacher. I clearly remember being in the 5th grade and thinking, "I really like what my teacher is doing here. I'll remember this to use in my class." When I was in elementary school, I planned on teaching elementary. But when I got into Junior High, I decided that I'd like to teach English and thus would teach High School. My Junior English teacher, Ms. Day, became my mentor because she was maybe the smartest person I had ever met, and she seemed to wholly understand the craziness of the minds in my "gifted" English class. When during my senior year of college I decided that I was not going teach anymore (a decision that may have been hastily made), I really had no idea what I wanted to do. And some days I feel like I still don't. First I was a copy editor. I enjoyed sitting there and reading all day. It gave me outlet for my anal attention to detail and my impeccable spelling skills. But it was never enough for me. Though I was stopping pieces of conservative propaganda from entering the minds of 6th graders with the swipe of my pen, I did not feel like I was doing enough. I got permission from my boss there to take a couple of hours Wednesday mornings to volunteer at AIDS Service of Austin. I enjoyed my mornings there so much that when I was blessed with temp work and an unbelievable amount of time to think, I decided to do that for a living. And now that I am doing that, I find myself many days wanting to be somewhere else, doing something else. I know that everyone at every job in the world does this.

It seems to be our motto at my work lately "When I became I social worker, this is not what I thought it would be." When I was working at the hospital, I would see the pain my patients were in, and the often apethetic attitude of their doctors, and it would make me want to be a doctor. Now I am kind of bad at math, and thus chemistry, and am pretty quickly grossed out by smells and sights. But the logic of this is overruled by the amazing potential to help people and ultimately to save lives. And now at my job, I spend my days basically taking away people's right to self-determination. Yes, the things I essentially force them to do (i.e. taking medications, going to doctor's appointments, etc.) are things that in the end will make their lives better. But when they're yelling at me, calling me a liar, and various other pieces of colorful language, I feel a bit more like I'm doing these things to satiate my supervisors and their want for a peaceful building than actually helping these people live the lives they want to live. So now I want to go back to school to get a management degree because I feel like I need to run a program, so that I might be satisfied with how it is run. Some days I want to be a lawyer, because maybe then I'll understand the things that fundamentally affect the people I'm trying to help. Other days I want to be a writer, because I miss being creative in ways that don't involve people's livelihood. I still want to be a teacher, because I love and understand the mind of the rebellious teenager. And I still kinda want to learn how to play guitar and join Courtney Love's band (I love her...I can't explain it). It is in some ways a blessing to have so many interests and the want to do so much. But really at my advanced age of 27, shouldn't I just pick something and stick to it?

7 comments:

alisa said...

no! rachel and i were talking about this the other day, and i think it's a silly idea we have to pressure ourselves into choosing just one thing. your gift is your wide range of interests--everything you do, you will continue to use in some form, and as long as you feel good about what you're doing, and paying the rent, you have every right to bounce around forever, doing good things. it will only serve to make you a better person and the world a better place.

Jennifer said...

You know, this is hard for me to say, but I think Alisa is right. It is hard to say because I am conservative (or possibly obsessive) when it comes to money and the way it is spent. It would be difficult for me to take a job I love that pays less than the job I currently have. Or it is a struggle for me when I think about going back to school because I don't want to incur thousands of dollars in student loans when I am not positive that it will help me make thousands of more dollars in the future.

But, if you/me/others are more happy doing something they enjoy and something that makes us feel like we have a purpose, isn't that more important than having a few more thousands of dollars? If fact, I might even start encouraging you to go back to school....

Little Light said...

I sort of agree with the above comments, but I think if you want to be really good at something or advance in a certain career, it might be better to pick something and focus on that - whatever it is. Everything else you can do on a secondary level like volunteering/hobbies. Otherwise you run the risk of being so-so at everything you do and going nowhere if you want to advance.

JTB said...

I've always found that the smartest people I've known have always been the least "settled" about what they want to do with life. (Myself, I never even switched majors in college.)

alisa said...

jtb's comment reminded me of this quote, spoken by the a character named Ditschmann in James Michener's "The Drifters": It's the good minds that find difficulty in committing themselves. A lesser girl would have felt obligated to plod ahead. You inspect...find a host of weaknesses...in yourself or in the subject...and you're well advised to chuck it.

sean said...

is this the Casy that used to spend time in Sag Harbor and the North Fork?

Casey said...

Sadly, no. Sorry.