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the eighty-ninth key

…to a body beauty and to a soul wisdom and to an action virtue and to speech truth, but their opposites are unbefitting.

“Indecision may or may not be my problem.”
-Jimmy Buffett

New blog time. Posting personal thoughts and long texts on Tumblr kind of feels like writing a diary entry on the wall of a gas station bathroom. So here’s to a place where I can write with punctuation- although Lord knows I can’t ever make up my mind on how I like to capitalize things.

As I finish up my last 2 applications to graduate programs, I’m more easily overwhelmed than usual by the impending uncertainty of ‘future times’ and ‘growing up.’ My closest friends are entering their study abroad programs, as most third year students do at the university I’m attending. However, seeing as I’m graduating a year early, I’m going to be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on my diploma as they perfect tans and develop a worldview. Electing, as I do many times in my life, to level-up a bit before the rest of the gang.

It’s easy for me to be eager to do this, to head towards a profession that I feel truly passionate about. Of course, I’ve had a lot of different hypothetical career paths throughout my life. Highlights include:

  • Eye surgeon (when I found a National Geographic on eyeballs at age 5- my dad encouraged me with a Fischer Price Doctor Kit)
  • Professional Ice Figure Skater (idolizing Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan’s Olympic success while simultaneously paying no mind to the fact that as a child I had the physical coordination of an epileptic flounder)
  • Research scientist (a very supportive middle school bio teacher would tell me her lab stories… and if there is ever a time when being isolated and away from people sounds incredible, it’s middle school)
  • Free-lance ghost writer (an ex’s dad did a wonderful job of romanticizing his job, which is probably why he had the job- but writing coal to diamonds is a hard market)
  • NPR Journalist (fight the honorable fight with ‘objective’ journalism… back before I realized objectivity is on vacation from the real world, riding on a unicorn somewhere far far away)

Despite this array of fleeting passions, there is one profession that I’ve always seen myself doing: teaching. More specifically, being as much like my dad as possible.

Growing up with a professor as a parent is a stellar opportunity- especially if your parent is an educator in the sense that they devote themselves their field and to the possibility to touch another’s mind. ENFJ, a teacher in everything they do. And as a parent, I want to offer the things to my children that I had access to as a professorkid. I always had the coolest babysitters, given that whoever was my dad’s TA for the semester had the unwritten opportunity to make 20 bucks to chill with me while my folks went to a movie. From age 3 until now, I have had books continuously checked out from the University library on his card. I was navigating the confusing bowels of state school academic buildings as soon as I could walk, and saw campuses as a friendly place to ride my bike, not as a daunting microcosm of a city.

So, where’s the catch, right?

The longer I’ve been in academia (and although I shouldn’t, I do count high school as emotionally being academia, given the time commitment of my workload), the more I miss the other things- the everything that ends up on the backburner as I develop a lifestyle of books and JSTOR and sitting on my ass in a committed relationship with Microsoft Word. For the child who spent every lunch period in a library- it’s a dream come true to think of reading for a living. But it makes the restless parts of me compound, and professions with a ‘rush’ involved seem more alluring than ever.

Get paid to do what you love- that’s the goal. So it’s nice to fantasize about throwing caution to the wind and using my other talents- the ones that get less airtime on my CV. This is where the jobs with uniforms come in. The same way that I get to justify spending disproportionate hours behind a laptop screen, in library corners, and doing “culture studies” (read: browsing Autostraddle) for my Rhetoric degree, I wish I could justify other practices as ‘part of the job.’ A military or law enforcement job where I could spend hours at the gym and the shooting range, to invest as much into my other muscles as I do to my brain, instead of having let my agility and muscle definition fall to disrepair in order to keep on top of my coursework.

At the end of the day and at the end of the blog post, I know what I really want to do for a career, and I sleep well (mostly) knowing that I am moreso than not crafting for myself a future that I am ecstatic to live in. I suppose, for lack of a better conclusion, that the real challenge of growing up is finding a way to integrate all the different passions into your life when they stop fitting on a class schedule. In high school especially, my resume had written on it everything that I was crazy about. Queer rights? President of the GSA. Marksmanship? Lettered for rifle team. Sport? Varsity Tennis Co-Captain. Poetry? Slam Poet competitor and occasional winner. Activist? Youth leader for an incredibly successful homeless project, and a club that raised enough funding to build a school kitchen in Ecuador. The list goes on. Life after high school blurs this idea, but university isn’t too different. Less club involvement is balanced by more intense majors, less extra-curriculars by more intensive job opportunities; the impulse to perform for paper doesn’t leave, as graduation requirements breathe down a sweaty collegiate neck.

I don’t quite know how yet, but I need a way to fit things in that I love even if they won’t ever show up on an application. It takes small steps, and it’s terribly challenging, but it’s a good goal to take on in the spirit of new horizons. I’m in my last riff of undergrad, finished with my thesis and [nearly] finished with my grad applications, just starting out a “new year” after hitting my 21st birthday ten days ago, and about to enter a new calendar year. Seems as good of a time as any to find a way to balance the justified fun of nerding out and the personal indulgences of pointless hobbies.

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