Ah, The Future. Such a glorious concept, full to brimming of possibilities. As we get older, those possibilities seem to shrink (for some), but for others they grow.
As you get older, the idea of changing career, especially if it’s to a career that requires 5-10 years training (like a doctor or an architect) can seem even more daunting. We’re not as reckless with time as we were in our late teens and early twenties, but it is such a burden to put on our young, immature selves… to choose the path that will possibly define our whole life.
I was (and still am, I guess) a bit anti-career (in the conventional sense). Life is short. Why spend it slaving behind a desk/forklift/counter that you hate? Many of us spend more of our time at work than leisure. Why is that? Some of my friends and acquaintances have jobs and careers that they genuinely enjoy and find fulfilling. My brother has always been fascinated by the weather, and it was his dream job to work as a meteorologist. He’s doing that. Another friend who was trained in another vocation, started volunteering at a local brewery. After doing that for a couple of years they offered him a full-time job, and his long term plan is to open his own craft brewery. He’s very happy.
Most of my friends don’t, though. The harsh reality is, that for our society to function in the manner that we are accustomed, we need people to work jobs that perhaps most of us would prefer not to do. Garbage collection needs to happen. Retail services. Sewerage disposal. Hospitality. Clothes manufacturing. The mail (wo)man.
I don’t know many kids (and I’ve met a lot of kids over the past few years) who, when they’re still young enough to have dreams, say “I want to be a garbo,” or “I want to deliver the packages you buy online,” or “I want to serve you your daily coffee. For the rest of my life,” or “I want to write user manuals that no one actually bothers to read.” <– that was me.
And that’s not to diss the people who do actually work in these industries and services. Someone needs to do it, right? Otherwise? What? We go back to hunter-gathers? (Yes, that would undoubtedly be better for the planet but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.)
I’m just thinking out loud, that most people kind of just wind up in these jobs. Do them because they need to pay rent, support their family. I know, The Lovely Boyfriend is one of these people. He is miserable in his logistics warehousing job, but he does it so he can pay his rent, buy some food and buy some nice beers. And he earns more money than I do, as a fully trained teacher with a Masters degree. But again, I’m digressing.
When you say you don’t want a normal job, you’re looked at like some kind of weird freak, a potential dole-bludger (admittedly, I always thought these people had some kind of the right idea. I didn’t want my parents to go to work every day. I wanted them to spend that time with me. I saw that my parents were always a lot more relaxed and happy during the school holidays. Why couldn’t it always be school holidays? It was only when I got a bit older that I realised we couldn’t all be dole-bludgers. Damn logistics.)
Something that I am EXTREMELY grateful for, is the potential I have right now. I have the potential to make a living through my writing, thanks to Amazon, Kobo, Apple et al. I wouldn’t have had that even ten years ago. I’d have to go through the traditional model, and for someone who finds simple job applications and interviews extremely difficult and off-putting… trying to get an agent, and a trad publishing deal felt completely impossible and insurmountable.
I gave up being an author as just a dream, like my vague dream of being an architect (I’m not very good at drawing, but I like designing houses), of being a professional singer (a. I can’t sing very well, b. I really can’t sing very well at all in front of people), of being a professional drummer (I can’t play the drums), and of being an athlete (this one slightly bugs me, because I did have the natural talent. It just wasn’t nurtured much, either by me or the people around me. If I had been a boy, I think it would have been different with my father but yeah, that’s a post for another day… I definitely had the ability to go much further than I did though, but I’m too old now.)
I don’t want “too old” to be a reason or excuse ever again. Not for me, not for my partner. He’s turning 28 in a couple of months and all he has is his high school diploma. He’s been talking about going back and getting a tertiary qualification for as long as I’ve known him (coming up six years). But the logistics of life keep getting in the way.