Lately I've been spending a lot of time thinking "What the F*%@ am I going to do with my life?"
One of those perennial, inevitable, and existential crises that face most soon-to-be graduates who have some degree of peter pan syndrome.
Granted, had I been thinking about this in high school (at that time there was no question - i was going to be an actor!) my options would be much greater.
So I've been focusing on what my life has taught me, what my education has shown me, and where these things can propel me.
Theater. Psychology. Sociology. Politics. These are the things that interest me. What is, logically, a profession in which the confluence of these interests provides the greatest economic benefit for myself in light of an economy that is increasingly outsourced, sub-contracted, and downsized ... where the lines between economic and political power are illusory and wealth is increasingly being shifted from the lower strata of society to the upper echelons of elite bureaucratic and financial culture?
I would be happy being an educator at a university of some kind. That would provide me the opportunity to never quite grow up and spend my life pontificating about the world and attempting to inspire others who are young (and still idealistic/optimistic) to save the planet and our civilization. But then I would face the plight of most educators now - unreasonably low wages, furloughs, job insecurity, and pressure to focus on issues of economic benefit for a university's corporate partners. For a long time this has kind of been my general plan, though not much actual thought was put into it. I've recently decided that perhaps this wouldn't be the most effective/efficient use of my time.
Perhaps i could attempt to spend a lifetime building a career as an international aid worker. I've thought long and hard about this, and only 4 months ago I was convinced that this was precisely what I wanted to do. Join the Peace Corps. Build a resume. Learn other languages and cultures. Get shot and maybe killed trying to bring anti-retroviral drugs to AIDS sufferers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Teach people in Bangladesh how to use the internet to start a business. Certainly I'd make a difference, but what are the costs? I certainly couldn't start a family (although I'm beginning to wonder if that's even an option that will ever be presented to me in my lifetime), and if I tried to I'd be gone all the time - not the kind of father I'd like to be. Eventually I might get a nice kushy bureaucratic desk job at an NGO and quickly become disillusioned, desensitized, etc. I'm not sure I'd enjoy that.
There are many other options that might make me happy, but most certainly would guarantee poverty and are thus likely to prove quixotic at best. I could try to be a professional leather craftsman, or a jeweler. I could try to return to the theater. I could attempt to be a professional fire dancer. A musician. A recording engineer. A live show sound professional. An animator. A writer. A journalist. All these are potentialities that could be explored, but all entail a large amount of risk. I don't want to put myself in a position where I'm 30 years old and am still working entry-level jobs.
What, therefore, is perhaps the best career path for someone with my abilities, interests, and sensibilities? What is possible given my academic record and personal story? What will enable me to make a difference, should I choose to, or make grips of money if I decide to sell out? What would provide me with the most options?
Lately I can only think of one answer to all these questions.