20 votes

What do you want to do/be when you grow up?

"What do you want to do/be when you grow up?" is a question we've all been confronted with, willingly or not, throughout our lives. It's intercultural, except for the increasingly rare instances where it's culturally or familialy expected that you'll continue a family trade.

And then there are those of us who just can't pick the one true direction, or thought we had it right for a while, then abruptly got bored/burnt out and had to find a new career or calling. I've personally had no fewer than eight different or only tangentially related "careers", sometimes overlapping with hobbies, and I'm floundering a bit to find the next one.

I was just introduced to the "multipotentialite" concept today - see the TED Talk, Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling for details, and https://puttylike.com/ for the speaker's site and book information. As the video mentions, polymathy was once highly respected in the Renaissance, but it's been devalued in favor of increasingly narrow specializations in the industrial and information economies.

This thread is for the bewildered, the career peregrinators wandering with or without aim, who've been branded as flakes or losers, or are suffering anxiety/depression because the heavens haven't opened up and rained down purpose and meaningful work.

Tell your story to the extent you're comfortable, ask questions and seek support.

  • What is it like to discover a passion?
  • What is it like to find yourself losing that passion?
  • How did you accommodate the change?
  • What carried over successfully from prior careers?
  • Did you experience pressure to stay with just one thing?
  • Have you had disrupted relationships with family, partners, or friends as a result of these changes?
  • Do you feel that you've made unique contributions due to broad experience and/or interdisciplinary knowledge?
  • Do you feel discriminated against in the job market for lacking a clear career path?
  • Did you suffer damaging mental distress before or as a result of making a career change?
  • Is it exciting or frightening to make a change, and has it become more or less so with repeated changes?

This is also open to the people who were seemingly born knowing precisely what they wanted to do - were you successful in pursuing it, or did you have to make accommodations, perhaps discovering something else?

33 comments

  1. [12]
    skybrian
    Link
    I'm figuring out how to handle early retirement. Certainly I am grateful and it's a nice problem to have, but it means I'm asking what I should be doing with my life. I grew up with personal...

    I'm figuring out how to handle early retirement. Certainly I am grateful and it's a nice problem to have, but it means I'm asking what I should be doing with my life.

    I grew up with personal computers and didn't have any trouble choosing a major in college (computer science). While I changed jobs sometimes, I didn't really have any trouble finding interesting work for most of my career, and never doubted that I liked writing code. (Although, maybe not the specific code I was writing at the time.)

    I early-retired from Google a couple years ago. This was pretty gradual. I was unenthusiastic about my work for years, but didn't think I should make a move without a plan. I worried that I'd just "waste" a leave of absence without a plan, but then decided to just do it, and the timing worked out for dealing with Serious Family Stuff. And then decided not to go back. I had a personal programming project for a while, but it stopped being fun.

    So, finally I had to admit that I don't really like to program anymore. I took up accordion, melodica, ukulele. I'd rather do just about anything else than write code.

    While I do keep myself busy, I think I'm too young for retirement and should be doing something more important with my time to contribute to society. But choosing what to work on when you don't need a paycheck seems harder? Like before, if I wasn't too enthusiastic about a job or wasn't sure it would have much impact on the world, I could still tell myself that money is useful and work isn't always fun. A paycheck doesn't work as an excuse anymore.

    Now, it's like: how do I know this is a good company (or organization) to work for? Are they really making the world a better place and I do I really believe in the mission? Because if I don't believe in it, why do it? And I'm pretty skeptical.

    15 votes
    1. patience_limited
      Link Parent
      I'm rather in the same spot you are, though without a Google-level portfolio of competencies. I thought I was leaving my old job just because I'd come to distrust the corporate hierarchy and its...

      I'm rather in the same spot you are, though without a Google-level portfolio of competencies.

      I thought I was leaving my old job just because I'd come to distrust the corporate hierarchy and its lack of ethics, and was reaching a physically harmful level of burnout due to systematic under-resourcing.

      Yet as I flounder at what to do next professionally, I'm finding I haven't got the burning interest in technology that used to carry me through the days. Frankly, I'd reached the point of mastery in my old job that equates to boredom, and didn't have opportunities to teach or work on research projects just to ensure that I still had a basis for remaining engaged.

      There's no question that I feel too young for retirement, and I'd like to believe that I've still got the mental agility to tackle new skills with aplomb. However, the job market may not want me anymore (I've reached the magically obsolescent age of 55); I'd need the patience to gain the degrees and certifications which are common career currency now, regardless of my accumulated experience.

      As to "good company", I used to work for a good one (it's hard to doubt the moral imperative of providing children's healthcare), then a hedge fund intervened, and it was straight down the shitter from there. I'm dubious that purely capitalist entities can "make the world a better place" - that's not their mission, according to the canon of shareholder value. I can't recommend self-employment, for the most part, if you're not comfortable with the self-pimping aspects of raising business. I've relocated in part to seek a place where community-based trade and barter systems are feasible as part of a livelihood.

      I'm still chasing the latest interests of avocation - economics (particularly Doughnut and hyperlocal/small-scale, like https://centerforneweconomics.org/ and https://movementgeneration.org), architecture, cryptocurrencies, permaculture, etc. My writing is... inaccessible, to say the least.

      I should have space to get the lapidary workshop going in a couple of months, and that's good for some basic income, regardless of whether I dive back into a full-time technology or project management career.

      5 votes
    2. [9]
      Parliament
      Link Parent
      What do you find yourself reading about in your free time? How do you feel when you are outdoors, and how much time do you spend outdoors? What subject would you want to take a class on right now?...

      What do you find yourself reading about in your free time? How do you feel when you are outdoors, and how much time do you spend outdoors? What subject would you want to take a class on right now?

      Maybe some questions will encourage your thinking.

      4 votes
      1. [8]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I've been reading a lot of early American history and too much random Internet. History is often about a lot of terrible things happening which is pretty awful, and yet, sometimes I'm fascinated...

        I've been reading a lot of early American history and too much random Internet. History is often about a lot of terrible things happening which is pretty awful, and yet, sometimes I'm fascinated by decision-making that is not only terrible but self-defeating. Did you know that early Virginia colonists attacked Indians that they depended on for food? Or that Henry Hudson once sailed directly north due to a theory someone had that, if you sail north far enough, it will get warmer? So much terrible and unnecessary stuff happened back then that in some ways it reminds me of a Monty Python sketch.

        We go hiking sometimes in local parks and got back recently from a road trip to see all the big rocks in Utah, and it's pretty fun, but I don't see it turning into anything other than tourism.

        I tend to default to learning stuff on my own rather than taking classes. (I'm self-taught on accordion, though I had previous music experience.) It would be cool to find someone to jam with since I've never played in a band, but I'm not sure how to go about it.

        But again, this is all fun stuff, not, "doing something important" stuff.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Parliament
          Link Parent
          True, but I asked those questions because the fun stuff from your hobbies could yield a worthwhile pursuit professionally. Normally, there is the risk of ruining a hobby by turning it into a...

          But again, this is all fun stuff, not, "doing something important" stuff.

          True, but I asked those questions because the fun stuff from your hobbies could yield a worthwhile pursuit professionally. Normally, there is the risk of ruining a hobby by turning it into a stressful livelihood, but your survival would not be totally dependent upon it given your earlier successes.

          Now, it's like: how do I know this is a good company (or organization) to work for? Are they really making the world a better place and I do I really believe in the mission? Because if I don't believe in it, why do it? And I'm pretty skeptical.

          You seem to naturally frame your next step in the context of working for a company, one with a compelling mission. Is that simply because you come from a corporate background, or do you see your contributions having the most impact working for a company? Do you want to make an impact on the individual level or overarching societal level?

          2 votes
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            I have no particular issue with nonprofit organizations, but I explained it that way to relate it to the familiar process of finding a job in industry. I think it's quite tough to make progress...

            I have no particular issue with nonprofit organizations, but I explained it that way to relate it to the familiar process of finding a job in industry.

            I think it's quite tough to make progress without some kind of collaboration, either joining an organization or starting one.

            3 votes
        2. [5]
          sublime_aenima
          Link Parent
          Do you possibly have any resources for learning accordion? My son was gifted an accordion and has watched a few YouTube videos but gets discouraged from his hands being too small for the bass...

          Do you possibly have any resources for learning accordion? My son was gifted an accordion and has watched a few YouTube videos but gets discouraged from his hands being too small for the bass portion. I’d love to show him some resources that will help him learn this instrument. He plays the alto sax in his school band, played violin in his last school and is starting to self learn the guitar and clarinet as well (my dad plays all of these except the accordion so helps when he can).

          1 vote
          1. [4]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            Is the instrument too big to handle easily or is he having trouble handling the jumps to different bass buttons? Playing an accordion that's too big for you is not fun. There are smaller...

            Is the instrument too big to handle easily or is he having trouble handling the jumps to different bass buttons?

            Playing an accordion that's too big for you is not fun. There are smaller accordions. If there's an accordion shop near you, they might take a trade-in?

            If you want to hang onto it because it's a good accordion and he will grow into it, maybe try a melodica? Melodicas are both fun and cheap (and good accordions are not). Music learned on a melodica should be transferrable to the treble side of a piano accordion later, and then he can work on the bass.

            I'm happy to help with other accordion resources, too. What are you looking for?

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              sublime_aenima
              Link Parent
              Honestly I’m not sure. I’m atonal and arrhythmic and gave up on all instruments decades ago. He was gifted the accordion, so it might just be too big and something he’ll need to grow into. I’ve...

              Honestly I’m not sure. I’m atonal and arrhythmic and gave up on all instruments decades ago. He was gifted the accordion, so it might just be too big and something he’ll need to grow into. I’ve looked around but there aren’t any shops or lessons near us, which is why he’s relegated to YouTube. All I know is he says his hands are too small even though he’s got big hands and feet like me. I just figured it was because he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but if they are different sizes and can be too big, he’ll just have to grow into it.

              1. [2]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                There aren't standard sizes like clothes, but what were called "ladies accordions" are shorter and lighter, better for smaller people. Also, a lighter accordion can be less awkward depending on...

                There aren't standard sizes like clothes, but what were called "ladies accordions" are shorter and lighter, better for smaller people. Also, a lighter accordion can be less awkward depending on strength, and can be more fun even if you can handle a heavier one. But it doesn't sound like that's the issue? You didn't say how old he is.

                The accordion bass side is tricky because you can't see it and have to learn to feel your way around and remember the layout. Plus, sometimes you need to make jumps between distant buttons and hitting the right button when you do that means practicing the same jump a lot until you remember the distance. But, I don't see hand size making much difference unless he's doing some more advanced chords that take more than one button, and in beginning songs there aren't big jumps either; the buttons are next to each other.

                The bass strap tightness could be an issue if he's not getting his hand in far enough. Another possible problem might be picking songs that are too hard for a beginner rather than starting with easy stuff.

                There are teachers who give accordion lessons remotely, by video. That might be a possibility if there aren't any in your area and probably is the best way to figure out what's wrong. (I haven't done that though, so I don't have a recommendation.)

                The standard method books for teaching are by Palmer and Hughes. The songs are old and can be a bit corny but they do ramp up very gradually. (Also check out the 1950's art style.)

                There is also a book of bass-only tunes called Melodic Adventures in Bass-Land. It's a fun way to get more fluent with the bass buttons.

                3 votes
                1. sublime_aenima
                  Link Parent
                  Thank you for the suggestions. I’ll get him the. Oils first and we can look into video lessons probably as well.

                  Thank you for the suggestions. I’ll get him the. Oils first and we can look into video lessons probably as well.

                  1 vote
    3. DonQuixote
      Link Parent
      Sometimes it just comes down to the environment and people. Since you don't seem to need work, find a public place you that appeals to you. It can be literally anywhere, maybe somewhere you...

      Sometimes it just comes down to the environment and people. Since you don't seem to need work, find a public place you that appeals to you. It can be literally anywhere, maybe somewhere you already hang out because of the people there. Offer to help out. Every place needs help. Just don't let them know you're a programmer and it should be fine.

      There might be other things that attract you or you may not be a people person. In any case, have fun!

      2 votes
  2. Kuromantis
    Link
    Probably be a programmer and help projects like Tildes or still-in-development games like Songs of the Eons or make a game of my own. But then again I think that's what most people would say and...

    Probably be a programmer and help projects like Tildes or still-in-development games like Songs of the Eons or make a game of my own.

    But then again I think that's what most people would say and I'm not even 15 anyway.

    8 votes
  3. [2]
    ibis
    (edited )
    Link
    I related to the linked ted talk a lot - I've always had a wide range of interests in hard and soft science, and the arts, and I have yet to stick with a single job for more than 18 months. My...

    I related to the linked ted talk a lot - I've always had a wide range of interests in hard and soft science, and the arts, and I have yet to stick with a single job for more than 18 months.

    My undergraduate degree was in Environmental Science, in a specialisation that included a lot of human geography. I was passionate about it - and even though it never directly related to my career, I've never regretted my choice.

    I took a government job in land admin that included GIS (computer mapping) and spent 3 and a half years jumping between jobs within that one government department. I became kind of an expert in the extremely specialised (and in most cases obsolete) legislation/documentation/software relating to that particular branch of government. It was a comfortable job with mostly good people and the pay was easily better than what 90% of my friends were earning - but I was so so bored. There was quite a bit of pressure to stay, and I tried to stick it out and be a good adult, but I ended up just quitting to travel long term.

    I chose to travel instead of work, because I wanted to dwell over the question of 'what I wanted to be'. Like your ted talk said - I felt a lot of pressure to find my 'calling'. I felt guilty for quitting my good job, and so I wanted to take the time to think carefully about what would be my next step. In the end decided to continue with GIS but with a greater focus on the IT and data analysis side of things. When I came home I returned to uni and soon got some part-time work in the field.

    It does not surprise me that the first example in the video included cartographers - the reason I chose to continue with this field was that it allows a lot of breadth to explore a lot of topics I'm interested in. It is linked to environmental science, governance, urban planning, geology, geography, agriculture science, visual design, IT, data analysis, data visualisation, UX design, construction/BIM, etc. I hope that when I inevitably get bored, I will be able to move within the industry without having to begin again.

    I think some (particularly men in tech or engineering) do look down on my background in 'soft science'. But I don't really want to work for places with that kind of culture anyway, so I don't feel particularly upset/discriminated over it. In my limited experience I've found that there is huge demand for people who can bridge the gap between the technical and non-technical, and I am well placed to fill that gap.

    Anyway, in general I'm pretty happy with my choices and the path I have chosen. I'm extremely grateful that I chose to follow my gut and leave my previous job, and I'm glad that I've been able to find an area that will hopefully allow me to pursue multiple interests while maintaining a cohesive(ish) career trajectory.

    6 votes
    1. patience_limited
      Link Parent
      What I found was that no path was wasted. As a few examples, I used biochemistry in product liability law, product liability law in public health, public health epidemiology and statistics in...

      What I found was that no path was wasted. As a few examples, I used biochemistry in product liability law, product liability law in public health, public health epidemiology and statistics in network engineering, network engineering skills in jewelry-making, jewelry-making skills in pastry cooking, pastry cooking skills in project management. [And regardless of how hard or soft your science skills are, there will be critiques of how manly your approach is. F*ck whole piles of that - if the job is done properly, the science has precisely the hardness it needs.]

      Agreed that there is an enormous demand, whether HR departments can articulate it or not, for people who can translate understandings among disciplines, and various levels of technical knowledge. I had a weird niche job that required someone who could read contracts like a lawyer, speak in medical terminology, engineer networks, migrate applications, and handle both IT security and training, budget like a business analyst, and manage projects... it was delightfully all-consuming for a while. There is literally no single "calling" which could have encompassed the requirements, and yet, as you indicate, I magically filled the gap.

      "Gap-filler" is really the perfect description for the "multipotentialites" of the TED talk, and Emily Warrick's title for her domain is "puttylike.org" - clearly a reference to people who have the intellectual flexibility to hold or acquire knowledge for purpose, rather than purpose themselves for specific knowledge domains.

      1 vote
  4. [8]
    vivaria
    Link
    I grew up with the whole 'gifted' designation and liked math and science, so, yep, you guessed it, engineering. I'm in a research position now and... am not sure about it? I don't really like...

    I grew up with the whole 'gifted' designation and liked math and science, so, yep, you guessed it, engineering. I'm in a research position now and... am not sure about it? I don't really like being pushed to publish and seek out novel contributions. The fields my advisor has nudged me to look into over the past few months have been... dead ends? A mix of "problems that have already been solved really well" and "problems with subjective elements that make it hard to even tell if a contribution is truly a meaningful improvement."

    I keep thinking, "ooh, here's an approach that could be useful if I were applying it to create an engineering solution... but, it's not a very fertile area for novel research." That's disheartening... I like the idea of starting with a problem and designing a solution around it. I like the freedom and exploration associated with research... but only if I have a focus to begin with. I still want to make something useful and practical. Having to find a problem on a tight timeline is... not very fun?

    I've had a few panic attacks and felt depressed on and off for the past month, but from what I've gathered after talking to peers, this is typical for research. My advisor wants me to pursue a master's with her... I don't hate the idea. I think it could lead to jobs I'd enjoy. But I'd want to be sure it would be a bit more constrained than what I'm doing now.

    None of what I've described aboe really reflects who I am as a person. My hopes and dreams are very different and non-technical related. I'm a soft, squishy, feelings-oriented person. I want to build meaningful friendships and relationships, and create memorable moods and atmospheres. I want to carve out a space in life where I feel at home. I don't know if I really care that much about making novel contributions to my research field... I just want to pick a path that affords me the resources to look into my more personal desires.

    5 votes
    1. [7]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I see a lot of horror stories about insane competition to get academic positions. Is this something you worry about? Do you ever think of bailing and getting a job in industry?

      I see a lot of horror stories about insane competition to get academic positions. Is this something you worry about? Do you ever think of bailing and getting a job in industry?

      4 votes
      1. [6]
        vivaria
        Link Parent
        Oh! I'm not actually after an academic position. If I were, I'd be pursuing a master's and then a PhD. I'm only considering a master's because it would help me target specific industry positions...

        Oh! I'm not actually after an academic position. If I were, I'd be pursuing a master's and then a PhD.

        I'm only considering a master's because it would help me target specific industry positions I'm after. I've really enjoyed solving problems related to image/video processing + data analysis, so specializing in computer vision might help me secure a CV job a bit better than if I were to try with just a bachelor's.

        The novel research / publication push is more the desire of my advisor than my own. I like making things! I'm interested in taking complex ideas and applying them in interesting ways to solve problems.

        4 votes
        1. [5]
          sublime_aenima
          Link Parent
          If you can get a Masters or PhD, that will get you that foot in the door for industry much easier than just a Bachelors. I’ve done R&D for the last 15 years and it’s very rare to meet someone...

          If you can get a Masters or PhD, that will get you that foot in the door for industry much easier than just a Bachelors. I’ve done R&D for the last 15 years and it’s very rare to meet someone without at least a Masters. The more publications or items you can put in your resume to show them that you are a good critical thinker, the better your chances.

          3 votes
          1. [4]
            vivaria
            Link Parent
            My master's program would include an industrial co-op work term as well, which I hope would bridge the gap better. I do have work experience, but it's at an undergraduate level and wouldn't...

            My master's program would include an industrial co-op work term as well, which I hope would bridge the gap better. I do have work experience, but it's at an undergraduate level and wouldn't necessarily lend itself to R&D.

            I'm really curious to hear about how your path, now that you mention it! Do you have time to share your thoughts for this thread?

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              sublime_aenima
              Link Parent
              I ended up where I am in a very round about way and lucked into where I am. I dropped out of my first university and then got a job in a pizza place while going to my local junior college. Around...

              I ended up where I am in a very round about way and lucked into where I am. I dropped out of my first university and then got a job in a pizza place while going to my local junior college. Around the same time I was accepted into a very good university for engineering, I found out my girlfriend was pregnant. She was 18, I was 21. I quit my job at the pizza place and started working as an electrician. I was working 4 day a week and going to school 2 days (the university was an hour away from where we lived). I started by working as a janitor for a small start up R&D company to make extra money on nights/weekends. Every time one of the engineers was around, I would ask as many questions about their technology as I could. Eventually I talked my way into a sales position when the original salesman left and I would do side jobs as an electrician/handyman on the weekends. The sales job was mostly cold calling and I hated it, but it got me in the room with the owner and senior engineers much more often. Eventually they saw that I was not a good salesman, but I had a knack for engineering. I was pulled over to the R&D team while I was still finishing my Bachelors.

              From there, I have worked my way up through the company to a senior R&D engineer. I get to work with lasers and have built lots of interesting chambers for testing in harsh conditions. Everyday is a challenge and we use google scholar and the local university libraries constantly. I have written and won several SBIR grants for the US Navy, NASA and even some small grants for commercial companies. I would have been able to apply for a few different patents over the years, but our technology has been protected under the SBIR contracts and my boss never wanted to spend the money to file the patents. Unfortunately the company is now closing, but I have been lucky to work on some cool technology and have worked with some huge companies. I think with better business development the company and technology could have gone much further than we did, but our president always was looking to keep it as secret as possible.

              I never went back for my Masters of Science like I always planned, although I did get an MBA that my company paid for. The lack of Masters of Science has been a bit of a hinder for looking for new opportunities, although I am currently interviewing with 2 different companies that I am certain will be making me an offer. One is not what I consider a cool technology, but the location is ideal for me and my family. The other is working on satellite propulsion systems, but the location is a drawback. Both these companies are start ups with very big potential and would allow me to continue doing R&D in a change of scenery.

              4 votes
              1. [2]
                vivaria
                Link Parent
                See, this! This is what I'm interested in. I absolutely love pouring over the sea of information. Writing literature reviews, reading and understanding papers, pinning down the applicability and...

                Everyday is a challenge and we use google scholar and the local university libraries constantly. I have written and won several SBIR grants for the US Navy, NASA and even some small grants for commercial companies.

                See, this! This is what I'm interested in. I absolutely love pouring over the sea of information. Writing literature reviews, reading and understanding papers, pinning down the applicability and limitations of proposed approaches. Distilling a problem domain down to the important bits and figuring out what can be done with what's out there. I love technical writing, and making a well-structured and well-supported case for conclusions that I've drawn.

                I don't know if what I'm currently doing matches up to what you've done in industry... maybe I'm seeing similarities when there aren't any. When you say "everyday is a challenge" what challenges come to mind?

                3 votes
                1. sublime_aenima
                  Link Parent
                  The first step is correctly identifying the problem at hand. Something that most people take as trivial is often misunderstood and misinterpreted leading to the wrong solution. When a new...

                  The first step is correctly identifying the problem at hand. Something that most people take as trivial is often misunderstood and misinterpreted leading to the wrong solution. When a new challenge arises with something I’m designing, my first thought is always to try to identify specific issues I’m encountering and why.

                  The next challenge is going to be properly researching a solution. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. Has someone else encountered the same problem you’re facing? Did they find a solution that you can either reverse engineer or even better if they publish how? Often times we refer to similar phenomena by different names depending on our backgrounds so it’s often important to search for broad or related terms rather than the specific terms you are dealing with.

                  Next is to come up with a design or solution. Sometimes this is as easy as ordering something but often requires tweaks for your specific application or something new altogether. Sometimes ordering a solution is too expensive or the lead time is too long (you’re usually constrained by both time and budget), so instead you need to modify parts you find off eBay or repurposing things laying around your lab.

                  Is your design buildable? @cfabbro linked a great video that had my laughing when they mentioned how we learn how to design by either knowing how to machine or by having machinists tell us it can’t be done. I remember a dozen years or so ago having a great design in solidworks that solved all my problems but then having my machine shop laugh me out of their office, an edm shop tell me it’s impossible and then having it 3D printed in titanium alloy only to have to go back in and manually cut/file out support structures and errors to make it work. Back then 3D printing wasn’t as readily available as it is now, so we were very limited in material selection as well as who could actually do what we needed.

                  A big part of design is choosing the proper material and how much is needed. Do you use glass, plastic, metal, etc? The material properties and cost play a huge role. Is sustainability important to your company? Is it for consumers where if it breaks, no biggie they can replace it? Or is it mission critical and can destroy something that costs millions of dollars if it malfunctions or breaks?

                  Then you need to build and test that design. Inevitably it won’t work the way it was designed and now you need to troubleshoot why. Isolating variables and designing tests that rule out or prove specifics are crucial. Proper test design paramount to ensure that you are getting the results you are looking for or at least making progress in identifying why it’s not working as originally designed. Once you identify a source of error, you start again at the beginning.

                  4 votes
  5. [3]
    monarda
    Link
    I've been joking about "what I am going to be when I grow up" for a many years. I've been so many things, but nothing ever felt like I was grown up. I've owned a few businesses that did well in...

    I've been joking about "what I am going to be when I grow up" for a many years. I've been so many things, but nothing ever felt like I was grown up. I've owned a few businesses that did well in the agricultural and horticultural sectors, but I always felt like a fraud even when I succeeded, mostly because I just figured out how to do things but didn't have a deep understanding of why things worked or why things didn't work. Then I decided to grow up and get a "real" job, a job in an office. But I didn't know how to show on a resume that a lot of what I had been doing was transferable, so after a year of applications I ended up in customer service. I was super good at it, so good in fact that they wouldn't let me out of the department even when other departments wanted me. So I was like "what am I going to be when I grow up."

    I had enough money to go to school, because when you're a grown up you're educated and because you're educated you get a good job and that's what makes a grown up :)

    So I asked Tildes if anyone else had experience going to school in their 50s. My partner had been gently pushing me to look into a 2 year degree in cyber security. I've dabbled in coding for fun, and like it, and maybe I could make money at it. But after that thread, I knew I wanted nothing to do with it. More importantly, I came to realize, that I really love working with plants, I really hate offices, and I hate having to be in such close proximity to other people.

    So I enrolled in school to get a dual degree, one in horticulture with an emphasis on greenhouse/nursery production and the second in landscape design. Going to school is like finally being legitimized. So when I grow up, I want to be legitimate.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      patience_limited
      Link Parent
      I'm delighted you found a cluster of interests that fit you! As one of the commenters on the "how to get an IT job" thread, it's something I've come to hate recommending to people; I did the...

      I'm delighted you found a cluster of interests that fit you! As one of the commenters on the "how to get an IT job" thread, it's something I've come to hate recommending to people; I did the technology track mainly because it was both lucrative and interesting enough, even though it didn't really feel like a vocation.

      May I suggest, though, that you abandon the idea of "legitimacy" through degrees and certifications? What I've learned is that a certification or degree only validates that you've acquired a subset of knowledge, not necessarily entirely accurate or practical. The validation of academic certificates legitimizes others faith in your skills, but doesn't mean that you are more or less legitimate. Confidence comes from the sum of your accomplishments and problems solved in the real world, and that's far more meaningful and productive than a certificate hanging on the wall.

      3 votes
      1. monarda
        Link Parent
        Wow, thank you for replying! And you're right about legitimacy, It just makes me so sad when I get dismissed because I do not have words, and it seems like I know people who know less than me, or...

        Wow, thank you for replying!
        And you're right about legitimacy, It just makes me so sad when I get dismissed because I do not have words, and it seems like I know people who know less than me, or who haven't succeeded where I have succeeded, be taken as more of an authority because they have a degree. I WANT THE LANGUAGE A DEGREE WILL GIVE ME. When I grow up I will have words :) I like that better than being legitimate. I think wanting to be legitimate speaks to a lack of confidence in myself. I am working on that! So maybe when I grow up, I want words and self confidence.

        1 vote
  6. ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    This had been me a few months ago. Something changed recently, and I'm doing a lot more meaningful work on projects I love and enjoy, even if there isn't much to share of them as of yet. (I can...

    or are suffering anxiety/depression because the heavens haven't opened up and rained down purpose and meaningful work

    This had been me a few months ago. Something changed recently, and I'm doing a lot more meaningful work on projects I love and enjoy, even if there isn't much to share of them as of yet. (I can talk about them – the theory, the changed plans, the failed attempts, what I'd learned in the process – incessantly, but that's not what most people have in mind when talking substance.)

    Part of what drives me right now is the fear/resentment towards a normal life: a career, a family, a car, maybe a dog etc. I want to make a name, but not by shuffling papers or checking out groceries; nothing wrong with that, but it's not for me. I want to have a family, too, but not from societal pressures, and not so soon that I don't yet know how life works.

    I never wanted to focus on one thing; that seems like a waste of what I have. I'm consistently-creative, looking to develop and make better, to share and tell stories. I want to write stories, direct a film, make a comic book, write and record a song – and not in an idle, "maybe some day" way that tells you I don't really want it except as a fantasy. I want to do things with the Web, and in the real world; it's an indescribably urge to create that never ceases, only slumbers.

    And... I can't seem to make a buck off of it.

    The truth is: I only need to make $100/mo. to match the unemployment support where I live. $100/mo. affords me a decent living here – not good, but good enough to keep doing the things I do without worrying about food, water, or electricity.

    I just... don't know how to? I'm not good at marketing myself, so freelancing never went beyond working for people by chance. Looking for jobs quickly gets exhausting, especially after seeing a list of requirements that I'm not nearly qualified for, despite years of practice. Besides, working with a stranger for a project then parting ways seems as impersonal as hiring a prostitute: it's still sex, but there's a connection you need to have a good sex that's never going to be there.

    This is why I'm talking about the things I do much more often in the last couple of years. I know it can seem selfish and even douchey if I keep plastering my work everywhere – "LOOK AT ME I MAKE GOOD STUFF HIRE ME" – but this exposure is the only way to let others know of things they might find interesting. The best I can do is to keep it as un-douchey as possible, no matter how much I dislike any form of marketing.

    But then, I've also learned to be careful about following the hype it generates. A year ago some people expressed interest about a couple of worldbuilding projects I had in mind when I spoke of them over on Reddit. I got excited for generating some sort of following, and promised to work on the projects to keep the attention. The only thing it resulted in is my frustration and resentment for a world that had potential that I may never return to.

    So, now I only talk about stuff I like making: Intergrid, the online outliner, and Frontiers, an episodic story I'm preparing to write.

    3 votes
  7. Tygrak
    (edited )
    Link
    I've decided my plans quite a long time ago. I've always wanted to be a game developer. I self taught myself programming quite a while ago and pretty much loved it, so I decided quite early on to...

    I've decided my plans quite a long time ago. I've always wanted to be a game developer. I self taught myself programming quite a while ago and pretty much loved it, so I decided quite early on to study CS and work as a programmer. I am really happy how many things I taught myself because I wanted to create games, I feel like I know a bit about so much stuff. 2d art in photoshop and illustrator, 3d in blender, I learned how to play guitar to be able to make soundtracks, and of course programming. Later I decided that I most likely don't want to work as a game developer, mostly because of everything I heard about those jobs, and decided to do some boring webdev or application programming or something. Today, I am halfway to becoming a bc. in applied informatics and work as a programmer part time already. If I thought about my current position in life five years ago, I wouldn't believe that I am managing to do this stuff. In the grand scheme of things I am probably well on my way to a very well paying job in the future and all that stuff.

    Still, really strangely I don't really like where I am at. I am kind of struggling with anxiety without doing anything about it, and I kind of hate having to go to work. I don't even really need the money from work, it's nice of course, but I am mainly doing it so I have the "work experience" in future so I can have a good job one day. Also I am too anxious to quit my job. If nothing changes I wouldn't be surprised if I stayed at my current job for like two more years just because I am unable to quit, haha.

    Just thinking about having to slave away in boring jobs that make me dislike programming makes me really sad. I can't believe there are so many people around the world who worked 30, 40 or 50 years doing the same terrible jobs they hated.

    Another thing I'd love to have in the future is a relationship. I kind of lost most of my hopes of that happening though. All that stuff about not loving yourself and so on. Still, it makes me incredibly jealous just seeing happy couples holding hands every day.

    Whenever I write something like this I think about how strange it is, that everyone on this planet has their own problems, most of which would probably look really strange to other people. Life is a strange thing.

    2 votes
  8. cancycou
    Link
    I'm still not sure. All I know is that I want to earn enough to be rich as early as possible. Rich as in my passive income is greater than my expenses. Still very, very far away from my goal...

    I'm still not sure. All I know is that I want to earn enough to be rich as early as possible. Rich as in my passive income is greater than my expenses. Still very, very far away from my goal though haha

    I used to forget about getting older for much longer. Nowadays I'm reminded of it more often.
    Sometimes it's scary to think about, and I'd have to remind myself that I'm already much better off than the majority of people. I have to be grateful that I'm still healthy, have a loving family, etc.

    So I guess right now, I'm just aiming to be a good son for my mom, a good brother for my sistern, a good husband to my wife, and when/if the time comes, to be a good dad for my kid(s).

    1 vote
  9. Moonchild
    Link
    I don't know. I'm somewhat fortunate in that I have a fallback: if all else fails, I can get a dead-end job making a ridiculous amount of money at a shitty programming job, because I already know...

    I don't know.

    I'm somewhat fortunate in that I have a fallback: if all else fails, I can get a dead-end job making a ridiculous amount of money at a shitty programming job, because I already know how to do it and am good at it.

    This also gives me a certain level of flexibility: I won't have to worry about where my food comes from, so I'll have an opportunity to pause, look around, and think about what I want.

    Now, you can say the same thing about a mcdonald's job, but it's obviously not a fair comparison. The mcdonald's job may not even be that easy to get, shift hours are not consistent, and the pay is garbage. The pay is probably the most important aspect: just having money gets you opportunities. Classes, hobbies, connections, decent standard of life.

    I still recognize a certain amount of time-pressure, though. I graduate high school in june. Will probably work for a year or two after that to help pay for college. Then I get, at most, two years more before I have to choose a major. Going after another one isn't a big deal, but since it can have an influence on what kind of job I can get, I'd prefer to get it right the first time and not lose 4 years and a stupid amount of money.

    While I haven't watched that video, I do resonate with the idea of being a 'multipotentialite'. I can do quite a lot of things. I probably can't be a dancer or classical musician, since I didn't start training for those when I was 5—which I do regret slightly, but it is what it is—nor, necessarily, an art-type job—since success in those areas is so strongly dependent on luck—but aside from that my horizons are open in terms of what I'm capable of. And that's terrible. What should I do? I'm interested in pretty much every thing under the sun, at least in principle. I'm sure I would enjoy linguistics, philosophy, mathematics, computer science, psychology, what-have-you. I'm equally sure I would enjoy at least moderate success in any of those fields. There is no clear reason to choose any one over any other. But I have to. Because if I don't, then I won't end up doing any of them. I'll end up doing a shitty programming job I hate because I never chose something better to do.

    All in due time, of course, and I'm sure that it will. I just have to make it happen. And right here, that's terrifying.

    1 vote
  10. [3]
    suspended
    Link
    IMHO, this post and what it is asking is trivial. A human being gets bounced around by their parents, peers, educators, etc with the overarching optimism that these aforementioned people actually...

    IMHO, this post and what it is asking is trivial.

    A human being gets bounced around by their parents, peers, educators, etc with the overarching optimism that these aforementioned people actually know what the fuck they are talking about.

    Finally, at the age of nineteen (1989 CE), I had the balls to just walk away from all of that preconceived bullshit. Although, I did have a little help.

    That being said, what I found out was that all of these paradigms that everyone touts as the path to happiness, enlightenment, success, and so on is just regurgitated nonsense.

    Be courageous and question the answers. Question everything and make your own destiny.

    You are who you are and no one can take that away from you.

    1. envy
      Link Parent
      Figuring out your career is one of the least trivial things I can think of. That along with who you choose as a partner/spouse are the two things you control which will define your happiness. This...

      IMHO, this post and what it is asking is trivial.

      Figuring out your career is one of the least trivial things I can think of. That along with who you choose as a partner/spouse are the two things you control which will define your happiness.

      This thread is specifically meant for people who have not had any luck finding a career that makes them happy.

      How can you possibly state that this is trivial?

      13 votes
    2. vivaria
      Link Parent
      Your comment is full of platitudes that don't really address the specific, tangible issues the OP laid out in their thread.

      Your comment is full of platitudes that don't really address the specific, tangible issues the OP laid out in their thread.

      9 votes