“You’re a slave to money than you die.”-Bittersweet Symphony , The Verve Pipe
Hey man, no I'm not...am I?
I was having dinner with a friend and easily got into a music industry debate with our friendly waiter after he spotted my Dereon` bag (pop-star Beyonce’s clothing line). He said that he didn’t care for a lot of mainstream music and threw around the word “sell-out” when discussing artists he felt changed to a more commercial sound. As the conversation went on, he eventually said “but I guess anyone who has job is a sellout, so, it’s whatever I suppose.” Perplexed, my friend asked “How is that accurate? How does having a job make you a sellout?” He explained “Most people don’t work in a field they truly enjoy or are interested in. Most of us would have different jobs if we could do whatever we wanted and still pay bills.” I could understand his point and to a large extent, agreed. My friend still didn’t think it makes you a sellout if you do what it takes, including taking a job you hate, to pay bills and handle responsibilities. This same friend asked me a few weeks ago why it was so important for me to have a job I love or at least like. I figure if I’m going to spend 40 hours a week somewhere, I have to at least like what I’m doing. If I loathe my job and hate getting up every morning because I dread what I have to do, that’s not a quality life. Spending 8 hours a day watching a clock and wanting to crawl out of my skin for money is just not worth it to me. It’s going to screw with my sense of purpose. I’m going to look up and go “Is this life? Is this what it’s all about?” Needless to say, my own desire to have a job that not only offers monetary support, but personal fulfillment as well, is what partially led to me agreeing with my waiter.
“You’re a slave to money than you die.”-Bittersweet Symphony , The Verve Pipe
The more I thought about what the waiter said, the more I thought about all the different ways we “sellout” while in the workforce. The butt-kissing, the toleration of condescending remarks, the hiding of tattoos & piercings, the concealing of religious, political or cultural beliefs & sexual orientation, the revisions to Facebook profiles-and often, contrary to what your mama told you, this won’t stop the “higher” or more successful you get at your job unless you’re the CEO. What are we doing all this for? Money? Yes, you have to have a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear and transportation. If you have children, there’s an even greater need for these things, among other items, but where do we draw the line between meeting needs and selling our souls? What do you think?
Since I’ve decided to NOT be a traditional therapist, I’ve been considering other career options. It’s been a confusing and stressful time choosing a course, so when I have a concept of what I MIGHT want to pursue, it’s a real downer when all my mom can say in response is “will that pay you anything?” Granted, income offering is an important factor to be considered when seeking employment opportunities, but I would think my mother would be remotely elated that her vocationally discombobulated child finally decided on something. Instead of asking questions that would incite a conversation, like “what appeals to you about that field?” or “what’s the best way to attain that type of position?” she’s all about the pay. Lord forbid I say “I don’t know how much it pays, I have to look into it,” and a lecture ensues about how she wants me to be financially stable, as if that’s not something I desire. By that time, I’m no longer interested in sharing my excitement about my new professional plan of action.
I try to be understanding of fact that my mother wants me to learn from her mistakes and not have the same financial struggles that she has, but I would like her to be more understanding that it’s important to me to find meaningful, purposeful work that is both fulfilling and lucrative. One day, I was telling my mother how the young people I meet online via promoting J.Says seem to all be in crisis. In one week, I met a 13 year old that had a miscarriage, a 16-year old that was self-mutilating and a 14-year old with an eating disorder. I expressed my interest in taking a position at a non-profit organization for girls and told her that positively influencing young women is something I’m passionate about. What did my mom say? “Can you get paid well working at non-profit?” I was so frustrated. Not only was that statement slightly off topic (we were talking about youth), but it devalued a position I deem to be important. When my mother mentions pay off the cuff, it makes me feel like my goal isn’t good enough. Wanting to make a positive societal impact isn’t good enough unless the position pays well. Strippers make a lot of money; maybe she’d be more excited and pleased if I hit the pole.
Can I just get a burning bush, please?
New section feature where I pose my questions, grievances and thoughts about God.
After passionately pursuing a career in psychological counseling, all of the sudden I didn’t want one anymore. Well, maybe not all of the sudden. It happened gradually over the 3 years I was in graduate school. Anyhow, I haven’t quite figured out what to do next or what employment opportunities to seek. I’ve so far sought out career counseling positions (to make use of my degree without going into traditional therapy) and media opportunities (since I like writing so much, maybe I’ll try my hand at being a journalist). It’s been 4 months and I still haven’t found a job. Either the agency isn’t hiring, hired someone else, or they want someone with qualifications I don’t have. I’m frustrated and stressed to say the least. Meanwhile, my classmates who have stayed the course with counseling have found work. I suppose if I hadn’t lost my desire to be a therapist, I’d have a job. Which brings me to today’s grievance with God.
By the end of my graduate program, my instincts were telling me NOT to counsel. Every fiber of my being was against it. Even my professor and therapist suggested that it might not be a great time for me to be a therapist. I took all of these things as a sign that I needed to go in a different direction. I really feel like God steered me away from counseling for a reason. There’s some point to this drastic change in my life; I just wish I knew what the heck it was. If I’m not supposed to be a counselor right now, what am I supposed to be doing and how do I achieve it? What’s the answer? Trying to discover the answer has been rough and covered in ambiguity and uncertainty. Meanwhile, I’m unemployed. Guess I have to bus tables until something better and befitting of my college education and hard work arrives. Really not fair, God. You shifted me out of something I actually loved, borrowed $80,000 worth of educational loans to support and had a clean-cut, easy path to so I could bus tables? So I could be chronically confused about what to do next? Really? That doesn’t make sense. Maybe my life WOULDN’T be easier if I had become a therapist, and maybe all of this stress will be worth it in the long run, but right now…it is so not the business.
So, this quarter-life crisis columnist is almost 26, and a lot of people have been asking “How did 25 go? How are you now? Are you still “in crisis”? Well, 25 was as dreadful as I feared it would be, but not for the reasons I anticipated. I got my heart broken for the 1st time, and I’ve spent the last year falling in love, falling apart and trying piece my heart back together (among other personal challenges). Trying to resolve my career indecision amidst personal stressors was definitely difficult (for those of you that are unfamiliar with this section of the blog, I started graduate school in the fall of 2008 to pursue a master’s degree in psychological counseling. For several reasons, I decided that I did not want to do crisis counseling and have been confused about my next career move ever since).
Despite being emotionally and mentally out of gas, I took a little initiative to explore some career options and seek guidance. I started 2 entertainment industry-related internships and stalked the people in the career advisement office on campus. I also met with 2 of my professors and flat-out said “What can I do with this degree that doesn’t involve hardcore counseling?” My small efforts gave me a starting point and I decided that college career counseling would be an ideal pursuit (ironic, right? Who better to be a career counselor than me? Lol). Career counseling wasn’t heavy as crisis counseling and would allow me to work the demographic I preferred.
My post-graduation plans where to relocate to a city with multiple college campuses and a bustling music-industry scene (my other interests involve music business). The city I chose was conveniently the home of one of my internships and several of my close friends. I was still apprehensive about post-graduation life and how it would turn out, but I had just as much
excitement as I did anxiety. My plans started to unravel, however, the closer my graduation date approached. Moving logistics weren’t in my favor. With no pre-ceremony jobs leads and no money, I ended up having to move back in with my parents; hours away from my friends, my internship and what I felt to be a hotbed of employment opportunities. I was incredibly frustrated; yet another well-calculated plan down the toilet because life decided it wasn’t going to happen (that’s what the quarter-life crisis is all about). Bummed and feeling like a total loser for not being able to move out on my own at 25, I threw my hands up. Little Miss Control Freak, who had been gradually losing control since her 1st year of graduate school, gave up trying to analyze, plan and predict. Little Miss Gotta Have a Plan had literally no plan at all, but to move back with her parents. Now completely burned out with a hole in my heart, I told myself I wasn’t going to think. I wasn’t going to worry about anything but I was going to eat for breakfast. I needed the world to stop spinning. I needed to put life on “pause.”
2 months to the day I graduated, I finally received my diploma in the mail. I read it, showed my parents and put it in its billfold. Then I watched Beyonce’s MTV special, “Year of 4” lol. The pop-star reflected on her travels and adventures over the last year, which included riding a toboggan down the Great Wall of China. Because of her very public status and wealth, someone as young as she is having such experiences isn’t abnormal, but I was still in awe at her life. She is only 4 years older than me and has accomplished soooooo much. I began to look back on the last few years of my life, particularly the last 2 months. While on “pause,” I’ve worked on this blog, finished up a film project, started a poetry opus, applied for a career counseling job at a major university and looked into a handful of job leads, but I still feel largely unproductive, stagnant and purposeless. I don’t feel like I’m doing the most with my life or have any direction. What am I going to do when I come off of “pause” and press “play” again? I suppose I’m defeating the purpose of detoxing if I’m still thinking about what’s next. On one hand, I feel like I need this time to be on “pause.” Most people don’t have the opportunity to not work, not think or not do anything at all. This time is something I should take advantage of, but I can’t help but feel wasteful. I want to shake my feelings of doubt and uselessness and make the most of the great gift that is time. I just wish I knew what to reflect on. What exactly do I do with the time? What do I think about? There’s that control freak thing happening again…
Who would have thought that I would fall out of love with psychology. I soooooooooo did not see this coming. I didn’t anticipate this, and I’m REALLY PISSED about it. I’m pissed because I did all that career planning; I had all of the focus, ambition and direction. I considered myself “lucky” because unlike my friends, I KNEW what I wanted to do with my life. I managed to find something I was interested in that I felt I had inherent gifts for; something that could also provide a decent income. I didn’t change my major 3 million times. I didn’t hate my classes. I didn’t take me 5 or more years to finish my bachelor’s degree and graduate- I got out in 4. I did all of that just so I wouldn’t be discombobulated (confused) and possibly entering a career that I wouldn’t be happy with; and it’s happening anyway. I’m beyond discombobulated and I’m on the verge of entering a career field I feel I may be unhappy with. WTH? Is there no detour around this awkward, annoying period? I guess not. All that planning….and I ended up in the very place I didn’t want to be in. If I don’t work in psychology, I’m not sure what I’m going to do as a career. I know what my interests are; I’m just not sure how to turn them into lucrative careers.
Being in this space is so difficult for me because I’m a control freak and don’t like uncertainty. I don’t like question marks. I have to know what’s next or have some indicator of what might be next. I plan everything; I’m only mildly spontaneous. I kind of feel like I’m in a dark cave with no flashlight and I have to find my way out. I’m not used to being confused or not having a plan.
Help! I'm having a "Quarter-Life Crisis"!
What is a "Quarter-Life Crisis", you ask? Well, I'm around 25 and I'm at that stage in life where my "future" personal and career goals are beginning to come into the present...and it's freaking me out lol. Here, I'm sharing my thoughts and experiences as I go through the process of "becoming a real adult".