In my last post I added an excerpt from “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, if you missed it, here it is again.
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
When I first read this passage it struck me because it was like she was in my brain. I often find myself struggling to choose a path and instead find myself frozen in my indecision; not being able to choose any path and remaining immobile instead. Each choice requires me to dedicate myself to it so that I can be a success, but by dedicating myself to one occupation I am turning my back on the others. What if I choose wrong? Life should be like an ice cream parlor, you should be able to sample different choices before making a final decision. Be able to travel on one path for a while and if it isn’t what you want, hit rewind and go back and take a different path. I also have a theory that no matter what path we take we will always end up where we were meant to. It may not be a place that you had imagined but it was always the place you were headed. I think if I try and remember that it may take some of the pressure off. I find a lot of people do careers that they wouldn’t have necessarily chosen but they do it because they think they should. Once they retire that is when they start living the life they want. They travel, paint, write, whatever their passion is. I find this sad. Why should I wait until I am in my 60s or 70s to start living life they way I want? There are people out there that have made a success of themselves by following their passion so why can’t I be one of those people? I just need to figure out what my passion is, narrow it down a bit, and I will be ready to go. I feel following ones passion is easier once you have established what exactly your passion is…I’ll work on that and keep you up to date.
I just finished listening to a documentary on CBC called “The Double Grind” (unfortunately I believe you can only stream it in Canada but I am sure there are other ways to listen to it). I hope you are able to give it a listen since it is really fascinating, extremely depressing, but fascinating. The podcast interviews various baristas at Second Cup, all of whom have are university graduates.
One of the biggest challenges for the underemployed is getting out of debt. If you finish school with $40,000 in debt then work a minimum wage job how are you ever going to catch up let alone get ahead? I am extremely fortunate that my parents paid for my schooling so I don’t have any student loans. I don’t think I would be able to function if I did. I feel it would be this big dark cloud constantly overhead, overwhelming me with anxiety. Many of my friends are not so lucky and not only are having a hard time finding work but are starting off in the red.
A couple of the subjects who were interviewed were graduates of Queens University, which is basically Canada’s version of an Ivy League school. Even with a degree from a prestigious school they are in the same boat as everyone else. Why spend more money to go to a “fancy” school when in reality it doesn’t make a difference. One of the girls realized this and decided to transfer to a college so that she would be able to do a co-op program. Now a days it seems like colleges or trade schools may be the way to go. They are usually less money, less time and give you hands on experience. Seems like the most logical way to go. For some reason it was looked down on to graduate from a college instead of a university but in today’s job market it might be the only way to go if you aren’t independently wealthy.
University is a great experience to broaden your mind. You have the opportunity to take courses like philosophy, history, foreign languages etc. but if you want a job it may not be practical.
We are at a point where we need to decide if we want to gain knowledge in general or if we want an education that can actually help get a job. I wish it wasn’t a choice that has to be made but it seems like it is.
I think the best point of this program was about how we identify with how we pay the bills. In other words, what we do for a living defines who we are as a person. I am beginning to realize that this doesn’t have to be true anymore. We can’t all make money from our passions. The best we can do is get a job that allows us time to still do what we love. Try and find a job that is somewhat enjoyable and pays the bills but it doesn’t have to define you as a person. Like the one girl said, she works in a coffee shop but if someone asks she says she is an actress and a boxer. Her passions are what define her, not her pay check.
Here is the link to the podcast, hopefully you are able to take a listen!