Thursday, January 31, 2008

Batman Pajamas and Cinnamon Buns: My Mid-Twenties Crisis (originally posted February 8, 2006)

I'm 24 years old, and for the past year, I've been enduring the beginnings of a life crisis. I've been trying to answer the important questions of "What do I want to do with my life?" and "How do I not fuck up and have to move back in with my parents?, and these questions have been resting at the forefront of my brain. I'm 24 going on 25, and the only thing I've learned is that I still have no clue what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm still at square one.

I know people, who at the age of 5 years old, knew what they wanted to be, and those bastards actually followed through. They wanted to be doctors, nurses, lawyers, cowboys, etc. Now, those same people are in law or medical school. In my defense, none of those boys turned out to be cowboys, although a few came out of the closet in college. I can honestly say that I don't know a single person who owns a ten gallon hat, rides a horse on a regular basis, nor has "wrangle some cattle" sandwiched in between "take out the trash" and "go to the grocery store" on their to-do list.

I remember in kindergarden, teachers got together and decided that a "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Day was in order. Nothing is more fun than pigeon holing four and five year olds, so on the big day, the parade of nurses, doctors, lawyers, firefighters, and policeman filed into Harvest Hills Elementary. I went as a nurse, only because my mother made it very clear that my Batman pajamas with the velcro cape were not an option on that day. Oddly enough, a classmate went as a princess, and twenty years later, she is my best friend, we are both living in New York, and both of us have no clue what direction we are heading in.

At some point growing up, I decided that I wanted to be a journalist. I had excelled in writing at school, so it seemed like a natural fit. By the time I reached college, my definition of journalism had broadened to include strategic communications, which is simply an umbrella term for public relations, advertising, marketing, and every other unholy form of communication. I had started out as claiming "undecided" when asked what my major was, but by the middle of my freshman year, I chose journalism. Looking back, it was not the smartest of all decisions, considering that I hated the two journalism classes I had taken, and I disliked all but two people within the entire journalism school. But for whatever reason, and I'll blame it on parents who told me that I had to get a job after college, I stuck with it. By my junior year, I had added English as a second major. I loved my professors and lecturers, my fellow class mates, and overall, the curriculum. It must have been around the same time that the idea of teaching entered my train of though, but somewhere down the line it was pushed to the back of my brain. I graduated in May of 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, and Bachelor of Arts in English. It would have been more appropriate if I had simply stuck with "undecided" and recieved a Bachelor of Science in What the Fuck Do I Do Now? I pondered the idea of graduate school for a bit, but at the time, the idea of three more years of school sounded about as pleasing as writing a thesis while having an enema performed.

After traveling abroad to be with a foreign boyfriend, my adventures landed me in New York. I got my first job at a new restaurant in the Lower East Side, right up the street from my apartment. It wasn't the dream job I had been looking for, but it paid well, and I didn't have to deal with authority figures. I worked the day shifts mostly, and the staff consisted only of me and a line cook, who was also an "artist." We bitched about not having any money, smoked cigarettes, and drank coffee for eight hours, then left when the managers and night crew arrived.

A few months later, I landed my first "big" job, the job I had gone to college to get, or so said my parents. I was hired at a public relations firm to work in their technology practice. In all honesty, I know nothing about technology. It took me two hours to hook up a VCR, and two days to hook up a DVD player. I consider myself part of the technological elite because I own an iPod. But I put on my biggest smile and said exactly what they wanted to hear, and they offered me the position on the spot. The only thing I learned in my short five months there was that I was bad at pitching story ideas to reporters, I had no sort of memory about when certain articles ran and who wrote them, and that overall, I was about at good at public relations as I am performing heart surgery. So what did I do? I made the decision to move to another public relations agency to work in their technology practice. I blame this astute career move on desperation and retardation , but I encountered the same problems, and found myself back in the same position.

I remember in college a professor telling the class that public relations is the fastest growing industry in the job market today, and after working in this industry, I believe he was right. Most people are smart enough to leave public relations early in their career. I haven't met one person who particularly likes public relations, and even fewer who actually love it. People who stick with a career in P.R. are the same people who while in the junior high cafeteria line would ask for spaghetti, but would get tuna casserole instead. And they would take that tuna cassserole, grab their plan milk, and eat the damn tuna casserole without saying a word. These are the people who have taken the hand that was dealt them and never challenged it. When I was in that same junior high cafeteria line, I would look that hair netted food monger from the other side of the sneeze guard and tell her what I wanted. She would have been tempting death had she even tried to give me that tuna casserole. I asked for spaghetti and I got spaghetti. And a cinnamon role. And both chocolate and plain milk. Maybe my choices were random, but I knew what I wanted, and I made sure I got it.

So after four to five unsatisfied and angry bosses, one year of complete unfulfillment, and enough tenacity and naivetivity to fill an eye dropper, I have decided to make a career change. I've started studying for the GRE, and I'm applying to positions at universities and other student advising/teaching jobs. I guess whether I realized it or not, I've known I'm not the type to settle, and I'm not the type to take conventional Corporate America and succumb to its business casual ways. I knew this when I wanted to wear my Batman pajamas with accompanying velcro cape on career day. I knew this when I ordered both spaghetti and cinnamon rolls. And after having experience in the corporate world, I have factual evidence that I'm not made to wear slacks, sweaters, and heeled shoes every day. So I'm busting out of this cubicle infestation, and there is nothing you can do about it. See you on the other side, with that other side being academia. I'll wave to you as I plan my lesson plan for the class "Mary Shelly and her Inspirations" during my summers off. Farewell. Don't call me, I'll call you. It's not you, it's me. And so forth.

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