My Life – Ramblings

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my post this seemingly random statement:

i am afraid that my “dream job” may not be what i have always thought it would be – a bit scary to think about!5:14 PM Dec 24th from web

Since I haven’t been at work for a while and I’ve been single now for a while I’ve started to think about my life. When you strip away the job and any random relationship I may find myself in at that given point in time – I don’t feel like I’m left with much.

My good friends are all thousands of miles away. We still keep in touch, but it is so much harder when you can’t hang out with them regularly.

When I first moved to the midwest I was insistent that I didn’t turn down ANY social activity. It was a fun time, went to the movies with people, to bars, to dinner, to comedy clubs, to “girl’s night” parties, to a weekend trip to St. Louis. After about 6 months though things got complicated. People thought I was dating them because I was going out with them, friends I hung out with became co-workers and suddenly we didn’t want to work and play together. As I started removing myself from situations that had the potential to be toxic for me, I realized that I had no situations left.

It isn’t a secret that friendships are hard to make as you become older (link goes to Fabulously Broke’s post on the matter). There is less to force you to bond together. But it seems even more difficult for me because (as a scientist maybe?) I have a lot of social issues. I have a horrid time at small talk. I have two modes: completely silly and ridiculous OR let’s have a very serious, in depth conversation. Which is fine for the blogging/internet world (one post fun! the next post serious).

However, this seems to leave me with very few friends in real life. Because who wants to go from joking around and having “your mom” punch lines to talking about personal finance or politics or religion? There tends to be some sort of middle ground for most people – the land where random small talk and how is your day kind of conversations exist – and well,  I am apparently functionally incapable of existing here. (I don’t even know what people would talk about here, lol, sports? pets? I don’t know!)

ANYWAY, my problems with making good friends aside, I DO have some. I have three that live in San Diego and one in Connecticut.

I was checking out jobs on Christmas Eve, because I always like to know what positions are available in my field, and I found a position in Connecticut. 12 miles from my good friend there Okturn DelMoniq.

The job isn’t at all what I thought I wanted, but at the same time, it was EXACTLY what I want.

It is an industry job (lots of money, prob starts at $80-100k). It is a research position (what I want). It requires me to be independent, but also work with a group of experts towards solving problems that I would define (and I already have 1 defined which will go over REALLY well in the interview). It would require me to still publish and go to conferences (SCORE!). It would involve me becoming intimate with other people’s research to know what they would need in the future (mental growth!). And it is a job where no two days would be the same. AND it is near one of my best friends in the entire world. Granted, he won’t be there forever. Also, it is 2 hours from New York, which means I’d get a lot of weekend explorations!

I had thought for the longest time that I wanted to be a professor. But the last year has completely shaken my confidence that it is something I want to do. It is a lot of responsibility for not a lot of pay to teach and do research. And I’m not convinced I will do well without some sort of research goal in front of me.

With this position I can get paid for a 9-5 job to do research AND still get to teach in the evenings at a community college or teach training courses for the instrument I would be working on. The best of both the research and teaching parts of being a professor.

Of course there are some downfalls. There isn’t an option of tenure, so my job could always be in danger. I’d need a larger E-fund. However, as long as I kept teaching I should be able to maintain decent skills to pay the bills if I did get fired/laid off.

Vacation time wouldn’t be as sweet. One of the nice things about being in academia is that you can take off a month and no one cares as long as things get done. I would be subject to 2-3 weeks vacation and no being able to take half days and the like. Which sucks. But you know what? If I love the job I don’t really care that much.

So I’m going to apply for the job. I don’t have as much as experience (2 years vs 5 years) as they’re asking for, but I have more than enough drive and ambition to learn to make up for it. I may not get the job, but that’s okay. And if I do – I could be leaving the midwest and my position there. And I’m VERY okay with that. I need to get two papers published here and get out the door. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to mentally last here without some sort of intervention.

All of these thoughts have also lead me to realize something that I thought I never would: I want a family.

I know, random transition from a career to a family.

But I realized I don’t want a job that consumes my life anymore. I want a job I enjoy and love, but isn’t my everything. There is no room for that mentality in the academic positions I would want – they want your soul. I want a husband some day. I want children. I want to come home to more than a dog and a couple of cats. I want to build a life and memories and experiences. There is more to life than my career – it just took me 29 years to figure that out.

I know these are all just random thoughts, but they’re pretty profound to me. What I thought I’ve always wanted – isn’t making me happy – because I don’t think I actually wanted it as much as I tried to convince myself that I did.

11 thoughts on “My Life – Ramblings

  1. Wow-it sounds like your random thoughts have come into some pretty big realizations. I found myself nodding like crazy throughout your post. I had dreams of being a prof for a long time, but the last bit of grad school made me sufficiently miserable that the thought of continuing in academia just made me ill (literally knots in my stomach). I’ve found a great clinical job where I basically work 9-5 and have time for other things-family, friends, hobbies. I love having balance. I once chastized myself for not seeking my “dream job” further away from the people who are important to me, but now I realize, like you, that there is more to life than career, and my people are so important to my happiness.

    Good luck with the job application-I’m sure things will work out. I find that once you have your “eye on the prize” (meaning you know what you want) you’re able to focus your energies to get there.

  2. SS4BC, this was a really thought-provoking post. I know I have not yet been to graduate school, but I have worked for the last 3 years at a think tank (which is the private sector equivalent of academia in my field). The researchers here work extremely hard, and they all have the pedigree and experience to be professors at top universities if they wanted to. They publish in respected journals, they go to conferences, they are asked to sit on expert panels, they mentor research assistants like me – the difference is they have lives. Many have families, all have hobbies, and that is expected here.

    The vacation situation may not be as bad in the private sector as you think – you could definitely ask about that on your interview. The first couple of years it may be 2-3 weeks, but I know folks who have been here that take some pretty sick trips sometimes for a month or more. Also, there is a kind of tenure, at least at my work. Researchers of a certain level are here to stay, the job security is excellent (even for someone at my level). I think it might be a matter of finding the right private-sector company for you, and things are not as clear cut as saying “okay assistant professor = no tenure, full professor = job security,” but I think you can find all of the positives of academia within the private sector if you look.

    Sorry for the sappy rant – I am really excited that you’re considering different options! 🙂 Good for you!

  3. I’m with you on the job thing, big time. I’m not someone who has only ever wanted to be a teacher – I’ve been interested in a lot of fields over the years, and lately I’ve been wondering if I made a mistake. There are a lot of perks to my job, but recently I’ve been thinking about going back to school. I’m just not sure for what exactly. I worked as a TA when I was in college, and I loved the teaching aspect of academia, but hated the pressure to publish, the competition, etc. So I’m not sure what I exactly want to do, but I’m not sure I can be a high school teacher forever.

    I guess what I’m saying is that there may not be such a thing as your “dream” job. All jobs have good and bad aspects, which is something that we don’t always recognize until we’re in them. Also, getting into a job doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. You can work somewhere for a while, then move on to something better. Don’t feel like you have to find the perfect fit on the first try.

    On an unrelated note, I feel the same way about friends. I’ve had a really hard time making close friends as an adult, and, like you, the good friends I do have live far away. It can get me down sometimes, so that’s why I’m working on developing some new hobbies.

    Things do have a way of working themselves out, though, so don’t worry too much 😉

  4. Nice post, I think a lot of people can relate to it. It’s a hard time deciding what to be, and who we are in life, and who we want to be with. I’m still trying to figure it all out too. It can get frustrating when friends I went to school with are landing their dream jobs, and getting married, having kids, purchasing homes etc. It will all happen for us too. It’s nice to know that other people are in the same situation as well. Same goes for the friend thing, it’s really hard to meet “good” friends and not just aquaintances. Life was so simple as a kid 😉

  5. Gotta love the identity crises and uncertainties that come with our current stage of life. For so long our lives were planned out for us, elementary, then high school, college – grad school for some – then find a job… but now what? no one ever really tells us what comes after all that. it’s up to us to figure out what happens from here on out. life most definitely is a journey.

    ps – good for you for realizing and admitting that what you thought you wanted your whole life, is no longer what you want out of life.

  6. I too want a family, and i don’t know how one of my good friends (almost halfway through med school) will manage to get married, have kids early, travel and do all the other things she wants to while managing to get qualified and start a career.

    It sounds like you know what you want, you’ve set a new direction and you’ve made a decision. go for it! It must be scary to go from having such a stable, secure job to one that’s less so, but it’s something you’ll surely adjust to – I guess most of the rest of us are used to it! That job sounds perfect – it must be rare to find something that combines everything you want, that pays well 😛 and I agree with you, if it’s a job you love, the flexibility won’t be so much of an issue.

    Oh, and I’m with you on the whole social awkwardness thing. I have trouble with that middle ground too – I tend to veer from very deep stuff to, well, shallower stuff. I don’t know how people do it! Hence, new situations with new people scare me, I don’t know how to make small talk (it’s all so repetitive – what do you do, where are you from etc). I’ll never be able to work a room, but I’d settle for being able to strike up friendships at work.

  7. Wow, great post, SS4BC. It’s okay to change direction, how are we ever supposed to know what we really want before we try it? Especially with careers, we’re supposed to make choices when we’re young and we have no idea who we are. Well, I didn’t anyway.

    Good luck with the job app. It may not end up being the dream job either, with being less flexible and there’s bound to be politics etc, but hey, really life is about getting the lifestyle you want and finding happiness, and it sounds like this could be a step towards where you want to be.

    PS. Totally understand about the social awkwardness bit. How the heck do people make friends? I’m certainly rubbish at it.

  8. Making friends as a grown up is hard.

    Work is often better in theory than in practice. From experience and observation, it’s often easier to be good friends with *former* co-workers than current ones.

    I’ve noticed a lot of people with kids start meeting friends through their kids. I always thought it was weird growing up how my mom’s friends were pretty much all parents of me or my siblings’ friends. Now I realize that’s pretty normal; if nothing else it definitely gives them something to relate to!

    We’re also at this awkward age where some people are married, some people are coupled and co-habitating, and some people are still single. Those three groups often have very different desires when it comes to socializing!

  9. So, your a scientist, too. Cool! I totally relate to the hilarious vs. serious talk. So, instead I observe people at parties and get told that I don’t talk much. LOL. But when I do talk people look at me dumb founded because I said something way above their heads. Not to say everyone there is a bumbling idiot, but just not in the same field of talk as me.

    I wish I could be like my husband who can talk to any one under the sun and relate with them. I’m getting better but don’t feel comfortable yet.

    I wish you the best with you job application. And cross my fingers that your minimal experience will be enough.

    As for friends…seriously harder to make them when you get older. I am jealous of my daughter who can talk up with anyone and they are playing together within minutes! Ta! What happened to those days. Now you have to attend hobby classes or something like that to meet someone. And you have to take the effort to say, ‘hi’. You just kindly reminded me why I don’t have any friend. LOL. 😉

  10. I had this same realization last year when my then boyfriend and I started getting serious. I realized that journalism was a job that would take over my life and not leave me much time to be with Mr. Red or my family. And that’s more important to me.

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