when i grow up (or, discouragement)

Teaching in Taiwan

Teaching in Taiwan

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? I mean, really?

I don’t.

I’m thirty years old, and I don’t have a clue. I used to joke that I wished I could get paid to write and read and exercise. Now I wish the same, only I’d add “travel” and “work with kids” to the mix. And you know what kills me? I can do all of these things, and I likely could get paid for them, except . . . Except I don’t have the degree.

Every job description I’ve looked at lately (I’m looking for a new job) requires a CDE or an EDE or a TESL or a PhD or an M.A. or . . .

All I have is a B.A. in English.

And I know from experience that the best way to learn teaching is by teaching (not to mention by caring) . . .

The results of Friday's surgery -- no riding or running for six weeks!

The results of Friday’s surgery — no riding or running for six weeks!

But no one cares about that . . . No one cares at all . . .

No one cares that I’m a talented, passionate, caring individual who just didn’t know at 23 that I would need those degrees. No one cares that I have bills to pay and thus now have no way to obtain those degrees. No one . . .

And so I’m discouraged. Bandaged and discouraged. I know that things turn out in unexpected ways, but, at the moment . . . In the meantime . . . Perhaps I’ll be at your next take-out window. “Ketchup with your fries, mam/sir?”

..

36 thoughts

    • Thank you. So far there has been nothing gentle about this injury, but thank you for your kindness. And yes, growing up is not an option. One must dismiss discouragement and find joy in opportunity!

  1. Times of discouragement are times when you’re head is resetting; they’re the other person’s go in a game of chess. Right now, you’re recovering from surgery, so you couldn’t do any of those things right now anyway. And you’re going to be right where you’re supposed to be when the next phase of your life comes knocking.

      • Well hopefully it was a thought not too fraught with malice and ill will! :) And were you too stubborn to let your guy do that for you?

      • Malice and ill-will? Hardly!! I simply remembered that we had talked about that sort of thing before. I know how you are about cars… And too stubborn to let Jon help me? Well… I am too stubborn to let him do a lot of things for me, but in this instance he wouldn’t have offered if I’d asked. Jon is very practical about cars and doesn’t baby them like I like to baby mine. To him, even drying a car is a waste of time. He used to build cars, in fact, for the sole purpose of driving the hell out of and destroying them with his friends in the woods.

  2. I understand you perfectly, I’m in a similar situation.
    You are angry (I think) and that’s right, that means you have force to do something. You need to get contacts besides degrees so build a network.
    If you truly love your dream so you have to work at least one year or two doing something that you dislike to get money and time to get that degree, perhaps get an educational loan.
    I hope everything goes better to you.

  3. Hi Jess, have you considered social work? Although that might have changed as well and there’s a line of PhDs willing and waiting. You may have to think outside the box and create your own business with a fresh angle. Channel your downtime into creative brainstorming session. Best wishes!
    And sorry to hear of your broken collar bone, ouch. Did you get a titanium plate and screws put in? Pro riders are back on the bike in a month, so hopefully you will be too. Take care and enjoy the rest of your summer. ☼

    • I don’t know how I can go back to school right now. I have too much debt as it is… And yeah, my shoulder isn’t too happy right now. :/ Ah, well. Life.

  4. If you think you need those degrees to write, it’s never too late to begin, certainly not in your case. Unfortunately, the ‘professional world’ is bristling with hypocrisy. Here is wishing you the best!

  5. The beauty of life is that it’s rarely too late. You may not be able to afford school now, but that’s not to say things won’t change a year from now or even ten. My mom went back to school in here fifties. So just because you put your dreams on the shelf today, doesn’t mean that you can’t take them down tomorrow, dust them off, and realize them.

  6. It’s hard not to be discouraged at 30. A part of you thinks that you should have things figured out by now, that you should be doing the things you want to do. Shortly after I was 30, I stepped out of a career, followed my dream and failed at that business. I restarted my career where I left off. I’m glad that I did all of that, but I wish I could have realized that there were other ways to follow that dream. I wish I had remembered the advice of an early boss when he told me “your job is what you do to finance your life, don’t let it become your life.” You can write, you can travel, albeit maybe not as much as you would like and you can work with kids. Maybe you can’t get paid, today, to do those things but you can do them and at some point, your experience may get you in a door where a degree would be required. I hope you recover quickly and completely from your surgery and I hope you can think your way out of your discouragement (if that’s a word). Best.

  7. I would say something deep and profound, if I thought it would help. But people have, under these circumstances, been saying “deep and profound” things to me for years now, and it just seems to make things worse. So, I will say: It really does suck. I have been there. And I get it.

  8. I used to joke that I wanted to retire by the age of 30. Well, I turn 50 next month and I’m still working. To me, retirement has never meant the end of work, it just means the end of working for somebody else. Yes, doing something like writing, or traveling and writing about traveling, or working at the thing that you most enjoy. Like teaching. For me, it might be something as simple as working in a pizzeria, or a bookstore. It’s a shame we can’t figure out ways to make a living doing what we love.

    I still don’t know how to answer the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Why? Because I just want to be me, but just being me doesn’t actually pay in our society. :(

    Heal fast!

  9. I can really relate to your feeling of discouragement! I also only have a B.A., but in psychology…my major was English, but I changed it the last semester of my senior year thinking that might help me get a handle on the existential crisis I was having :P

    Your writing is too beautiful and full of awesomeness not to be appreciated and sought after! Sending you positive thoughts of finding something you love, soon!!

    • You are so so sweet. It is nice to know others can relate, although I hate to think of others struggling the same! The workplace is just frustrating because, unless you pursue an area in medicine (psychology aside) there are no guarantees. Even a master’s or doctorate degree doesn’t guarantee a job!!

      Thank you for your encouragement. I am so glad to have found your friendship in this blogosphere!

  10. everyone else has said everything that can be said, so I’ll just say

    “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

    which is a grand platitude for moments such as these. (I got that from a restroom wall on my way to Ohio so it must be true).
    :)

  11. Keep your head up Jess, I wish there was some magical phrase that would show the light at the end of the tunnel, but that will only come from you. One thing I realized in my 30s was that the world is full of ‘talented, passionate, caring individuals’ and most feel under-utilized in some manner…it is health, family and simply working hard (all 3 which you excel have an abundance of ~ even with a broken clavicle) and from these three comes happiness. Forget expectations, but instead just keep up the pursuit… I guess it is the pursuit that matter most to me. Wish you well ~ wish you happiness :-)

    • You are very, very right, Randy. The pursuit of our passions and (I’ll throw in) love for others is what truly makes us happy. Health is a big part of that, too, of course… The saddest thing in life is when someone forgets their passion. When life loses meaning, and we can’t see a reason to get out of bed in the morning… That is the saddest thing of all. Thank you for the encouragement. You know I will never give up.

  12. Don’t grow up yet! Your soul is gentle and kind and it shines through your writing. I hope you can find something that makes your soul continue to shine!

  13. we never grow up. this is the magic of life. ask a healthy 60+ year old how old they feel. u will be amazed. (even more, ask them if they want to go back!)
    +btw, best to avoid the degree rat-race, its a dead end, like whos got the biggest house or the coolest car.
    sell yourself beyond titles ;)
    take care!

  14. Ah yes. The great English degree. I have the same wonderful degree that makes one adaptable to everything yet qualified for very little. I’m currently looking for work and I have to convince those HR people that I can do the work. It’s a communications degree! It’s an administrative degree! It’s a writing degree! But I wouldn’t trade it in for the world because it has made me who I am. Keep up the great works and stay safe.

  15. Hi Jess, Sorry I’ve been out of pocket for a while. Had to go to Albuquerque for another round of surgery on my heart. and am still recuperating. Depression is a tough ‘friend’ to have hang around, right? I’m so sorry that it is trying to take over your life. Hang in there. I know you can beat it.

    We are still in a ‘down’ economy and who knows how long it will last. Is there a way you could use this time at home to prepare for a change of direction? My oldest daughter got her BS degree living in Alabama with three kids to support and take care of. She came here to stay with me when I began to need some help at home and to get around, and decided to go on to get her Master’s while she has this opportunity. Since she has no income, the government is footing the bill, which she doesn’t like, but it’s there and seems would be foolish to ignore it. Of course, the money and a place to stay were her two big situations to work around and it is (so far) looking as if it were a good decision. In the meantime she is getting a rest from worrying about what she is going to do, and has picked up several jobs of cleaning houses for immediate cash.

    Also dear Jessy, let me make another suggestion. Because I’ve been through this and it works to an amazing degree. It doesn’t solve the situation itself, except in the way you look at it, but that is a huge beginning. I am even doing this myself in recuperating this time and it makes me feel so much better. Be positive. Each time you almost say something negative, change it to a positive statement (for me, it always regards my health). When someone says how are you feeling now? Instead of telling them I thank them for asking and say something like I’m doing so much better now. Of course there are some who won’t let you get by with that, but somehow you’ll feel better for trying.

    I’ve come to love you and admire what you have done with your life so far. So I’m hoping you will know I’m being a concerned ‘mom’. I’ll be anxious to hear from you. Please take care and cut yourself some slack. Sometimes it is the best thing you can do. Love, Marie

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