Sunday, August 21, 2005

didn't know I had a twin brother... to speak. Met a guy this weekend who could very well have been me (well, the male version), had I made different choices. He's a philosophy and history major (or something like that), with a PhD and some conservation training, and has been working as an adjunct professor and curator for the last 15 yrs. I think he's about my age. From what I gather, it hasn't been easy -- no tenure track positions, etc. He rents, rather than owns, his house, and it's a bit ramshackle (he says the gardens are beautiful; you do what you can with what you have control over...) Married, with a kid who I guess is about eight (I'm bad at guessing kids' ages). Personality-wise, we have a lot in common, I think. He's more of a pacifist than I can bring myself to be (I've investigated the Quakers, but the nearest meeting is too far to go, and I'm not quite sure I could really be as nonviolent as the Quakers are). He seems to be getting into sewing/tailoring (made all of his family's clothes). In short, we seem to have a lot in common, in terms of interests and skills, and it was a pleasure meeting him and potentially gaining some new friends.

Anyway. I've been thinking a lot lately about whether I've made the right decisions in life, including the decision not to go to grad school to be a historian or theologian. I seriously considered that track, but never quite got around to applying anywhere.

I've had various reasons for deciding not to (or refusing to take the steps necessary to do it, that is), including the fear of being a highly-educated bag lady. I don't want to be like my dad, who has a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Princeton and a law degree, but who was fired from his job due to a disagreement with his boss the year I graduated from college and hasn't really held a job since then -- thank goodness for his Navy pension. Another example is one of my best profs from college, who got canned after a personality conflict (jealousy, I think, on the part of the head of the department, who felt himself being supplanted in popularity) and went on to teach at a private school, then got out of teaching altogether. When I graduated from college, there were a lot of stories about how increasingly hard it was to get a job leading to tenure.

Looking at those sorts of things happening to people I know, I'm just not confident that I'm resilient and self-promoting enough to survive in academia (or, for that matter, in some corporate environments). Also, growing up wearing thrift store clothes and never feeling secure about money, I just don't think I want to take a job like this. I'm slightly conflicted about my current job, but the main worry seems to be what I'd do if I ever had to leave it. I like my job, I like working for the organization, and the people are mostly great. I'm feeling a touch burned out at the moment, but that's manageable. But if I ever had another boss-from-hell (I had one a while back), I have no idea where I'd go or what I'd do -- I'd probably have to retrain. But I have great job security, and I guess I'm not willing to give that up for a job that might be more risky and more intellectually challenging.

What can I say, I'm a chicken...

But I have a house and a garden. So I'm a happy chicken.


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