About a month ago, I graduated from university with a BA in History. To no one’s surprise, I am still unemployed.
Six months prior to graduation, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. Slogging through boring papers, tests, and classes, I looked so forward to being allowed out of the confines of the institution so I could take on and take over the world. I was ready to write great books, articles, anything. Raise money, consciousness, everything in order to fix the world problems.
One month prior to the event, I had doubts. Not only was I uncertain that I would graduate, I was even less sure that I wanted to. People’s suggestion of staying around for another year seemed all the better. Where five months ago I scoffed at such an idea, now I was certain that it was better than my current plan.
Looking back on it though, I am glad I graduated. If only because I know, maybe better than most, that I would never have been ready to leave. I would never have had any great clarity because I never would have sought it without an urgent need for it.
Granted, even with a need only slightly less than urgent, I haven’t yet found it. I’m told all the time that this is a really great job market. That it’s a good time to have graduated, even if you just got an apparently worthless degree like I did. (I don’t feel that it’s worthless, but the world at large seems to be of that opinion.)
I would readily cede that the reason I don’t currently have a traditional job is not that I wouldn’t be able to get one if I tried. It’s rather that I haven’t yet found one that I actually want enough to apply for. What I see is not what I want. I don’t want a job selling things, making things, or analyzing things being bought and made.
Lloyd Dobler’s famous line says it better:
I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.
I recognize that to get a job in the traditional sense, I have to do something someone will pay me for. But right off the top of my head nothing I can think of seems worth doing.
And partially I’m just scared. Scared of taking on all that responsibility that comes with a job. Scared of how taking a job will change me.
I worry that if I take a job I don’t really like, I will be changed by it. That I may grow cynical, uninterested or useless. I realize that not all people with jobs are these things, but part of me thinks that I would be.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I should become a mailman. Or an insurance salesman. But right now, I don’t like the idea much.
4 responses to “Doubts About the Working World”
Working sucks. Pretty soon I’m going to hit the powerball and be set for life. Yep.
Have you checked out Idealist.Org? They have some great sources for getting a non-soul-sucking job. I’m checking them out myself these days, as the end draws near.
yeah, a job is what you make of it. how does it get you to what you really want to be doing? my job has changed in ways that i don’t like, but i’ll do it so long as it affords me the opportunit to do what i want to do (mainly play basketball in the middle of the day and get home and throw the baseball with my son).
it would be nice if i could find a job that defines me, but that would be dangerous so far as i’ve seen.
work is what keeps a roof over ones head, keeps food on the table, makes one tired and generally destroys any long term ambitions, unless the job happens to be the ambition.