Friday, August 18, 2006

Thinking You Are Something, And It Turns Out You Aren't

I was just remembering back almost 10 years ago... 9 years and 9 months, actually. I had been working for a year in the Computer Connection on the Belmont campus, and had finally reached the end of my ability to live on $1000 a month. I had let it be known I'd like to find a computer support job to the one person I knew in the field (brother Cy). It ultimately led to an interview and job offer with the William Morris Agency, which was far and away more than I had ever thought of for myself.

But it also wasn't what I'd really wanted, either. It was a corporate job, which meant responsibility and dress codes and loss of freedom. It was, to my way of thinking, the end of any Creative Dreams I might have had (which were vague at best) just for the Almighty Dollar. But I knew I absolutely had to do it; my student loans were coming due, my credit card debt was high, and I couldn't afford to live any longer on $8.04 an hour.

But I sobbed when I got off the phone with the HR person who offered me the job... because I really felt like it was the end of my ambitions; a job contrary to everything I was meant to be. I had just finished my 2nd major in theater, having had the intention to teach high-school drama. But I found out along the way that I was unwilling to go to any school other than Belmont which was safe and comfortable to me, and then when I applied to Grad School, the only programs I was accepted to were at Northwestern, with no assistantship or financial aid, and Austin Peay, which was pitiful. Funny - now that I look back, I have no idea when I decided that I would just give up Grad School entirely; it obviously didn't give me any pain to give up all the preparatory work I had done for auditions, resumes, letters of recommendation, etc. because I don't remember it at all.

I did take a year to try and "make it" as a working actor in Nashville with a variety of part-time jobs & housesitting. I don't think I got a single paying gig. I even had an agent, who sent me on 2 auditions, and then never called again. I slipped out of that idea easily too, and started helping people with their home computers as I was learning skills at the campus store. But I still clung to the idea that I was Creative, and that I should be in The Arts; everyone else seemed to think so too, even though I had by then realized that my performing talents were mediocre at best. But I expressed myself so... expressively! dramatically! Surely that meant I was supposed to be an actor...

So I took the System Administrator job at WMA, promising myself I'd only have to do it for 2 years till I could pay off my debts and student loans. I honestly didn't know how I could endure it. But I loved it - it was perfect for me, and I stayed until they asked me to leave, for reasons which still elude me. 8 years of almost flawless evaluations... oh well. The job had done its purpose - it had taken away the illusion that I was purely right-brain, and taught me how to use my left-brain.

So now 10 years later, looking at the person I've morphed into, and looking back at the person I thought I was... I wonder if I'm about to turn out to be something else again. Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my greatest fears is being called to the mission field. I can rattle off a list of Places I Don't Want To Go faster than people can think of where they'd like to go on their dream vacation. Uncomfortable, unfamiliar, unsafe - that's what I equate with missions, and despite the fact that I don't think I have a talent for it, fear getting sick in a 3rd world country, and hate the idea of giving up my safe and comfortable existence, I'm always ready to assume that I'm going to be "made" to do it someday.

It turns out I wasn't an actor. Maybe it will turn out that I'm not a computer geek. Maybe it will turn out that I'm another thing altogether.

1 comment:

DesiDancer said...

Sociologists have found that generation X changes careers SEVEN times in their lifetime, on average. Not job changes, entire career changes. I think I can count up 5 or 6, so maybe what I'm doing now is finally what I'm meant to be doing... or not ;)