Careers Are a 20th Century Invention

You’ve probably heard this story before: straight-A student, honors, big dreams, blah blah, blah blah, until one day all those aspirations snowball into one big Fuck You, rolls off a cliff, dives into the water and rests on the ocean floor for all eternity.

A round of applause. (A chorus of tears)

People have described me as “lost in life”. I smile and tell them I’m fine. Unfamiliar territory doesn’t worry me, for I know that it is just sitting there, ready for me to make something out of it. Should I feel incapable of effecting any change in my circumstance, it just means I have gotten lazy or too tired – which is okay. Only a man who stays in one place for years and still ask himself, “Why am I here?” is lost in life.

I have defaced the tenets of convention and I am not sorry. No matter how I look at it, I couldn’t bring myself to call my rage quit moment a mistake. It’s hard enough knowing that had I stayed, I would have had a sure, clear road built before me. Further reinforcing that guilt is the fact that it felt good and it still does.

What destroyed me was the expectation of “finding your calling” and that it is supposed to be a monogamous relationship that lasts until death. Or at least until retirement. To others, it is safety. I found it horrifying.

Growing up, I was perplexed with having to choose just one. How could I, when I found so many things interesting? More alluring is the fact that you can learn anything you want as long as you try hard enough. Computers, physics, literature, psychology, cinema, geography. The world was my oyster. And so, the young soul that I was, I vowed to do everything. Or at least become many things.

I had one problem: life ends. I could not simply fit everything in one lifetime. Knowing this, I developed an aversion to routine, to familiarity, to any activity that took up too much time. For anything to be worthwhile, I had to benefit from it by way of discovery, be it in the form of a new insight, perspective or ability. Once an occupation could no longer give me anything new to learn, I moved on. I was on fire. Later on, I would identify this restlessness as a fear of growing old.

Riding on this new-found philosophy, I quit college, hurtled through 8 different jobs and 5 different houses and apartments in a span of 3 years. Nested within that period was a short phase of assaulting my body with different substances just to arrive at an altered state of consciousness. It was the most climactic my life has ever gotten. Some cords snapped, new ones were added until I felt like a whole new machine. At that point, I felt like I had reached a plateau.

No, I didn’t get to find my “one true calling”. The concept of a career is still irrelevant to me. What has changed is the arrival of a new and stronger resolve – that there is so much more to life than what I surround myself with.

I may or may not finish that degree. I may or may not become a lawyer, or a filmmaker. I may or may not land an office job ever again. It doesn’t matter anymore how I do it, but I must find the means to just get myself out there. The world is still my oyster. I may not become all the things I had dreamt of becoming, but I must see as much of the world as I can. And it’s okay to grow old doing so.