What Do I Really Want Out of Life?

It’s time for another rambling post on what I want out of life, spurred on by my visit to Truman this weekend.  My friends keep asking me what I’m going to major in, and I keep telling them I’ve decided to stay with computer science.  I’m not exactly passionate about it, but it’ll get me a good job until I figure out what I really want to do.  I do like Web design though, so maybe I’ll go into that.  I just wish I had the kind of consuming interest that some of my friends have towards their fields of study.

Growing up, I never expected to really like my life.  I know that sounds weird, but I thought I was just being mature and realistic.  I figured I’d probably become an engineer since I was good at math and science.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be an engineer, I just sort of felt that I “should” become one, like it was my duty to society or something.  (Explanation: My senior year in high school, I was finally diagnosed with depression, then prescribed antidepressants.  They have made a world of difference in my life.  Given the incredible transformation my personality underwent, I suspect that my brain chemistry was slightly off from birth, creating a persistent, fluctuating state of depression.  When you combine this with some difficulties at home, plus a somewhat legalistic religious upbringing, you can better understand how I would have come to hold such a view).

Somewhat as a result of that, I’ve never really found my “niche.”  For a long time, my dream job (which I obviously never thought I’d be able to get) was to be Secretary of State.  Then I read a biography of Madeleine Albright and found out what the job really entailed.  I had been under the impression that it consisted of me studying foreign policy, coming to informed decisions that improve life for Americans and for those around the globe, and then going around the world to meet with leaders, discuss important issues, and sign treaties.  Instead, I found out that it involves a lot of political schmoozing, plus the people who actually do the vast majority of the research are State Department underlings.  Realpolitik considerations often curtail which policies you’re actually allowed to support.  Your success is largely determined by how well you curry favor with those in power (or on their way to it).

That seemed really superficial to me.  Not to mention it totally doesn’t fit my personality at all.  Even being a research underling doesn’t fit me, since I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to writing papers, etc.  I thought about becoming a professor or something, but I’m REALLY burnt out of school, and plus it’s so hard to get one of those jobs anyway.

More than anything, right now I just want to finish school.  Currently, I have three semesters to go, so I should graduate in December 2014.  I’ve given up on finding anything I’m passionate about before then.  Afterwards, I might be able to find a job in Web design that I’d like, although I’m thinking about getting a job as a pharmacy tech instead since I’ll have my certification by then.  It’s mildly interesting, and it would allow me to support myself.  Honestly, at this point, I just want to quit trying to be the academic superstar and get on with my life.  As long as a job would allow me to do that, I’m okay with anything that’s legal, moral, and ethical.  I’m sick of trying to find the perfect job that will magically give me a purpose in life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I said in one of my earlier posts, about how I could never see myself as a stay-at-home mom.  However, this hasn’t stopped me from going through a recent spate of baby name fever (I apologize if I’ve tortured anyone with my long discussions of the pros and cons of various names).  The more I think about it, the more I can see myself as a SAHM.  Obviously, that’s not exactly something I can set up a five or ten year plan for.  I don’t even know if I’ll still want to do it if/by the time I marry and have kids.  All I’m saying is that the idea is no longer totally repugnant to me, now that I’ve seen that having kids doesn’t have to stress you out all the time.  I think there’s so much pressure in American society today to achieve, and I feel like raising kids could be much more enjoyable if parents resisted it (at least to some degree).

Anyway, I guess the point is that I’m officially declaring that I would like to have kids someday, God willing.  (The five-year-old me who was extremely anti-domestic and refused to play “House” or dolls is off laughing somewhere at that, I’ve no doubt).  I’m trying not to obsess about it since a lot of factors that lead into that decision, like marriage, etc. are out of my control, at least to some degree.  However, it is nice to know that I do still have some goals in life, even if they’re not exactly the ones I came to college with.  Still, it probably wouldn’t hurt to go home and reread The Feminine Mystique and de-romanticize my view of motherhood a little bit.

2 thoughts on “What Do I Really Want Out of Life?

  1. Aw, I like your last several posts – sorry I haven’t responded in a while – it sounds like you’ve been thinking about A LOT about some of life’s big issues lately! Trying to look outside of yourself for ‘perfection’ in a job, relationship, family, religion, church, etc, is just setting yourself up to be disappointed in my opinion – things just are what they are – how you respond to them is YOUR CHOICE. You can choose to be miserable or content in any job – that does not mean that you will not strive for something more, but your true happiness does not come from a job, a relationship, or a perfect family- it comes from within you. I know that sounds really cliche, but it really is true. If you haven’t read it, I can send you Eckart Tolle’s ‘Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose’ – I have it sitting right here on my bookshelf. I really relate to it and keep it as a reference when I need refreshers, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed with life and all its choices.

    Being a SAHM is wonderful, enjoyable, and sometimes stressful – kids are a tremendous burden in many ways, but bring a joy and fulfillment that is impossible to describe in words. Parenthood is overwhelming at times, but our society (especially some women writers) have made the SAHM out as something really negative and awful for the moms. The thought of babies being put into daycare at 6 weeks old disgusts me – I truly don’t see why people have children just to farm them out to someone else (who has no vested interest in them whatsoever) to raise. It’s gross. I’m not talking about parents who MUST work to make ends meet – certainly situations arise and both parents must work. However, I have two good friends who have moved across the country from CA so that the mom could afford to stay home while the kids were little. Those moms have since gone back to work (one back to CA) part-time while the kids are in school. It makes a huge difference in the child’s attachment, ability to cope with stress (I’ve worked with SO many aggressive kids – kids who have had to fend for themselves since birth in daycare situations), and how they form and keep relationships with adults and other children. I could give you a plethora of research to support how vital early attachment is in children….brain development and chemical responses (cortisol, adrenaline, etc) in infants whose environment is stressful and inconsistent (most daycare).

    There is no ‘right’ path for you- you will make choices your entire life and each choice will have a consequence – this is not good or bad. It just IS. You make the best choice at the time and if more knowledge comes to you later, you revise your plan, perhaps change course, and keep going…. There’s no magic ball for the future, unfortunately, but how lucky we are to live a country where women can actually make their own choices! I really think once you finish school and get out into the working world things will become more clear to you. Hobbies and what you do in your spare time are really important, too – is there something fun you could do in your community right now – perhaps walking dogs at the SPCA, helping at a school library, teach kids Spanish, volunteering at a thrift store (the book guy at our Goodwill can find any book I request!), volunteering at a nursing home to play piano, do a craft, visit with the elderly??

    Any chance you’d be able to come to CA this summer if we bought your ticket?? Time away from home may really help clear your head… and I would love to see you again (as would the kids!). You could help Joe get started on his AP English for next year (yes, insane that he’s taking it- that’s a whole other story!) and help Alaina perfect her Cosette from Les Miserables!

    • Thank you for your wise words! I’m trying to work on the whole “happiness from within” thing. That’s something that’s really been a struggle for me, since I tend to focus on my circumstances instead. If that book’s helped you, then I’d love to read it! And don’t worry about not commenting for a while- you are currently tied for the title of “Most Regular Commenter.” 😀

      It’s nice to hear your take on being a SAHM, since you’ve actually been one. It seems like so much discussion about that is focused on each side demonizing the other. And I didn’t realize just how important early attachment is. Ironically, now that I’ve started pondering being a SAHM for a while at some point, it’s helped me solidify my academic goals, since website design is my favorite part of computer science, and that’d be something I could gradually phase back into as a freelancer or something as my kids got older, or possibly be able to do working from home. And now that I have at least a vague idea of what I want to do with my life (at least for now) it’s starting to make academic stuff seem more relevant and interesting!

      I’m gradually realizing that life really is a series of choices, like you said. I think that was kind of what threw me for a loop once I got to college- before that it was kind of like “do well in school, so you can get into a good college and get scholarships so you can get a good job, so you can move up the career ladder…” I’m trying to figure out what motivates me intrinsically, which is hard. I think once I get a sense of that, it’ll be easier to make choices. And I have a hard time remembering that a wrong choice isn’t the end of the world. But I am glad to live in the US and not in the Middle East or somewhere, so that I do get to make my own choices!

      I’ve been meaning to get around to volunteering at the Catherine McAuley Center in town as an ELL tutor. I’ve done that the past couple summers, and have really enjoyed it. Plus, my pharmacy tech observations start soon, so that’ll be another 48 hours taken off my hands 🙂 I’m still knitting- after I finished your scarf I made another one for a friend, then I made a misshapen cat toy for Teacup, and I’m just starting a little rug for my dorm room next year.

      I just finished spring break, which was nice. One of my high school friends came back home, so I got to hang out with him and his friend, and then I went down to Kirksville for a few days and got to see people.

      I’m still trying to figure out my summer plans- I’m hoping to get a pharmacy tech job since the internship didn’t work out. But I would LOVE to come to California if things work out. Tell Joe I think he’s brave for taking AP English- I mostly stuck to math and science in terms of AP courses. Once I got to college though, I kind of regretted not having had it. So I think it’ll be worth it (although I’m sure there will be moments when he’ll question that). And I would love seeing Alaina’s Cosette, lol!

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