About a month ago, old college friend/housemate Devon came up from her southern home to visit New Jersey. We met with other housemate Elana to catch up and eat some kosher food. Devon is by far the most advanced of the college folk - married, owns a house, baby on the way. The rest of us are mostly picking our noses and wondering where we went wrong.
The topic turned to jobs/careers, and Elana explained to Devon that she had just started school to become a massage therapist. E has been working for the last couple of years doing computer stuff for a university. It's certainly not what she planned on doing when she was in college, but what was supposed to be a temporary job turned into something else. Elana cleared her throat. "I graduate from massage therapy school next June. And then I'm going to move to San Diego and get a job at a spa. Or I might work on a cruise ship." There was a pause and I said, "I think that's awesome. That's a great escape route."
My own personal escape route is to keep doing this for a few more years, save up some money, pay off some debt, and then leave. I think I'll travel around the world for about three months, thanks in part to this website, and Global Freeloaders, and when I return, perhaps I'll open a bar. As I was looking for new jobs earlier in the year, I came to the conclusion that one of my problems was that I was entirely lacking any enthusiasm for my chosen profession. It's not the field itself, which is generally interesting. It's the idea that I'm expected to do it for too many hours a week, to give up too many things in exchange for money and a shot at becoming partner. Why?
That question of why is what spurred me on. Maybe you'd hate anything you had to do for 80 hours a week. Or maybe there really is something out there that'll make you happy to get out of bed every day. It's not true that everyone hates their job. With these thoughts circling my head, I realized that one of the main reasons I was hanging onto this profession was the idea that I had spent three years in school getting the degree. I couldn't waste the time or money, could I?
I got feedback from the strangest and most unlikely of sources - my brother-in-law. He grew up very poor and as a result, has always believed that the pursuit of money was very important. But back before he started doing stock analysis, he used to teach doctors how to use and read CT scans and MRIs. And he really enjoyed it, it just didn't pay a whole lot. So when I talked about traveling the world because there were so many places I wanted to go and I couldn't really see myself trecking around India when I retired at 70, and that then maybe I'd open a bar, I got a rant from my sister, and a knowing nod from Crazy. He said, "It's good to travel when you're younger. You're right, you should do it. And a bar could be a good business. And you could always go back to law if it didn't work."
Opinionistas clearly doesn't have an escape route planned, but I think she ought to get one. After reading her entertaining blog, I am more convinced than ever that no amount of money is worth the hours and the crappy living. And meanwhile, I intend to spend the next few years fleshing out my own escape route. Cliche as it is, life's too short.