So Unsure

11 Apr

I am having a serious issue, something that I am not sure how to handle.  I am spending hours every week working on graduate classes, and the more time I spend on them the more I realize that I am headed down the wrong path in life.  I am working on classes that are not suited to my interests, my goals in life, or what I want for myself and my family.  I don’t want to be a teacher.  I am not cut out to be a teacher, and if I did it I would be unhappy.  Unhappy teachers do themselves and their students a disservice.  The classes I am taking have taught me that the day-to-day responsibilities and duties of being a teacher are far too concerned with the nitty gritty, with conforming to state requirements and endless restrictions.  I know some people are passionate about teaching and, as such, don’t have an issue with these things.  For me, teaching is not my passion and so I would be bogged down in the details and unable to do my best.

Now comes the guilt.  I keep flip-flopping, keep changing up my plans.  How long can I keep doing this, keep digging and searching to find something that makes me happy, when I have a family to take care of?  How long is it fair for me to deny my family potential income because I am still on the search for my bliss?

In truth, if I am completely honest, it’s writing that makes me really happy.  Writing, blogging, articles… those are the things that make me feel amazing, those are the things that make me feel intelligent and challenged and truly fulfilled.  But how do I make that work?  How do I find/create opportunities for writing that will turn into real, steady income for my family?  And how can I be sure this is the right thing to do?  Am I wronging my family by choosing to follow my passion, which will make me happy but likely never make me much money, or do I push through my own needs and pursue a more profitable career that makes me less happy but that provides for my family in a better way and gives us all a better quality of life and the money to afford bigger, better, fuller life opportunities?

I struggle because the life I want to live (traveling, eating well, exploring the world) is not well matched to the kind of careers that make me happy, since they don’t tend to pay well.  I want to be happy, but I want even more for my family to be as well supported and financially safe as possible.  I know you can raise a happy family without money, but everyone knows how much easier it is when you aren’t worried about how you’re going to pay the bills.  If there was a choice, who wouldn’t choose to make enough money to travel with your kids and show them the wonders of the world?

I can pursue my writing at the expense of my formal education (which, if I choose to pursue my passion for writing, becomes unnecessary) or I can continue my formal education (with an obvious and necessary path change) at the expense of my writing in order to better provide for my family.  The more I type, the more clear the decision seems to be… but I am sad for the idea that I will have to leave my writing behind.  I want to be happy, but I often think that I have an unrealistic idea of what constitutes workplace happiness.  Maybe no one is truly happy with their jobs in the way I am always seeking to be.  Maybe it can’t be achieved regardless.  If that’s true, maybe it’s only right for me to continue working toward a higher degree and, therefore, better opportunities.

Do I write, knowing it may be an utterly futile exercise?  Do I spend a lot of time and a little money bettering my education (specifically my language skills) to become a more ideal candidate for the graduate programs that will better suit me and, as such, head down the path of more financial stability?  I am so at a loss.  This all started when I was told that my graduate funding (originally promised to pay for my entire degree) will end next Spring, thus leaving me unable to finish the current degree work anyway.  I am so confused.  I don’t know what to do.

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2 Responses to “So Unsure”

  1. Jaime April 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    So why not do something that encompasses both? Allows you exposure to literature thus feeding the bug and keep on writing but can be a more permanent and reliable career then writing alone is.
    Specifically I think off of a Masters in Library Science (allowing you to run a library), Publishing (http://publishingcareers.blogspot.com/) (http://www.bookjobs.com/)….
    I am sure you thought of this but I thought I would toss it out there.

  2. hillary April 12, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    I think there is middle ground. Most people I know work for money, not because they found something that is their color-of-parachute-passion, but that doesn’t mean they can survive doing something they hate. There are many, many jobs that incorporate written communication skills — grant writing, public relations, development, social media coordinators, web content editors. I work in communications, of course, and I find a lot of people who do have a passion for writing fiction or in other genres in their time away from work.

    I struggle with this too sometimes. I fell into a career because I needed to support myself. I don’t hate it, but it isn’t that “this is my dream” kind of thing. I have a thing like that, but it involves going back to school, and I’ve decided for now that that needs to take a backseat. I have my mom’s example after all — she is in graduate school in her 60s. There will probably be time enough in your life for 3 or 4 career pursuits. Don’t forget that.

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