Monday, July 20, 2015

Time for the annual existential crisis.

Hey, darlings.  It's summer again, which means it's time for Tante to freak out about her path in life.

I did not mean to do what I do for a living.  Growing up, I was heavily involved in theater, and when I was a senior in high school I got it in my head that I should study something "practical" in college.  Three years into my hospitality management degree, I realized I hated hotels and restaurants.  A brief fling with the forestry department turned into a 2-year relationship with the parks and rec management program, which is what I stuck with until I finally had enough scattered credits to graduate with a Liberal Studies degree.  I flailed about for a year or two, dealing with a new ADHD diagnosis and the terrifying realization that I had just spent 5+ years at school and didn't actually know how to do anything useful careerwise.

Somehow, I stumbled into outdoor education, and I have been in this business since 2003.  Don't get me wrong, I don't HATE it.... but when I say stumbled, I mean it.  I never meant to do this for a living.  I have no great passion for it.  I like the coworkers, and I know we're doing good work, and I am good at certain parts of it, but I don't love what I do. Anyone who has kept up with me over the years knows this.

Life is very short.  I work pretty damn hard at a job I don't particularly love to earn a paycheck that isn't that spectacular.  If I'm going to be working hard and earning crap, I think it should at least be work that I enjoy.

For a long time, I said that there was no way I'd go back to school, because there wasn't a subject that I liked enough to want to incur debt for.  While showering off today's camp filth and sweat, it occurred to me that I DO like something that much.

I have spent the last 13 summers volunteering for Pageant of the Masters.  Volunteering.  No pay.  I go do makeup underneath a stage 30 nights per summer because I like it.  At no point have I thought UGH NO I HAVE A SHOW TONIGHT I DON'T WANT TO GO.  Even if I'm tired, or filthy, or sick from child germs, I want to go.

I like THEATER that much.

I don't know what it takes to go back to school.  The cost of it scares the hell out of me, quite frankly. I don't make much money, and my job sucks up most of my energy.

I made a mistake in 1996 when I didn't pursue a degree in theater.

Perhaps it is time to remedy that mistake.

11 comments:

  1. School is expensive, it's part of the reason I probably won't be going back, that and I have no idea what I could take that would actually make me any money. Is theater really good where you live? Although there are two major theaters in surrounding cities where I am, I've heard the work isn't great. I once considered costume design or makeup, but I learned there's no career in it. Most of the people with theater related degrees/certificates that I've met have had to work other jobs to fill the gaps. Before you take the plunge into a theater degree, I'd suggest scoping out your local theater scene and talking to the people who work there. You might find out it's better not to blow all that money on an education that's potentially more useless than what you have now, and if that's the case, I would advise volunteering at the theater. Yes, it wouldn't pay worth beans, but at least you would be doing something you love.

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    1. I already volunteer in a theater. It's why I know I still enjoy it. I just want the broader tech skill set, because that's useful in a lot of areas.

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  2. It is always good to fufill your passions. At the moment, I cannot afford school but I maybe able to in the near future! If I do, I want to pursue a degree in English Lit. School is crazy expensive but I always believe in the pursuit of knowledge! If you can afford it, do it!

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    1. I'm crafty. I'm sure I can figure out how to swing it.

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  3. I don't know what to tell you ... a career in Theatre Arts is about as well-paying as one in Fine Arts, I'd imagine - and that's if you get lucky and actually find a job in your field. Still, as you say, life is very short. Speaking from personal experience, there will be regrets if you don't at least try.

    Is the Annual Existential Crisis Party a private affair, Tante or can the rest of us attend? I'm pretty sure I'll still be wondering about my chosen Retirement Career Path come this time next year. And I always enjoy a good party. ;)

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    1. Existential crises are always open to everyone.

      Like I said.... I don't make much now, and there's no real hope of making more. I'd rather like my daily life.

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  4. Two of my good friends are married and majored in theater. She teaches high school drama and he, prior to marrying her, led an itinerant lifestyle doing stage management types of things, I think. Then he settled in as the tech guy for our local opera house. Then that closed and he tours and works part time at various venues in the area. If he travelled more, he'd have pretty steady employment. Even in our little area he generally eeks out a living. I have another pal who tours with various broadway plays doing something technical. She studied theater at Davis and was always doing backstage stuff in college. She has an apartment in SF that she rarely sees, makes a good living and is happy. You could open up a 529 and save money and earn interest tax free while you are deciding.

    It is a crime how expensive college has become in California. While I'm happy that Nopalitano is increasing minimum wage to protect workers, it pisses me off that tuition is so high and so many slots go to out-of-staters. Maybe there is a JC with a theater AA?

    I don't get paid much but like the work and am fully committed to the mission. If I got paid this much for work that I wasn't fully committed to, it would be hard to do it sometimes.

    Good luck Tante!

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    1. I've still not come to terms with the idea that I've spent 20 years throwing myself on any life raft that floated past me, never once stopping to wonder if I knew how to swim.

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  5. I am guessing i am a bit younger than you, me and a lot of my friends have bounced between different studies and degrees, especislly with the job market the wsy it is, my brother did three degrees and finally has a proper job and a friend dropped out of a highly paid engineering job to pursue her love of graphic design. A big pay drop but she loves it! If you can afford it, do what you love! It is never too late to reach for happiness!

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    1. I'm 37. I graduated college in 2001. I've been in my industry since 2003, with a brief 6-month detour through unemployment in 2006. I am terrified to go forward with this, and more terrified that I might continue to watch years go by without at least trying to reclaim myself.

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