Career Change

Years ago, I decided to resign an Assistant Professorship and go in search of a new career. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by the ways in which people ‘find themselves,’ and discover what makes them sing (metaphorically, in most cases, but sometimes literally). I have read tons of self-help books on the topic, taking personality tests and career tests, and filling journals with my ramblings. I even went so far as to interview a bunch of scientists who had also left academic or research jobs, and started writing a book using their interviews, but I never finished it.

One thing I did discover from this research, though, is how unique we all are. No single book can help all of us. No test can find the center of our hearts, if we don’t know for ourselves where our compass is.

Some people seem to be born knowing what to do. Early in life they pick up a musical instrument and never put it down. Maybe they dance, take every gadget in their house apart, bring home bugs to the dismay of their parents, save and invest money, or in other ways latch on to their future.

Most of us are not like that. We admire those who know which way to go. They amaze us because finding what makes us happy turns out to be a lifelong quest. I remember interviewing one man who decided such passion was a myth. He gave up and returned to a teaching career which gave him some satisfaction, but definitely was not ‘it.’

I thought when I left the University that finding my passion would be easy. I took some workshops, I did those interviews, and I journaled like crazy. I read books by spiritual teachers who said that joy could only be found inside. For a while I thought ‘it’ was composing music. But, while I enjoy music, doing it full time left me gnawing at myself, not quite fulfilled. I tried painting (I was pretty lousy), and ran out of steam. I enjoy giving therapeutic massages, but it also isn’t ‘it.’ That passion, which is almost all encompassing. Is it a myth? Was that man correct?

It’s only now, after years of working with myself, that I have fallen in love with writing. Talking to people, I see that career is a burning question for many of them. I touch on this question in the novel, and its answer is important to many of my characters. What about you? Is it family? Volunteer work? Occupy Something? Are you still searching? Have you found an answer, however temporary?

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