Making a career
The past several weeks have been a blur of resumes, cover letters, meetings, phone calls, waves of hope and despair. Every now and then I surface to take stock of what I know for certain so that I can calm down a bit and focus on the little things.
In the process of launching a new online portfolio, I uncovered so many projects from the past that had somehow escaped my mind: unedited Film Club movies, websites that never launched, unfinished music I was creating. And so many completed projects that I was once proud of that are now just sitting on a hard drive.
I don't spend a lot of time looking backwards. I can't decide if this is good or bad.
One thing that I've found myself dwelling on lately is the concept of a career. More specifically, my career. I'm 36 years old and still don't really know what I want to do when I grow up.
Maybe this is a good time to reassess the importance (or lack thereof) of actually figuring that out. I've been fortunate to have been presented with a host of possible directions for my professional career, and I'm grateful to everyone who has taken time to help.
As I mentally live out each of these possible futures, I find myself searching for the difference I can make. I'm not sure if it's integrity or hubris, but I'm not content to spend my time chasing dollars. My general feeling about money is summed up by a quote in the film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory":
There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket — There are only five of them in the whole world, and that's all there's ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?
When I was younger and more idealistic, I liked to think that I would somehow change the world. Now that I'm a bit more grounded, I feel that even more. And it's only when I allow myself to look back that I can see the change I have made. It's hard to see while it's happening. It doesn't look like anything. It could be a small project, a connection you make with a new person, a piece of software you publish. And you move on. And if you don't look back, you might not notice its significance.
And then someday, when you're exhausted from fighting whatever battle you're fighting, and you can allow yourself to actually reflect on the years, it all hits you at once. And it's overwhelming.
I think we all hold a secret fear of dying with the regret of leading an insignificant life. But we don't really want to talk about it.
So I'm trying to come to an understanding of just what makes a career. If I could figure that out, maybe I would have some direction. Or maybe I have the right amount of direction already. Maybe I'm just meant to not figure it out.
This blog got so existential! Sorry about that.
So, what's your career? Why do you do the things you do? And give me an answer that doesn't involve something as common as money.