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Friday, October 08, 2004

Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? 

by Karen
Not content to wait until actual mid-life to have a mid-life crisis, I've decided to over-achieve in this area and have them every 10 years. If it's good enough for the U.S. census, it's good enough for me.

Let me sum up me in a few stark words: went to law school, worked in a law firm, worked at an international organization, went back to law firm, hated said work with a fiery passion--usually reserved for sin and injustice, am now unemployed, am now looking for jobs for which I am apparently not qualified, self-doubt and crazy schemes are hatching simultaneously. (Well, that first part was more descriptive, and the last part more mid-life crisis-ish.)

Here's the thing. I think I'm going back to school. I, already over-educated and debt-laden, am seriously considering returning to get a Master's degree in International Affairs/Security Studies, with the goal of an eventual Ph.d. nascently forming. Now, I'm not so crazy that I'm going to go to school full time. This will be strictly a night thing that will hopefully correspond to and complement the fascinating day job that I plan to have in the very near future--please God, the very near future...

So here are the existential questions: Who am I? Am I the gal who will not be happy with my career until I'm doing exactly the kind of work that fascinates me, and moreover will not be happy unless I can link my job directly to being socially beneficial? (Not in a "I'm helping the economy kind of way" but in a "I want to actually be writing the foreign policy" kind of way.) In law school I didn't think that those things mattered to me, now I know they are essential. Is that selfish? Millions of people simply exist by doing jobs that they don't necessarily like, but that pay the bills. Why should I be different? Because I have the luxury to do so? I'm not married, I'm not supporting children, therefore my happiness is paramount? Or should I be looking at this more in a law of consecration kind of way? I should develop whatever meager talents I've been given to the highest degree possible as a way of benefitting others.

Where did I come from? Well, educationally, and most recently, law school. My inspiration to "go for it" and get an ivy league education was much stronger than my inspiration to serve a mission. I knew that I should go to law school, mostly for that "law of consecration" reason mentioned above...yet, it turns out that was more of a stepping stone rather than an end. Am I turning my back on that inspiration? Rejecting it? Or is this new career plan, complete with the resulting financial and time cost, a refining of my original trajectory--a honing, rather than a correction? Further, I love being in school. Again, am I being selfish because I'm having a difficult time right now, and want the same kind of happiness that I remember from undergrad and law school? Partly, yes. I miss that kind of structured learning. I miss the atmosphere.

Where am I going? (Besides to the temple...for some serious introspection...) Apparently, back to school. Apparently to a place where I'm over-educated and under-financed. (Incidentally, very attractive traits to the single Mormon male population...) But also, apparently to a place where I'm happier, apparently to a place where I'm more qualified for jobs that I actually want (government and eventually teaching), and apparently a place where I'm finally satisfied with my career choices--in a great big existential sleep-at-night-and-look-at-myself-in-the-mirror-in-the-morning kind of way.

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