“Most of us spend our twenties scrambling for an identity and trying to figure out how we work. So much work, so much frustration.” – Laurrell K. Hamilton
One of my biggest hobbies is reading and I’ve recently come across Laurrell K. Hamilton who writes two series, Anita Blake (about a vampire hunter) and Merry Gentry (about a faerie princess). Since I can get pretty OCD about things I started to wonder if the characters lived in the same universe and if there would ever be a crossover novel. I came across this essay with this very insightful quote comparing the two characters. Anita is more my age in her mid-twenties while Merry is older in her early thirties. Definitely know exactly what she is talking about…maybe that’s why I’m addicted to her books!
Or at least the dream of the moment? Right now the only thing I am sure of is my love and passion for cooking. I love creating my own dishes, reading up on other people’s dishes, and watching hours of cooking shows (when I manage to have the time). But is it something that I really want to do? Should I just leave my job, drop everything and go back to school? That’s the question of the day…
Just about two weeks ago, as I was in the process of renewing my contract at work, I started thinking to myself, is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life? Not really…but what else is there? So I sat and thought for a while about things that I actually like to do. And the main thing that came to mind was cooking. I type “culinary arts program baltimore” into google’s search engine and lo and behold the local culinary arts school is having an open house in two days. It must have been a sign (or maybe just a big coincidence). I excitedly call the school to sign up for the open house and anxiously await the two days to go.
The day arrives and I’m majorly excited. Everyone at the school is friendly (of course) and really pushing me to attend (of course) and I feel myself just getting caught up in all the excitement. I decide to go ahead and apply, I even go as far as paying my enrollment fee to reserve myself a spot in the evening classes starting in the summer. I feel super excited and motivated! Of course I have no idea if I’d be able to hold down my current job, take care of my son, and take 5 hours of class 3 nights a week. And I had no idea right then and there what the financial situation was going to look like.
I decide to sign up for one of their shadow days to see what the whole experience is like. To find out that it is an hour of lecture/instruction and then four straight hours of cooking. And being in the 101 type class with a bunch of younger students, I felt older and just out of place. It was a great experience but not to be a snob, I just felt like I already knew the majority of the things they were learning. Afterwards I met with financial aid to get the biggest let down of the day. I found out everything would be theoretically covered with grants and loans. But the loans would put me $9500 deeper in debt.
Now it would be nice to look at this as an investment but right now putting myself into more debt for something I am still unsure how I feel about just doesn’t feel right. I have no idea where to go with all this right now. Classes start in about a month and I am theoretically signed up to go ahead with it. The other big question that is haunting me now is, is this really what I want to do? And I honestly have not a clue…
Growing up is easy, your parents, teachers, basically any adult tells you what to do. You know certain hours you have to be in school, you have a curfew that tells you when to get home, you get told when to eat, sleep, etc. Then you go to college and get some freedom, but life is still relatively structured around school, homework, side jobs, and friends. But after college…then what? That’s where I am right now. My time at school was most definitely not the traditional four years of college. I took time off at some point due to medical necessity and ended up pregnant my last semester there. Now I’m 24 (a few months away from turning 25), a proud mother of a two-year old boy, and have no clue where I want to go with my life.
I always thought I’d be a big time researcher, going off to graduate school right after graduating from college and getting some fancy PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering, but clearly that’s not where life took me. I lost interest in my selected field of study fast sometime nearing the end of my college career but since I was already so far along there wasn’t much of an option. I ended up spending the first two months after school and after the baby was born at home wondering what to do with my life when a part-time position came on my radar at the University of Maryland.
The position was vaguely related to what my background was in, it was a study about Diabetes and a cell phone management system that would help patients manage their disease. I took the position as a field researcher, acquiring data for the studying thinking that this would just be something until I figured out what I was actually going to do. But I guess my boss soon realized that I was more than capable of what I was doing for work and I soon got promoted to a research coordinator. And that was the beginning of the downward spiral…I took the position because it was a better opportunity and more money, but is that what is truly important in life? I was beginning to wonder…
Soon I was damn near running the study, a little more than a year after I was hired I went from being one of the field staff to assistant project manager. My entire life (minus the hours spent with my son) was absolutely consumed by work. Can we recruit this physician into the study, will we reach our monthly patient quota, is this patient eligible, these thoughts flew through my mind for what seemed like every waking moment. Then in October of last year our project manager decided to leave us and I got promoted once again. So I am presently running a project that I two years ago barely wanted to be apart of. I just renewed my contract to run through the end of February 2010 but am now wondering, where do I go after that? Do I find another contract within the system I’m currently working, do I pursue my dream of being a chef (more on this later), do I go back to school? Who the knows???
I don’t want to come off as the indecisive type but how did people for years and years stay in the same field and not loose their minds? Why was it called a mid-life crisis before? Who knew your quarter life could be just as bad?