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Not feeling it

Friday, December 29th, 2006

I think I’m having something of a quarter-life crisis. At almost 27 years old, maybe it seems a little late for this to happen, but I think that’s part of the problem. I’ve only been doing programming work, which is what I always thought I wanted to do, for the past two and a half years or so. Before that, I had assorted tech support jobs to pay the bills since I couldn’t find programming work.

And my last job, which was also my first long-term programming one, was a work from home thing that never felt like the real deal. So in some ways, the job I have now feels like my first “real” job — doing the kind of work I want, on a salaried basis, with benefits and everything — but you know what? It’s just not that great. I do enjoy the work that I do, for the most part, but sometimes, it’s mind-numbingly boring. This is true of most jobs, and I understand that. I was also hoping to be more part of a team in this job, which really isn’t the case.

I’m stressed over the large amounts of debt I’ve managed to accrue, which at this point I’ve whittled down to only student loans — but I’m still looking at paying them off at something like $200/month for the next 10 years. And that’s for just over two years of college; I didn’t even finish. And I still hope to go back to school sometime in the nearish future, but that would be at in-state IU tuition rates — a hell of a lot cheaper than Northwestern.

I just feel incredibly stifled; I lived a pretty sedentary lifestyle for a few years, including when I worked from home. All of that has changed since I moved back to my hometown this summer, got back into outdoor recreation, and got this “real” job. But now I realize how great the flexibility of working from home was, and that I didn’t take advantage of it nearly as much as I should have. These days, if I’m lucky, I can fit in one of the many things I want to do.

All of this is leading me to question all kinds of things. Do I really want to be a programmer? What would I do instead? Should I have bothered going to Northwestern in the first place? (That just seems like a real waste of money at this point.) Am I really as smart as I always thought I was? What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything? Will I ever amount to a hill of beans?

I’d really like some answers.

4 Responses to “Not feeling it”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Some answers:
    Do I really want to be a programmer?
    I don’t know that. Only you can figure that out. If you need some help, try this.
    What would I do instead?
    Join the circus?
    Should I have bothered going to Northwestern in the first place?
    Of course you should have. It allowed you to get away from Indiana long enough to appreciate it. It let you meet two beautiful women, two great friends, and Charlton Heston. Yes, it was expensive, but it’s too late to worry about if it was what you should have done.
    Am I really as smart as I always thought I was?
    No. You are much smarter than you realize. And I’m going to stand by that even if you end up doing acrobats while wearing clown shoes.
    What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
    Now you’re just giving me easy ones.
    Will I ever amount to a hill of beans?
    You mean the world to me, and that’s a hell of a lot bigger than a hill of beans.

    You’ll figure all this stuff out. Just be patient with yourself. 🙂

  2. Bud Buckley Says:

    My answer is probably pretty unsatisfactory but it worked for me. Now I’m retired and blissfully happy. It is this: If you can’t find something to do that you love, learn to love what you are already doing. With that attitude, you’ll still be able to move on if something else comes up.

  3. furiousBall Says:

    I agree with Bud. Do I like doing software development that is so nut cutting edge it’s funny, nope. But my focus and perspective is on those two short people in the picture frame on my desk. Stick with it, don’t jump ship – things will work out. Having a good, steady job as your worst day is better and many’s best one.

    Here’s a Viktor Frankl quote (I love this guy….)

    “Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run – in the long run, I say! – success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.” – Man’s Search for Meaning

  4. Apertome Says:

    Thanks, all of you. Sarah, you’re just slightly biased, but I do appreciate your encouragement.

    Bud and Van — you guys are right. I don’t think I’d actually go for a change in career. I mean, maybe, but I doubt it. I have worked really hard just to get where I am now. It’s just frustrating to work so hard to get here and then not be too happy with where I ended up. Then again, I haven’t really “ended up” anywhere yet, lots of going other places will hopefully happen in the future.

    That’s an awesome quote. The best things do seem to happen when I’m not looking for them.

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