help! it's not what you know, it's who you know...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 7:50 PM GMT
    let me start off by saying that i have never felt this way before in my entire life, and i don't want to be lectured by anyone about pulling myself up by my boot straps or some other equally unhelpful and insensitive cliché.


    i have no direction. none. i feel completely lost and unmotivated.


    i feel like i did everything i wanted to do by the time i was 26, and that i've been spinning my tires for the last 6 years since i left graduate school. i have never had a job that is satisfying or that pays well. i keep running into jobs that suck all my energy/ideas away for a bullshit rate of pay. i've run out of ideas of what to do next. i don't even feel motivated to dance anymore. everything feels pointless, and i don't know why. i do know that i'm 32 and i have no savings, no insurance, and no prospects. fear is nailing me in place, holding me tight in a status quo that is familiar, but not rewarding.

    everything i want to try requires paying for yet more education/training/certification. i have enough education. i need help figuring out what to do with it. i feel like i was lied to: working hard and going to college IS NOT a guarantee for a good, rewarding career. i look around, and the people i see making the most money doing what they want are those who went to technical college and learned skills.

    my background is in the performing arts, fitness, education, and writing. i'm interested in breaking into technical writing (if it doesn't require getting a $5,000 certification), corporate training (but that DOES seem to require a $5,000 certification), or something to do with movement/therapy (i was a personal trainer, but that's not stable enough).

    i've gotten ideas from a couple of you so far, and i'm tremendously grateful, but i've gotten so desparate lately that i almost enlisted in the army. so... i'm opening this convo out:

    IF YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS YOU'D CARE TO SHARE, PLEASE DO.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:04 PM GMT
    First of all you need to start letting go of the past. The decisions you made then have no bearing on the future. And you are only 32 so you have plenty of time to make money and develop your career.

    The key is look for the opportunities that will help you develop not dwell on the decisions you took many years ago.

    Have you seen a career advisor? Or spoken to your friends about what they think you should be doing?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:09 PM GMT
    yes and yes
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Aug 25, 2008 8:09 PM GMT
    Jack,
    You need to be in a situation where you can reap the rewards of your own efforts and talents. Have you ever thought about establishing your own business. I realize you don't have money and sole proprietorship means long hours (how well I know)... you just need to be in a situation where you control your own scene.

    I remember my Dad (who was a corporate attorney prior to his retirement) talking about running your own situation.... the BEST encouragement he ever gave me!

    icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:09 PM GMT
    and what do they say?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:19 PM GMT
    hnds:
    yes, i've given that some thought; however, i have so many interests that the problem is trying to figure out which one (or what combination thereof) will repay my efforts and be sustainable. i'd love to make my own situation - i prefer it to working for others; however, i don't know anything about entrepreneurialship...

    red:
    well, my family suggested the armed forces. my friends tell me to do what makes me happy. my professional coach helped me create a resume that focuses on what i've already done and would probably keep me on the same track. my cat tells me to do whatever is necessary to buy him crunchies...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:30 PM GMT
    In an ideal world what would you really like to do?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:32 PM GMT
    write a book! lol

    I think you should really sit back and relax. Then take some time and imagine who you want to be in 15 years. Then maybe you can figure out where you should be going and what you should be doing.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:40 PM GMT
    The Great American Novel!® icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:50 PM GMT
    Don't enlist in the armed forces.
    Technical writing as a career will drive you crazy.

    Are you willing to work in sales? Something outside like restaurant.com or staples corporate? Have you considered a university job of some sort? Maybe UNNC has some openings in one of their art/music dept offices?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 8:52 PM GMT
    A lot of employers will ask for a broad liberal arts background for a technical writing position. In IT there are many who have not had any tech training, certification, etc. Being able to edit well and work with the systems engineers is paramount. That said, just diving into a writing position with a tech handle is a great way to get started, have several friends who did this--one with a fine arts degree. Just an idea icon_question.gif
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Aug 25, 2008 9:09 PM GMT
    Until the US Armed Forces (and the overall command structure) has gotten its shit together with regards to bis, gays, and lesbians serving, please don't join them. You're too much of a star to go into some fatigue-draped closet.

    Is this a temporary slump or has it built up over time? It sounds like the latter given your description of your last few jobs ("that suck all my energy/ideas away for a bullshit rate of pay").

    While personal training is too unstable for you, are there any possibilities as a dance teacher where you live? Any possibilities that are stable and decently paid?

    Any chance for getting into local politics?

    (I'm curing my own slump with more schooling; grad. studies are a lot cheaper over here though)
  • SuneFL

    Posts: 129

    Aug 25, 2008 9:10 PM GMT
    DJ ...
    You and I have come to similar points in our lives for very different reasons. After a 16 year career most would kill for... I was forced to walk away because I changed physically and many in the biz couldn't deal with it. I am now simply experiencing life and opening myself up to new challenges.

    Financially, I know that can be hard to do.

    I read what you've done. You've talked about what you want to do for a job. What do you love? What is your passion? The best advice ever given to me was to make my avocation my vocation. While money is important, I wouldn't focus on it at first. You've got a solid resume. Use it creatively. You say you want to be a technical writer? What's the topic? Something you could write about endlessly. Find the company or publication that meets your desires. Wow them with an off the wall presentation. If you need an example... let me know. The money will come if you love what you do and excel at it.

    Another question: are you stuck where you live? Sometimes you have to be willing to relocate to find the job/career you want. I moved 4 times in 7 years. Believe me, I know it gets tougher when you get older.

    I would tell you to hang in there.... but you don't want to be patronized. So, good luck.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 9:12 PM GMT
    Jack, I dicked around in grad school for entirely too long in pursuit of a career I ultimately decided wasn't for me, so I get where you're coming from. I just hit thirty, and yeah, I feel like I'm on track now. At the same time, I feel like I'm running hard to play catch-up, so far as being where I wanna be in life.

    You've got a strong academic background, given your writing and all the time in grad school. Have you thought of university administration? I realized at one point I wasn't exactly cut out to be a tweedy, quirky Medieval Lit professor (and research sucked the life out of me), but working with students in a bustling university atmosphere was still what I wanted, so I threaded my way into administration and student services. An MA in English is pretty useful, in a general sort or way, to get there. True, I'll need more than that to really get where I want (the president's office at a little lib arts school, someday), but it's a start. In a decade, I've told myself I'll go back for a PhD in university administration...if that's still the direction I wanna go. And all the while, I'll continue working at my other passion - writing.

    My advice, I guess, is to figure out what the common elements of your jobs/careers have been that you've enjoyed, and once you know where your passions lie, take the next step (leap?) from there.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 9:15 PM GMT
    of all the jobs/endevours youve undetaken which was enjoyable
    despite the pay
    have you considerd moving to another part of the country where something you enjoy, might work out better for you
    having no insurance seems to be almost normal in the us
    looking for direction is something only you can control
    so check what it is you enjoy and where you can do just that
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 9:16 PM GMT
    RunintheCity saidDon't enlist in the armed forces.
    Technical writing as a career will drive you crazy.

    Are you willing to work in sales? Something outside like restaurant.com or staples corporate? Have you considered a university job of some sort? Maybe UNNC has some openings in one of their art/music dept offices?

    I concur re: techical writing; however, courseware authoring and corporate training were much more fulfilling to me, back in the day. In my case, no cert was required for either -- I think it's only required when you work for training vendors (i.e., ExecuTrain) or institutions of higher learning.

    Otherwise, I can empathize with the dilemma of having too many vague areas of talent and interest. It's really hard to "pick just one" because you feel like you're giving up the others. In my case, I "gave up" architecture, theater, singing, modeling, etc. However, I gained a psych degree and, over the years, a bunch of technical certifications. I'm finally heading back to grad school in January, and this is a program that I think will help me to use many of my talents, but also with great earning potential.

    All the best, man. I definitely know what it's like to go through a mid-life crisis at 32. icon_wink.gif

  • SuneFL

    Posts: 129

    Aug 25, 2008 9:22 PM GMT
    Oh, and btw, the title of your post is very accurate.

    You already know people who can help you achieve whatever goal you decide on. Don't bother with the menial jobs you despise so much. Think hard. Somewhere along the line, you've met that one person who knows someone... who knows someone else. It worked for me every step of the way. Once you're set... don't be afraid to pick up the phone or ask for a meeting. I have found that deep-down people enjoy helping others; especially if they feel in some way responsible for your success. Flattery will get you everywhere.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 9:23 PM GMT
    DJ....

    Same boat here, well was! I felt the same EXACT way several years back; educated over and over again, never seeming to clinch that job/career. SO many different "careers" catch my eye and I go and give them all a try and for whatever reason did not work. Funny thing is I was still in San Diego, where I grew up, and I hit 30 years old and felt that my life's wheels were spinning and I was feeling VERY stagnant, professionally and personally; no growth in either! So, I packed it all up and changed my scenery, my environment and removed myself from my comfort zone. Now at 35 I JUST landed a position with a Company that is awesome, however I realize it's the industry that I actually like and want to be MORE involved in and grow and learn more about! Yes, I will need one more little certification to take that next step, but it's minor in the grand scheme of things. Now I'm not necessarily saying to pack it up, however NEW scenery and environment and exposure to new things, places and people seemed to have help guide me in the right direction. Hang in there, it's hard, it hurts, I know! I'm almost out of it and I can see the light at the end of that tunnel, TRUST me you will too!!!

    Rob
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    Aug 25, 2008 9:23 PM GMT
    When I was a younger man I went into therapy in Los Angeles because I was really worried that some of my more exotic sexual proclivities where going to get the better of me. I had a laundry list of things that I needed to fix about myself.

    My therapist was a brilliant guy (though most would have called him a complete quack - and did) really amazed me.

    He let me know that the most shocking thing in the world. I am so precious about my "gifts" and how different I am. He told me that I am just average for someone with my kind of creativity. He identified my problems as the normal problems that creative people grapple with.

    Jack, I love you dearly, but I have to say that the same rules apply to you. Do you think Merce Cunningham had a 401k and a health plan?

    Mind you, I am not saying those are bad things to have. However, they aren't your art. If you don't express your work it will kill you. Worse than that, it will kill you slowly, numbingly, and in the most sadistic way imaginable.

    If you try to pack up your dreams in a neat little box and put them in your attic they will bounce against the ceiling at night and keep you awake like "the Telltale Heart". What I am saying is that you ignore who you are at your peril.

    There isn't much choice but to accept the risks that go with your gifts, because you accepted the gifts that go with the risks. They are a matched set (like a tracksuit).

    You aren't conventional. You never will be conventional. All of your attempts to put your life onto conventional terms are just a waste of time, of energy, and of love.

    I am sure a lot of people wish you well. Doubtless you have plenty of free advice. However, you are the only one who can be authentic.

    These problems can be overcome (everyone who has succeeded in their art before you has done so). This is the price that your art requires that you pay.

    Is it worth it to you?

    Respectfully,
    Terry
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 10:10 PM GMT
    Jack,

    I've had seven different careers in my life, and I'm currently pursuing one I sort of abandoned back in the 80s. Now I make my living GIVING people career advice.

    If you want some, email me.

  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Aug 25, 2008 10:20 PM GMT
    Jack, this is going to sound harsh, but you have an attitude problem, and a serious one at that.

    Of course this is just my opinion, and I'm not saying this just to have a go at you.

    My findings are based on reading your posts over many months.

    If you can change your attitude, your life would change. I honestly believe it is your attitude that is hold you back.

    Mike
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 25, 2008 10:56 PM GMT
    Given my relative age, ahem, my advice means shit. I am, however, suffering from the same problem as you are so I am interested in what the other posters say.
    I think you should not think about anyone else, be true to yourself (I don't know how exactly), put on those figurative horse blinders, and move forward according to your own timetable/beat/whatever. I recently got kicked in the ass big-time, so this is what I'm working on so far.

    Now, off-topic:
    What on earth does Ursamajor mean by "...more exotic sexual proclivities...?"

  • auryn

    Posts: 2061

    Aug 25, 2008 10:58 PM GMT
    Try searching for "best US cities for technical writers" (without the quotes in the search engine bar, of course). You may, as has been mentioned, have to move. If you can find a place that will allow you to express your artistic side as well as letting you do the Technical Writing, then that would be ideal. However, you seem to be willing to make sacrifices in order to meet certain personal goals. What are they? (That's, of course, a rhetorical question since you've answered part of it.)

    You alone know what you're willing to put on hold while you accomplish a few goals. You have the knowledge and tools to make the best solution, so write down what you know (get it out of your head and in your face and keep it there until you can see the big picture). Then, you'll be ready to move forward with confidence.

    Good job asking for help, by the way.

    If anyone is a member of LinkedIn.com, maybe you can let him know if that's a good networking place for Jack.
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    Aug 25, 2008 11:02 PM GMT
    dancerjack said
    i have no direction. none. i feel completely lost and unmotivated.


    I know this feeling all too well. If you haven't yet, try going on a vacation FAR away from home, like where the culture is totally different. It may help you to unwind, compare and contrast your home and comfort with other places, and hopefully might help you get a clearer view on what you want to do. I know when I'm in my apt for too long, I become a couch potato and don't even realize how unmotivated I am until I get away for a long period of time and then come back to my place and I'm like "wtf is this shit what have I been doing???" lol

    Could you go into some sort of healing or recoup training? Do you think the area you live in is unmotivating? It could be the culture?
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Aug 25, 2008 11:09 PM GMT
    5537B00B saidNow, off-topic:
    What on earth does Ursamajor mean by "...more exotic sexual proclivities...?"



    He's got a one track mind. Ask him about hate sex icon_eek.gif