Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Why I don't know what I'd like to do now I'm grown up
Ross Brown is back with his fortnightly blog. Very interesting one. Why don't you let us know what you want to do now that you are 'grown up'
We are asked at the ages of 16 or 17 to make a decisive step towards answering ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ Often, the choice made by a teenager as to what interests him / her academically is based on wild speculation without solid evidence. If we are expected to make an arbitrary decision at the ages of 16 or 17, then surely the question 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' is now redundant. Yet it's not. I don't know what I'd like to do when I grow up and I am now, in society's terms, grown up.
Work experience is useful for those who are sufficiently driven from a young age. Internships are similarly helpful in shedding at least some light on the reality of a certain career. I have very limited experience of either of these opportunities; even if I had, they wouldn't have sufficiently exposed me to the rigours of that profession. For that reason, we can only speculate as to whether a career may be what we'd like to do for the rest of our lives. This judgement can be made on the basis of some obvious justifications:
· pursuit of wealth
· feeling that you may like it
· you think you're good at it
· wanting to help people
· trying to make someone else happy
· seeking to impress people
· inexplicable compulsion
· the invisible people told you to
From what I can see, none of these motivations are terribly watertight. In a life devoid of certainty, surely the happiness of ourselves and those around us are two things to which we can attach some conviction as to their importance. Chasing money may make some aspects of life simpler, yet it doesn't guarantee contentment. Doing something on the basis that it may turn out to be good is understandable, but it's by no means secure. Basing a decision on being good at something is possibly the best indicator of uncertainty: 'I think I'm good at it, so I should probably make use of it'. Wishing to help people and trying to make someone else happy are admirable motivations, yet they’re questionable in terms of their potential future outcomes. Seeking to impress people is an incredibly vacuous if understandable reason to do anything. Inexplicable compulsion and obligation are similar in that they offer little by way of choice; they don’t actually answer the question 'what do you want to do for a living?' Finally, that the invisible people told you to do it is probably the best justification: our motivations are often shaped by what some invisible source of knowledge decided was correct and worthwhile.
I’m not terribly sure what I’d like to do now that I’m grown up. I’m not certain about anything, really. In enjoying this internship, I’m hoping my preferences will become clearer…but what if things only get murkier?