I've been having a bit of an existential crisis lately. I have zero (and I mean zero) idea what I want to do with my life. I'm good at a wide variety of things, I love a lot of things, but there isn't a singular thing that objectively grabs at me above all the others. I usually love a job for the first month or two and then I slowly started hating it for one reason or another. Consequentially, I jump from thing to thing, job to job, trying to find something that I fall in love with.
I majored in linguistics & philosophy in college with a focus on French & Arabic. Then, I started doing a post-bacc in physics/astronomy because I was convinced I wanted to switch. That's where I am now, preparing to apply to a fucking ridiculously competitive master's program (50 applicants, 2 slots). If I don't get in, which is very likely, I don't know what to do. I don't even know if I truly want the program. I left linguistics because my job options were basically government or military. I have zero desire to do either of those things. I love language, I love literature and poetry, but I don't want to translate documents of national security importance. I also didn't get any feeling of truly furthering human progress or helping people. I was a model student though. Great GPA, all the honors/awards/whatever. I'm good at school, I guess.
Now, I don't know if I want to keep pursuing astrophysics. I can't tell if it's the structure of the classes (massive lectures taught by bored, uninspired professors, lots of ego, sexism, etc.), or if I really don't want it. Academia is a vicious circle of stress fueling progress fueling stress fueling progress, and I'm exhausted. I've devoted 70% of my years on this planet to school, and I'm a huge overachiever, so that means 70% of my life has been sleepless nights, stress, and anxiety. I love space, I really do. I love the night sky. I love galaxies. I enjoy facets of the research, but there's a very good chance that I won't get in to the master's program (99.96% chance). If I don't get in, I may have to get another bachelor's (STRESS). We're poor. I can't afford not to work.
I've worked a variety of jobs, and disliked them for various reasons.
- I worked as a paralegal/office manager. I loved the organization, managing the office, keeping the lawyer organized. Hated the fact I was treated as a secretary, I didn't feel any progress or like I was contributing to something meaningful. I don't want to be a lawyer. I don't care about law.
- I worked as a line cook and a baker. I loved the adrenaline rush (it got me out of bed in the morning), the physical intensity of the work. I love, love, love food. I didn't like the misogyny, being surrounded by people that were generally uneducated/crude/drug addicts or alcoholics. I didn't like the way bosses treated you. Also, the pay and hours sucked.
- I worked as a teaching assistant and tutor. I like teaching kids, but I hate the bureaucracy of public school. I currently tutor and I like it. It pays the bills, but it's not stable. I don't want to do it for the rest of my life. I get to give back, but I get no fulfillment really or personal happiness from it.
- I worked as a research assistant in the field of astrophysics. I liked the work a lot, but it seemed like everyone was disorganized. Professors treat you like shit/look down on you. Lots of sexism. I loved the feeling of pursuing real research questions and making progress. I miss a physicality to the work. A lot of is drone, cubicle worker type stuff. But then you get to connect your work to vast, powerful processes and incredible natural phenomena:
I don't know what to do, GT. I don't even know where to start. There's no magic test to tell me what will make me happy or what I should do. Mr. Astrophy tells me I should be a farmer because of how much I love urban farming. I've always wanted to keep bees. The physicality of the work plus my love of being outdoors sounds amazing. Until I'm 100% recovered from my surgery, I can't consider it though. Plus, you make like no money, and you don't have benefits/retirement/etc. Mr. Astrophy is a cook, so he's not going to make a lot of money. I feel a lot of pressure to be The Moneymaker.
This crisis is more than just a passing anxiety. I'm becoming seriously depressed because of it. I'm losing interest in my classes. I'm exhausted. I'm tired of working and having homework and having class and barely scraping by to pay our bills while we accrue more and more medical bills, debt, etc. Help, GT! What do I do!?