Addendum to the Goal
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 12:16AM
J Starr Welty in Writing, career, dreams, jobs, youth

   It's easy enough as a teenager or twenty-something to say that a main concern in life is to "do what I want in a career that will make me the most content".  It is a noble want and definitely seems much more practical than, say, wanting to be a millionaire or be famous.  Put up against the desire to make good money and have a stable job, however, the choice becomes a little more difficult, but not so much at an early age. 

    It's not even a matter of work, so laziness does not play in here.  To establish a career as a writer, for example (and I'm going to continue using writing as an example because, well, this is a writing blog after all) takes a tremendous amount of work.  There's not only the time to write the material, but to market yourself and attempt to connect with publishers...the outcome of which is not guaranteed no matter how diligently you try.  (I've argued the statistics on this with many.  If you aren't working among all the variables that will produce publishing success then it will not happen no matter how many times you submit, so sometimes you can't say "Keep trying!  It's bound to happen someday!".  And it may have nothing to do with quality.  The same, I'm sure, can be said of any art which is why some masterpieces only became known after the unfortunate artist died.  Ugh!)

   Alot of times the choice to do what we want while young stems from witnessing those who are older as they look back on their lives with regret.  So many evaluate their present careers which may or may not be producing enough to keep them financially stable (or more so), but don't seem to be keeping them emotionally and spiritually fulfilled.  Some may think, "What if I had continued with my dream of becoming a rock star?" or an actress, or screenwriter, etc. etc.  They may think success would have befallen them in that career, or maybe at least that they would have been more fulfilled.  Heck, sometimes people abandon their current careers and pursue the dreams they left behind.  A few do so with hopes that are too high (ie- I'll become the next Michael Jackson), but most who do so in the middle age are quite a bit more humble and take it on as either a hobby or something a bit more down to earth (ie- opening a modest restaurant to start rather than being the next Gordon Ramsay).  I personally remember, though, remarking on this particular regret and vowing to never experience it.  Thus my own personal choice to pursue a writing career while working retail jobs that allowed the freedom to do so. 

    It's easy enough to continue this lifestyle for a while, and some can maintain it for their entire lives.  What passion fulfills us is definitely worth alot, but sometimes many of us who made this decision do not end up obtaining the "American Dream".  We aren't the rock stars or Stephen Kings.  We make choices that keep us within our own moral boundaries, but sacrifice opportunity, and others that open doors to exceptional experiences, but may pull us back financially.  Not having this ideal "American Dream" may make some feel like failures.  Others may not care at all, for they're doing what they love.  Regardless, there is one thing that beckons to everyone at some point or another, and it has nothing to do with stardom.  It even has little to do with success on a broad level.  It's all about financial stability.

   On my own personal level, I was fine with what I earned in retail for years.  In my early twenties, earning anything above minimum wage was fantastic.  It meant I was exceptional.  If I got a dollar above it...Holy crap!  I was living the high life!  Obviously I had no understanding of economics at all.  (What they don't teach you in school: wage comparison and what income is allocated for.)  Of course, I didn't really need money for much.  I shared an apartment.  I didn't get sick much.  (Who needs health insurance?!  I'll just cross my fingers that nothing happens to me.)  I didn't get much time off, so vacations were out of the question.  I didn't have children.  Savings account?  (I still ask, "Wtf is that for?".)  And debt...well...I just figured that since I had no kids it would just poof! into oblivion when I died. 

   That, however, was in my early twenties.  Later on when I started watching my friends buy houses, multiple cars, go on expensive trips, buy tons of new shit...then I started thinking, "Hmmm.  Maybe this starving artist lifestyle isn't so great after all.".  A couple of years of financial crises later and I really started re-evaluating my situation.  I started thinking a few very pertitent things like, "I really enjoy having functional teeth.", "It's great having a reliable vehicle.", "I am getting tired of hearing my apt. neighbor's singing in the shower at 6am.", "It would be nice to afford new furniture instead of always having to get hand-me-downs.", "Why is everyone telling me I'm too skinny?", "I'd like to not have to save up to go to the movies.", and most importantly, "I'm just pretty damn sick of dead-end retail jobs.".  Now some people may enjoy the starving artist lifestyle.  More power to them.  It's really not for me, though.  I'd like to not have to take out a loan to pay for a root canal and crown...and new tires for my car.  That kind of sucks in my book. 

  So although the initial dream of doing what would fulfill me sounded great, and it was, there was an additional part to that dream that didn't fulfill.  It was the actual job part.  I might not be a famous author, but I'm still working at the writing part.  Zurigan's Child is an ebook, and I've just submitted the form to Ligntning Source that they have to approve so I can get it available in physical format without having to spend thousands of dollars.  The only thing I'm changing is the second part that I discovered I was so unhappy with.  That, unfortunately, involves the arduous task of going back to college for a degree in Biology.  Then there's an even more arduous task of grad school for a more specific degree in...well...I'm still trying to decide.  It'll have something to do with genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, and/or neurology.  I've got a bit of time.  Maybe a year before I'm no longer an undergrad anymore. 

  Either way I'll have a different "real job" in the end.  Maybe then I can get better dental care.  Or maybe I'll just go to dental school instead and do my own damn teeth. 

Article originally appeared on Author J Starr Welty (
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