What’s next?


in Daily updates, Toronto

The need to make a decision about school is approaching quickly, and I am feeling uncertain about it.

Indirectly, my experience in Toronto since September is cause for some humility. It hasn’t been at all as I expected it to be. This shows that I have a limited ability to correctly guess what the consequences of big choices will be, even in very general terms. It’s hard not to feel a bit unmoored as a result of that, especially when trying to make a choice with five or more years of direct consequences and lifelong indirect ones.

It has been clear for years that what I am doing now isn’t working. It won’t lead to the kind of life that will be satisfying for me, or a good use of whatever eclectic combination of abilities I possess. I do remember feeling more directed and less aimless while in school. Perhaps those feelings will return if I go back for a doctorate.

I suppose the choice really isn’t so difficult. Continuing with what I have been doing isn’t possible. My attempts to find a climate-related job were singularly unsuccessful. By process of elimination, school is the obvious remaining candidate. Still, I wish I felt more confidence about it.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan March 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Alternately, you could spend some time immersed in nature and see what happens. Take some time away from urban areas and see what comes to mind. The results may be surprising.

Milan March 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm

There is certainly some appeal in taking some time away from work / school.

That being acknowledged, there is a larger worry that if I leave for any length of time, it will be even harder to find something meaningful to do after.

Ryan March 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm

It has been my experience that people remain fully capable of working and accomplishing meaningful things away from urban areas.

Of course I don’t mean to be argumentative. I am worried that you’re too worried, though.

Milan March 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I am sure people accomplish all sorts of meaningful things outside of urban areas. I just don’t think I would, particularly. It’s wonderful to be immersed in nature sometimes, but I am definitely a city person. I have never even managed to keep a houseplant alive for more than a couple of weeks.

Byron Smith March 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I too ended up in postgraduate studies through a process of elimination, though I’m also aware that compared with other kinds of study, PhD research is much lonelier and thus requires higher levels of personal motivation. Even if doing a PhD is simply the last serious option standing, it may be worth doing some thinking about what you hope to achieve by pursuing it, since I can almost guarantee there will be dark times when you’ll need to have a clear idea of why you have jumped into this pit. I know you’ve already done some of this (and finding a topic that really energises you is crucial), but I thought it might be worth repeating.

Zoom March 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I’m thinking too that it might be time to step back for a bit and see what kind of opportunities present themselves when you’re not looking quite so earnestly for the correct path. You’re young and smart and you probably have a very long and successful future ahead of you. No need to force any major life decisions.

Travel, drift, explore, be open to possibilities you haven’t even considered considering. I’m pretty sure you’ll never regret it.

Milan March 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Time off won’t help us avoid cooking the climate. Opportunities tend to emerge from activity, not tranquility.

Zoom March 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I’m not suggesting a permanent time-out. Just a temporary one, to give yourself time to ponder the options and come to a firmer decision about what path you want to commit yourself to.

Anon March 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I strongly advise you against “taking a break.”

Everything is so competitive these days, young people cannot afford to relax.

NEET is an acronym you should know – “not in education, employment, or training”

Its not a good thing for a young person to be

Anon March 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

My advise: even if you don’t feel totally sure about going back to school, pretend you are super enthusiastic about it.

Act as if you have faith and faith will be given to you!

Milan April 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Toronto is inescapably ugly, but it seems true to say that most people out here seem to be applying themselves energetically to their various projects. This seems to be a city for people who are serious about their work, and who are not content to simply watch history unfolding around them.

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