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By Eric

I started a new job this week. A job that is the furthest possible thing from a career. A job that isn’t even a step towards a career. A job that is the epitome of temporary. A job that is just a job.

The reality is that for most people a job is just a job. It’s rare that you stumble across the person who legitimately loves what they do. Some people like what they do, some people hate what they do, and some just do what they do.

As a 23-year-old, over-analyzing my job history is a tad ridiculous. I don’t have much experience, and what experience I do have amounts to absolutely nothing I would ever consider as a career. (Especially the four summers I spent, for all intents and purposes, as a garbage man.)

Trying to decipher what exactly having a “career” means, is the hardest thing for me. It’s something that gets wrapped up in my mind as an entire lifestyle: Job. Wife. Kids. Picket fence. Dog. Bills. Grocery shopping. Little League. Dance recitals. Neighbors. You know, the whole “real world” shebang.

Maybe it’s because I’m not mentally prepared for anything on that list (my last trip to the grocery store resulted in me returning with mayonnaise, green tea, and Scooby Doo Macaroni and Cheese) that I can’t stand the thought of a career right now. Or, maybe I’m being unfair to the entire notion of employment.

If someone were to say to me, “wait, aren’t you just avoiding responsibilities?” the short answer would be, “yes.”

The long answer, however, goes much deeper than that. I’m not irresponsible. In fact, to be frank, I am one of the more responsible people I know. I’m quite confident that I could do most jobs (within reason) and do them well. I’m also quite confident that I would be completely miserable doing those jobs.

When I graduated from college and began searching for work, I half-heartedly sifted through full- time entry level positions. When I stumbled upon a temporary internship that gave no allusion of leading to a long-term job commitment, I couldn’t have been happier. Whereas most people approach an internship as a potential means for future employment with a company, I approached it as a temporary resume builder – which is exactly what I wanted.

Upon moving on from that job, I began searching primarily for temporary work. With the holidays coming up, everyone is looking for extra work during the busy shopping months. Again, I took a temporary position – one that will last through December (although, less for resume-building this time).

It’s easy to look at what I am doing as a fear of commitment, but that isn’t what it is. I’m not afraid to commit. Am I afraid of what is going to happen next? Of course. But I’m not afraid of commitment.

The fact is, I don’t know what I want out of life yet, and as I watch some of my peers pretend to know what they want, I become even more aware of this fact. As I watch people around me get engaged, get a “real” job, and begin planning the rest of their lives, I wonder how they can possibly be so sure of what they are doing. The reality is that they probably aren’t. They’re probably just as lost as I am.

I don’t legitimately know what my goals are yet. I have ideas. I have twinges of desire for a certain life, but I don’t really know what I want.

Maybe I’m scared. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m making the wrong choices. But I don’t have to be confident in what I am doing, to be confident in knowing that I will figure it out.

Odds are, someday I will have a wife and kids. Someday I will have responsibilities that are bigger and more important than me. And if and when that day arrives, I know my choices will be different, because my choices won’t involve “me,” it will involve “us.”

Right now, it’s just me. I’m my responsibility. So for now, I have just one goal: figuring out what my goals are.

By Eric

I’m an English major who hates poetry, thinks Faulkner is annoying and pretentious, and likes sports too much. What does that make me?

I believe in God, but I don’t really know what that means and certainly have no church or religious affiliation I consider myself a part of. What does that make me?

I’ve never had anything remotely resembling a serious relationship, but I spend exactly none of my time in bars or clubs looking to get laid. What does that make me?

I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life, but would hesitate to call myself a Democrat. What does that make me?

I have a small head, long arms, long legs, and a short torso. What does that make me?

My answer to most of those questions is, “I don’t really know.” I suppose, in a kindergarten, after-school-special sort of way, it’s all part of what makes me me. Whatever that means. Just like if you’re Republican who spends your Saturday nights looking to hookup and your Sundays at church, that’s part of what makes you you.

There is a supposed qualitative rightness and wrongness in those descriptions of who you are. An either/or. It’s silly, really. Those simplistic descriptions of where you go, what you do, or what you believe are only snippets of a full picture. Summarily those little descriptions can tell you who someone is, but there are literally an infinite number of descriptions of a person. So many, in fact, that the only person who will ever really, truly know who you are is you.

To some people, the realization that you have to know yourself is probably the most frightening realization in the world. I, for one, take comfort in it. Nobody knows me like me. And I’m not even particularly complex. I’m fairly simple, in fact. But if there is one thing I have, it’s a pretty good grasp of myself, even on days when I have no idea who the hell I am or what the hell I am doing.

And there are a lot of days like that. Days where I sit back and try and assess the success of my life, and think, “wow, I really haven’t done much, eh?”

When I look at the criteria people use to “rate” people’s life: where do you work? (nowhere) seeing anyone? (nope) what did you do this weekend? (nothin’) it would seem my life can be summarized by the nothingness that clearly encompasses it. And sometimes it really does feel that way. But, ultimately, that isn’t true. I’m quite sure of it. Because, ultimately, I know myself.

It is easy to get caught up in what is missing from your life, and certainly much easier than appreciating what you do have, as corny as that sounds. Nobody wants to listen to a guy from an upper middle class family with a college degree talk about the things that are missing from his life, because “the world is his oyster,” so-to-speak.

Sure it may be “hard out there right now,” but anyone with such a well balanced background will obviously figure things out eventually. Things work out. Take a little time to figure out what you want (just don’t take TOO much time), and then I’ll see ya in Suburbia.

From there it’s easy to get caught up in trying to map out the rest of your life. In her Unhooked and Unsettled column, Nicolle wrote about people getting married because they want the rest of their life to start right away. That idea can extend beyond just marriage and into every facet your life.

Graduate. Find a job. Get married. Buy a house. Start a family. Raise a family. Retire. Die living a fulfilled life.

The American Dream.

Maybe you do live that life and it makes you happy. Or maybe you chose to live it because you thought it would make you happy. Or maybe it just filled a gap because you never really took the time to figure out yourself. And then one day you realize you and yourself were merely acquaintances. You met each other, but you never really knew each other.  You never really quite figured out what each other wanted, so you filled your life with what you were supposed to want.

It’s easy to get caught up in it. One day a dream transitioned into reality and the rest of your life arrived. And maybe you were ready for it. Or maybe you weren’t but went with it anyway.

You let your life transition away from what you really want as you move through the motions of the future.

First you dream about the future, then you worry about the future, and then, before you know it, the future arrives. So you get left with a choice. You can either convince yourself that you want the rest of your life to arrive, jump on board and go from there. Or, you can do something different.

You can start the process over because, quite simply, you aren’t quite ready for a future yet. You don’t want the rest of your life to start, because you have the rest of your life for the rest of your life.

That’s where I stand today. Maybe that will change tomorrow. Maybe I’ll meet “the one” and elope. Maybe I’ll stumble across the perfect job opportunity. Maybe I’ll win the lottery, move to San Diego and open a golf course.

Maybe, but probably not.

One day the rest of my life will begin. More likely than not, it won’t be tomorrow. More likely than not, tomorrow will be just like today. Just like most tomorrows. Until that one tomorrow comes that changes everything. But until then, I’ll keep figuring out myself.

So who am I?

I guess I’m just a liberal blasphemer with a small head, long arms, long legs, and a small torso who never gets laid and brings a certain level of shame to the traditional English major.

Who are you?