>Hi, my name is Suzanne. I am 30 years old and I do not know what I want to do “when I grow up.” People, like career counselors and other assorted people who tell other people what do to for a living for a living, always say that you should do what you are good at and what you enjoy. I am good at complaining, and I enjoy it. However, I am not sure that I can make a career out of that.
Oh, I used to know exactly what I wanted to do for a living. As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, my lifelong impulse has been to do things to improve the lives of marginalized populations, a.k.a. “help people.” When I was in junior high, L.A. Law was my fave show. I wanted to be a prosecutor just like Susan Dey. I truly believed that I could help people by locking up those who menace innocent regular folks. I was also intrigued by public interest attorneys who worked on children’s rights issues and welfare law. Now that is helping people, one at a time.
In college, I had an internship in Illinois State government. I worked there two summers, and witnessed the creation and passage of a new subsidy program to help working families and kids. Public policy seemed to be a much more effective way to help people than public interest law, and I was hooked. I dropped out of law school after two days when I figured out that my heart was not in it any more. (This was one of the three best decisions I ever made. I highly encourage others to do the same if they find that they really are not sure that law is right for them.)
I have a Masters in Public Policy and Administration, and nine years of working for families and kids under my belt. I’m good at public policy. I have helped a lot of kids. Yet public policy is no solution in the end. Partisan idiots never do the right thing, and not enough kids get the services that they deserve. On top of that, every asshole on the planet thinks that he or she is somehow an expert, although few of them have any experience or education that can back them up. Somehow, these fucks are the people who wind up influencing policy, not those of us who actually know what we are talking about. Throw in bureaucratic ineptitude and institutionalized stupidity, and working to help people does not make me happy. It only makes me extremely frustrated and angry because I know things could be done more efficiently and kids could get more. I also know that people pretend to care about kids because it looks good, but in reality they couldn’t care less if they tried.
I enjoy my attempts to write humorous and nasty little stories. However, I have noticed that only a select few share my sense of humor and interests. This does not strike me as leading to a viable career path. Plus, I crave social contact, and cannot imagine working by myself at home every day.
Once in a while, I consider a job as a freak in a circus sideshow, but I think I would miss my family and friends too much since I would always be traveling. I like baked goods, but I do not think I can work in a bakery because 1) I’d eat too much; 2) I hate actually cooking; and 3) my one attempt to work in food service (as the attendant in a half-way house on a country club golf course serving sandwiches, hot dogs, and beverages to rich people) did not go very well. Most service jobs are also out of the question because I am not very good at ringing things up properly. (Learned from past experience at a Sherwin Williams paint store, a small stationary and paper supply store, and at Blockbuster, a job I did love but was about to be fired from because my register was off by more than $3 three times.) Sometimes I think I would like working in a craft store (of which there are not many in Manhattan) or Home Depot, but then I get annoyed that I would be wasting my degree, and I’d feel guilty about taking a job that someone else really needs when I could be doing other things that they might not be able to.
I did apply to be a fruit and vegetable market reporter for the FDA about two years ago, and while the Government Services Administration deemed me to be very qualified, they never called. This is probably good because the job involved being at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx by 5 am. I am not sure I could get up at 3:30 am five days a week or that taking the subway to the Bronx by myself at 4:15 am would be terribly smart (although probably fine).
My favorite random job in high school also does not lead to any future career potential. I was the helper at a tiny Jungian psychology publishing company. I processed orders (at the time, they did not have a computer, so I typed invoices on triplicate forms, and had poor typing skills, so by the time I corrected everything it was impossible to read on the yellow and pink forms, which unfortunately the customer copies), packed up books, and arranged for shipping either via UPS (pick up was at the pharmacy downstairs) or post office (stamps were also purchased downstairs at the pharmacy). The office manager was very nice, but also not the brightest bulb in the bunch. (Once I asked her to get more 10 cent stamps and she came back excited that she got a good deal – a 100 stamps for only $1! I pointed out that they were only a buck because she bought 100 1 cent stamps.) When I had large orders, I would scrounge for boxes in the back of the pharmacy. I really liked using tampon, diaper, or adult diaper boxes. After the San Francisco Jungian Society complained that they did not like getting books in Tampax Tampon boxes, I was not allowed to do so any more. Still, those were good times.
Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions for me, I am all ears.