Wherein I Reconsider my Career Choices and Other Options

I don’t write about myself a lot. This is due to a lot of things, but today I’m feeling introspective, so, as with Newscoma’s Annoying Autobiographical Pauses, if you don’t want to read me writing about me, enjoy these stories about former Darwin Award winners.

I’m a 36 year old college drop out. I left college the first time almost exactly 16 years ago. The reasons aren’t really that important right now, but let’s just say that financial and personal problems led me to believe that college was no longer a priority for me.

I moved back home and began working odd jobs, I worked in Fast Food, and as a tuxedo inspector at one of the largest tux rental facilities in the US, and then, as a fulfillment manager at a local book publishing company. All three of these jobs occurred between 1993 and 1995.

Somewhere in 1994 I met up with some kindred spirits in the theater world, this led to an 8 year working relationship that eventually brought me into the industry that I now work in. I opened a business with one member of that troupe, and wrote and performed in all kinds of productions. There were a lot of good things in that time that engaged me personally, and helped make me who I am today, but the abject poverty that I experienced at that time eventually became too much to bear. By the end of the 90’s I had decided that poverty just wasn’t working for me, so I took a job in the event production industry, which is the industry I work in today.

As with any job, there are trade-offs. I find myself out of town for long stretches of time, which puts pressure on relationships of all kinds, and makes it difficult for me to be involved in many of the civic activities that I was involved in during my more impoverished days. On the flip side, I’ve been able to buy a home, and live a fairly comfortable, even slackful life when I am at home. Because my “office” is someplace new nearly every week, there are few of the long term, or deep seeded internal struggles that make up many work environments.

Now, some ten years into this career, I’m starting to question what I’m missing. I’ve lived in Memphis for nearly 4 and a half years, and in many ways, still feel like an alien. Part of this comes from the logistical challenges of cultivating new friendships while maintaining a schedule that keeps me out of town some 200+ days a year. Part of it comes from the cliquish nature of Memphis. Still another part comes from having the social graces of a wood chipper.

I like what I do, by and large, but I don’t like not being able to immerse myself in the local political culture, warts and all. Despite my long-term fascination with politics, I haven’t found myself to be any more or less jaded than most people. I believe that, while some may involve themselves in politics for personal gain, that most people get involved because they feel they can have a positive impact. I still believe in the positive potential of political involvement and activism, and that is, in large part why I write this blog. If I can’t be here, perhaps I can, at least, add something to the conversation.

So now I want to be here more. I want to get physically involved in the process. My intellectual involvement, but physical detachment from local politics is no longer satisfying my desire to try and make a difference in the community. I want to get down in the trenches…there’s just this one problem; how do I do that, and maintain a travel schedule that I can barely keep up with? Or, if I ditch much of my travel work, how do I maintain even a portion of the financial security that I’ve worked for the past 10 years to achieve?

It seems like a Catch 22 that makes me nervous.

So, I don’t guess I’m writing this for any kind of advice or anything, but to flesh out the balance between what my wallet, brain and heart think I should do. All three of these “internal entities” are in varying degrees of conflict, to a point that I may just have to do something, and deal with the consequences, or do nothing, and enjoy the financial gains, while feeling that my desire to be a part of building transformative change here in Memphis is hamstrung by my inability to fully integrate word and deed.

Anyway, if you managed to read this “poor little rich boy” (I am by no means rich) story and not make a mocking tiny violin gesture in my general direction, I guess you’re either sympathetic, or not used to mocking people nearly enough. I would be mocking the hell out of me right now if this weren’t bugging me so much. So yeah, that’s it. Thanks for dragging yourself through my miniature string quartet of self-pity. Have a good Halloween.

7 thoughts

  1. Thanks Auto,

    That’s what I hope to achieve in the coming months, but that doesn’t quell some of the anxiety, or the feeling that I’m not doing enough.

    It’s a particularly interesting balance, especially considering the weirdness of my schedule.

    So far, the beginning of next year looks good, but that could change at a moment’s notice. I have to find the courage to turn down some things so I can be more directly involved and hope that I don’t “shit where I eat” and lose even more business down the line.

  2. I have read that staging political events is almost a year-round job these days, but that will keep you on the road just as much.

    I don’t see how you can have it all in terms of merging your interests and skills, and staying around this town, where the opportunities to make a difference are few and far between.

    In your shoes, I think I’d relocate to D.C., L.A., or the Apple.

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