Every morning, when I get out of bed, I feel a little like it's my first day of my senior year of high school. Again. Because for the second time in my life, I need to start thinking seriously about my future and what I'm going to do with it. This hiatus overseas isn't going to last forever, and possibly only for another six months or so, so graduation is approaching.
When I was seventeen years old and in a similar position, I didn't know what I was doing. I impulsively dropped Chemistry 30 three days into the new school year, and discarded the thoughts that I was entertaining of going to medical school (pre-med required Biology 30, Physics 30, and Chemistry 30) and being a trauma surgeon. Med school didn't seem like much of a life.
When I was eighteen, I sat in a large lecture theatre in the Education Building at the University of Alberta, listening to my Foundations of Canadian Education 101 professor carry on about pedagogy and feminism, phonics and whole language, and felt disappointed and uninspired. By October, I'd dropped all of my education-related courses for the next semester and replaced them with introductory economics and mathematics, bent on transferring faculties as soon as I possibly could.
When I was nineteen years old, I realized that accounting was not going to be for me, despite all of the articling jobs that appeared in the Edmonton Journal week after week, endlessly. This time, I did find something to study that was both quirky and fascinating, so I didn't have to figure out how to re-define myself again.
When I was twenty-three years old, I earned a Master's degree in that somewhat obscure little field that I'd discovered and fallen hard for when I was nineteen. I had my first "real" job about eight (very long - just ask my husband) weeks later, but it wasn't really in that field at all. I'd just acquired some skills in undergrad, like being able to make Excel do crazy things, that I could transfer.
And then Madeline happened, and our move to St. John's, and our move to Bangkok, and our move to Saigon. It doesn't actually feel like the seven-and-a-half-years hiatus that it's been.
But that's what it's been. I've been curious about what companies would do with me and what will be my at-least-eight-years gap. When I ask Chris if my resume would get through HR and ever land on his desk, he kind of avoids answering me. It's kind of sweet, though. When I asked my dad the same thing this summer, he kind of winced before telling me that no, applicants with my gap wouldn't even get a second glance.
So, what to do? Unlike when I was eighteen and finally free of the dirge that was high school, I have three people counting on me now. Two of them think that the best thing that I've ever done is wrap them in soft towels after their baths and hold them in my arms until their sobs die down, but the third holds me to a higher level of accountability. Does that mean that I pay attention to the things that are turning my head, like urban planning, statistics, comparative literature, and gender studies, or does that mean that I collect a paycheque for carding the masses passing through a Costco Wholesale in Calgary because its a less painful choice for my family? And only kind of, at that?
I think about this stuff way too much for something that makes my stomache hurt and irritates my psoriasis, and I can't even pretend to myself that I'm not thinking about it. I'm stuck, though, and maybe it's the lack of forward progress that is the most frustrating thing of all.