So I have some news, and it’s probably going to freak my parents out a little bit…I decided to turn down the full-time job offer that I mentioned a few weeks ago.
The company is great, they treat their employees well, I got along well with everyone there–so why not take the job? Because it wasn’t helping me make progress toward my long-term goals, it wasn’t teaching me any new or useful skills, and it wasn’t in a field where I’d like to make a career. After weighing the benefits vs. the costs, especially the opportunity costs, it just didn’t make sense to stay.
I know what a lot of you might be thinking: “Dude, a job’s a job. In this economy, you should take it and count yourself lucky!” I reject that, though. Last year, I managed to cut my expenses to less than $950 per month. I’ve been saving up my paychecks, and I’ve got enough to float me for a couple of months until I find a job that fits better, hopefully part-time.
The big thing I’m worried about is whether I’m digging myself into a hole. Since graduating in April 2010, here are the jobs I’ve held:
- Conducting unsolicited phone interviews at a call center.
- Picking, packing, and shipping at a costume company warehouse.
- Delivering phone books from my car.
- Miscellaneous unskilled labor at a candy factory.
- Miscellaneous unskilled labor at an alarm company warehouse.
- Processing inventory and shipments at an alarm company warehouse.
So yeah, nothing all that great. I’ve been doing some volunteer stuff in the interim, though, especially with Leading Edge and the “class that wouldn’t die” article from last year. But in general, it feels like I’m getting stuck in a rut, and that the longer I stay stuck, the harder it’s going to be to break out.
What I really want is something that will expand my mind and/or give me another major cultural experience. That’s why I’m thinking seriously again about teaching English abroad. But grad school is definitely another attractive option, especially if it gives me a chance to work on my Arabic.
With that in mind, here are the options I’m considering right now:
- Travel to the Caucasus in January and volunteer teach English with the TLG program. It’s not particularly lucrative, but if I can balance my writing career on the side while having an awesome cultural experience in a region of the world that interests me, it might be perfect.
- Study Arabic and/or Middle Eastern Studies at a university in the Middle East, ideally AUB or AUC. I don’t really want to be a security analyst, but I would love to make a career as an Arabist of some sort–provided, of course, that I could balance it with my writing.
- Pursue a graduate degree in History, Anthropology, or Sociology in the United States. I’m less sure of this option, mainly because I don’t know if I’m passionate enough about any of those subjects to really succeed at them.
- Take a chance and travel to the Middle East to teach English. I’d probably go to Jordan or Oman, where I actually know people, but Egypt, Libya, or Tunisia might be good too, especially with the Arab Spring opening them up. It might also be dangerous…but hey, at least it’s an adventure.
- Finding a graveyard desk job, like night auditor at a hotel, and use that to support myself until the writing career start to take off. Even though this is the most boring option, it’s probably the most likely one I’ll follow…which probably isn’t a good thing.
The main goal, of course, is still to go full time with the writing career. That’s like the holy grail. I’m still optimistic about that; it’s just a matter of finding something useful to do in the interim. The last thing I want is to settle, or to get stuck in a comfort zone, or lose sight of my long term goals…
…I don’t know. I’m still figuring all this stuff out. But regardless, I just don’t think working full-time at an unskilled labor job is going to get me anywhere–and that’s an opportunity cost I can’t afford to take.