I had a few conversations/emails about my last blog entry, which was unusual, so I’d like to expound on the subject a bit more.
In my last blog entry I discussed being our household’s secondary income. I focused primarily on looking at what benefits our household gains by having me working primarily from home and with flexible hours. I did this in the context of the occasional feelings of guilt I had experienced over being the secondary income, especially in the wake of the decision to spend three more years in graduate school pursuing an MFA. Ultimately, by being aware of the benefits we gain and by being aware of what we value and want out of life, I’ve overcome that guilt for the most part.
Something I didn’t clarify, which I’d like to do, is that I’m not thinking about this in terms of gender norms. When I say that I occasionally felt guilt about our disproportionate income, instead I meant guilt over not contributing equally to our finances as half of a 30ish-year-old couple. It’s also a little more than that – there’s the guilt of knowing that if Carolina has any feelings about dissatisfaction with her particular job or a desire to go back to school, that she is obligated to place those feelings on hold (to a certain extent) for the seven years that will make up me finishing my BA and getting my MA and now MFA. So, inequality over finances, inequality over opportunities and freedom.
Another thing that I didn’t really explore (but did mention) is the idea of transitioning from IT to academia, and more specifically transitioning from the expected salary path of IT versus academic work (especially in light of having had ~5 years of IT experience for the former and choosing to go through ~7 years of grad school for the latter). This transition is something that I’ve more than accepted, though. As I mentioned in the last post, happiness has a cost associated with it, and with that in mind, I’m well in the black.
I first went to undergrad at 16. I wasn’t ready for it, I didn’t do well, I was dealing with other stuff in my life that stopped me from really taking advantage of my time there. The same goes for my second and third years, at 18 and 19 respectively. It wasn’t until I had grown up a little and went back to school that I was able to experience the joy that learning and being a part of a learning community can bring. Growing up, I loved school, and it wasn’t until school became about things other than learning in upper middle and high school that I started having problems (for more on this, see “A Gifted Education”).
There’s a lot of factors at play, though. I remember reading a discussion about the executive that quit his job and started the Cambodian Children’s Fund. Someone in the discussion pointed out that if the guy really wanted to do the most good for the nonprofit, he could’ve stayed at his job as an executive and made more money with which to fund the organization’s efforts. I see similar thoughts from people who want to pursue the most lucrative careers in order to retire early–essentially, people who view a job or a career as little more than a paycheck. The truth, of course, is something a little bit deeper. Journey, outweighing the end goal and all that. There’s also an element of trying to live in the present, as we can’t account for the future.
In the end, I guess you could sum up this thought exercise with me having done a post-mortem analysis of my transition into academia as part of my decision to sign up for three more years of grad school, and I’ve found the pros vastly outweighing the cons.
Outside Reading/Further Thoughts: Last year when CNBC ignited a firestorm among angry bloggers by putting University Professor at the top of a clickbait slideshow entitled “The 10 Least Stressful Jobs for 2013,” (not directly linking as it’s got no substance) people were quick to point out how being expected to love your job came at a cost. I won’t point out any specifics, but you should peruse some of them. I guess I’m hurting the cause, in my case. Doubly so, as I also write stuff that gets published without being paid for it. That’s a discussion for later, as I haven’t entirely wrapped my head around how I feel about it. Here’s an article that covers some of it, though.