In search of the self

I turn twenty-nine this year, and as quickly as 2008 flew by, I know this year will, too. I have no progeny, and as of now I have not what is typically called a career. Then again how is a career defined? A post by John A. Cohen has me thinking about how it is perceived and defined by others. In his post he reveals his choice to enter law school despite being an “artist at heart,” to summarize. I think I’ve encountered enough vapid pop-culture psychobabble to differentiate a job from a career. The bit about a job being something that merely pays the bills and provides no fulfillment, tends to stand out. It is oversimplistic, though. The people, legendary but not mythical, that we hear about working two jobs to support their children, for example, may gain fulfillment from the fact that the children they brought into the world are fed and surviving. For some, survival is fulfillment. For others, those who have gone past survival, fulfillment means something else.

I do not have the heart of an artist, and my skills are above-average at best when it comes to my craft. I am a fiery debater and a passionate arguer, but I am a logician and a scientist from as long as I can remember. I find beauty in an elegantly simple explanation for an observation. As for passion, I have always been wary of the its very nature. While it drives us to do intensity, it can consume us as well.

I have done much pondering about what I want to do, or try to do. Right now I work in medical equipment sales, a job that allows me to afford my lifestyle, and pay off the debt that I incurred during my idiot phase. I am aware of my contribution to society as a result of my work for this company. The gadgets I offer save lives and prevent health crises. The nature of sales as an interpersonal dynamic between buyer and seller is quite close to that of teacher and student. The key in growing a business is establishing a lasting relationship with a buyer, which is the case especially in a manufacturing business. The problem face by retailers (resellers) like myself is that customer loyalty is a more challenging goal.

I mention this because higher education as a career choice has increased its appeal. It reflects my personal strengths and abilities, and I am able to meet the needs of personal advancement and the very human need to make a mark on society. Higher ed usually requires research, and, with a few changes in lifestyle, it is also an economical choice. Best of all, I like it.

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