An Age Old Dilemma for the Creative People

   Excuse me while I brain dump for a bit. If I can't do that on my own blog every once in a while (more often than not) then what is the point? Enjoy my ramble... or don't.

   I've been thinking a lot about what direction I am taking my life and career goals. At the moment I am sitting at my post as a security guard with absolutely no one in sight and nothing to do for 12 hours on a weekend.

   I am not too far from 30, and looking back I am not too sure I ever had a plan for where I would be at that age. I did have a rough image in my head though. What that image entailed I am not too sure anymore but I do know that I thought things would be a bit different. That's not too abnormal I realize, but allow me to explain.

   I am not pushing 30 yet. I will be 25 this year but 5 years really isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things. Taking that all into account I started looking at where I am right now as far as career goals are concerned. For one I am still in school. If all goes according to plan I will still be in school for two years. So I will graduate at 27 more or less which is the first thing I did not imagine for myself.

   Some people may hear that I am graduating at 27 and think, "Well that's not a big deal," and I'd be inclined to agree. But sitting next to a person who is 19 and taking the same class is a bit unnerving for sure. It's not a huge thing for me but still something I think about. I know for sure that when I saw myself at this age, I was surely not in school. That's part of my dilemma. When I graduated high school I had no plans to go to college. I knew that my skills were skills that really didn't require a degree. Things like programming, photography, writing, etc. are skills that either come naturally or are learned through doing and less by being taught. I have always been one to teach myself rather than be taught. I just learn better that way somehow so I never saw a lot of value in a degree. Because of that, I didn't start college until late and I only did so because I found out I needed a degree to work abroad. Although I couldn't put it into words when I was 18, I knew I was a freelance sort of person. Which brings me to the main point of this brain dump.

   Don't get me wrong throughout any of this. I value work completely. I am not above it and I don't think anyone should feel that they are. But what kind of work people are more inclined to do is completely subjective. There is nothing wrong with being inclined to doing a plumber's labor just as there isn't anything wrong with being a doctor. In fact the U.S. has sort of made it to where those sorts of vocational jobs are frowned upon. We tend to forget, however, that those are really the people who make society what it is. Mike Rowe from "Dirty Jobs," has an absolutely awe inspiring TedTalk on this subject you should check out. But I digress.

   I have again started to look at my degree and what I have planned for my future. Currently I am pursuing a degree in Computer Science. I love computers. I love building them, I love programming, I love figuring out what was going through the minds of other programmers as they wrote some small obscure bit of code... But in the end do I see myself doing this as a career?

   I am the creative type. I suppose everyone has a little creativity in them, that's one of those things that makes us human. But there are two sorts of people. Those who have a lot of creativity and those who don't. Neither person is better than the other, just different. But for those who have the creative spirit, working a 9-5 is like caging a wild animal. It's torturous to put us in a room and have us do the same task over and over for hours at a time. We need freedom. Even freedom at the sacrifice of stability is far better to us than collecting a guaranteed paycheck at the end of the week. Again, I will not try and devalue those who need and want that structured 9-5 life. It suits a lot of people and without you we wouldn't have some of the things we take for granted today.

   Looking at my degree, I never really planned to work for the big software companies like Google or Facebook in the first place. That was never my goal. In fact the only reason I am getting a degree at all is so that I may work abroad. Well, that and I suppose some form of security. I am not as daring as some people who just completely take the leap without a parachute. But what my degree has to offer me in the future isn't really what I want. I did imagine myself being a free lance programmer, but thinking about it realistically, the chances of that happening aren't very high. I can see myself saying one day, "Okay I'll just work for Google for a few years until I can start my own company," and then end up stuck behind a cubicle marking the days until retirement. Some people want that, I don't. Some people value a sure and secure pension, I don't want that in the least.

   Have you heard the expression, "Starving artist"? That's the caveat to this whole brain dump. Not many creatives make it. We are few and because of that our skills are often misunderstood or devalued as doing nothing for society. In reality we just have a different skill set than the average person. But what do we do? Do we keep pushing our art and creativity in hopes of finding gold? Or do we hang up the canvas, stow away the camera, set down the pen and paper, and just grind out the years, caged and suffering, until we can retire? I don't feel that I am the first person to ever have this question come up. Quite the contrary. But still, the answer does not come easily, and more than likely not at all.