Sunday, November 1, 2009

Latest edition of what to do with my life

I am constantly trying to figure out what to do with my life, as can be seen in previous posts with tags such as careers, goals, or paths. My latest thoughts are not really anything new, but they include:
  • Health is a real issue. I can come up with lots of grand plans, but I may not be able to carry them out.
  • It's important to me to be part of a community where people are committed to treating others with respect and doing the right thing.
  • While I think I want to live in a small city/town similar in size to where I live now, it's also important to me to spend a significant amount of time in a more natural/rural environment.
  • I've often thought of how who my sister was at age 2 fit so well with who she grew up to become. At 2, she was scaling the high chair and somersaulting off beds. Now she does capoeira. I felt that if I knew who I was when I was a kid, maybe that would give me some clue as to where to find my niche in the world. When I expressed this sentiment to my grandmother, she said that when I was little, I was always keeping track of people. That made a lot of sense to me. I recalled that while many children enjoy playing Let's Pretend, my interest was in inventing a cast of characters and their relationships with each other, rather than in creating a story of the character's actions. I also recalled that at around 6, I briefly took up gardening, and my interest only lasted enough to start a notebook of gardening tips. Even then, my focus was on compiling information, rather than on hands-on activity. Throughout my school years, including in graduate school, I would make lists or diagrams of the students in my classes. Now in my job, it is fitting that I keep track of students. My most recent day at work, 1) a student told me it's cool that I have such a good sense of which student goes with which advisor, and 2) I discussed with a coworker who all her nieces and nephews were.
  • I like where I live now better than where I used to live, because I feel there's more equality. Where I used to live, I felt there were more extremes of wealth and poverty. Someone told me that this perception was incorrect, so I looked up some data on income distribution in the two metropolitan areas. Just as when I did similar work in school, I enjoyed both 1) the sense of empowerment that comes with using data to get answers to questions, and 2) the process of working with data.
  • Sometimes I think the right career for me would involve using some technical skill, such as working with databases, spreadsheets, or statistics.
  • Other times I think that a job using a technical skill in this way would not be right for me, because the most interesting thing to do is to have a flock of people to keep track of. That is, I want to know the people I keep track of. Just a list of names is not as satisfying.
  • Using technical skills and keeping track of people are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and in fact, one of the things I like about my current job is that I get to do both.

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