At the beginning of last year (2011) I enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration at Swinburne University in Melbourne. I thought at the time that by adding the intellectual stimulation of study I would be less miserable. As you would have figured that was not the case, however I am doing a subject this semester on Accounting. I have withdrawn from the MBA but if I finish two more subjects (Accounting included) I can graduate with a Graduate Certificate of Business Administration (or a piece of paper) which feels like it makes the whole exercise somewhat less pointless.
Today in class I was talking to the teacher after having sat a mid semester test; he said I was going very well and that I was clearly management material. He has mentioned to me before that he cannot understand why I would chose to work in hospitality (something I took up to pay the rent and get me out of the house) when I had so much more going on in my head. I guess I find what he said flattering; one is always pleased when one’s intelligence/capableness is complimented but there was something inside me that was protesting.
It’s that potential thing again; the idea that because you are good at something you should pursue it without giving thought to whether it sits well with your life stage or personal goals (it can also be phrased as ‘what a waste of good talent’ because you can do something well but chose not to). I seem to be quite good at Accounting but studying for this test was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do because I just don’t care; Accounting is not interesting or fulfilling to me, I know that finances are important, particularly if you’re running a business, but it’s still dull.
There is something sweet and parental about my teacher’s comments, but at the same time they reflect clearly how he exists in a business world with all of it’s rules and structures and how I live (I try to do more than merely exist and sometimes I feel like I achieve it) in a world that requires more from life that secure income and accounts that balance.
I am very, very glad that I am a capable, intelligent human being; I have my genes, my parents, my schooling, my privilege and my own determination to thank for that but more than that I am glad that there are things that mean more than just finding a job that you don’t hate and going there everyday ad infinitum.
This conversation highlighted the reasons that I’m not pursuing the course after the end of this year and gave me a perfect opportunity to experience positive reinforcement for behaviours that don’t make me happy and don’t contribute to my journey as a person without succumbing to the validation blindly and changing how I felt about my path.
I still have no idea what I’m going to be ‘when I grow up’ but I guess it’s helpful to add to the list of things know what I don’t want to be. And I think I’ve grown personally to be at this point where external validation is only meaningful if it’s for something I really care about; like writing, photography, or blogging!
I’ve been here too. Apparently I am good at being a political advisor, but I didn’t feel like I was, and I didn’t feel like it mattered. I may be back to it, but the question about what I do when I grow up is still undecided.