May 1, 2016 by Caroline Leland
If I were a famous author who died tonight, the following excerpts from an email I wrote to a friend recently might be published in my posthumous biography. But unfortunately I don’t have a career (path?), which precludes the opportunity :/
I wish I knew what I wanted in my career. I’d chase it so whole-heartedly if I knew what it was. My year since graduating has been characterized by feeling directionless… At Crossover I felt like a rat on a wheel, working absurdly hard without knowing why. My life pace is a lot slower now, especially since I’m once again between jobs: I left the magazine a couple days ago (a move endorsed by the director of my fellowship because the magazine didn’t have the organizational capacity to support me). Luckily, the fellowship is allowing me to complete my remaining 70 hours over the next seven weeks or so with Southern Foodways Alliance. The role allows me to work remotely from Nashville and consists largely of researching for a book about Southern cocktails and blogging about Nashville to build up hype for a symposium that SFA is hosting in June. It seems like a relatively fun, low-key gig. I’m frustrated by having to switch jobs yet again, but trying to keep perspective… at least I’m still getting paid, and it’s work I expect to enjoy.
I wish I didn’t love my restaurant job so much. I make about $15/hour and the work is easy and fun. I used to think I was someone who enjoyed challenge, but maybe it’s just that I like variety and learning. At the restaurant I’m learning a lot about food, drinks, and people, and my only friends in Nashville are my restaurant coworkers. I can so easily see myself falling into this as a full-time job just because it feels safe and pleasant. But at the same time, my ego and my degree are shouting at me that I’m “above it” and should get a “real job.” I feel immensely discouraged and overwhelmed at that prospect, though, after two immensely disappointing experiences with “real” jobs in the past year — jobs I thought would be fulfilling and fun.
Either way, my current plan is to stay in Nashville for another year. I’ve already started apartment hunting. The idea of having my own place as a center of calm and peace is shockingly appealing. My life has been tumultuous at best in the past year, and I’m thinking that facilitating external stability might help me develop some internally. I’ll half-heartedly look for degree-utilizing jobs in the city, with ever-sinking expectations — and keep waiting tables and learning French wines in the meanwhile.
Happy things include: my summer plans, which are a week in Austin to visit Alban, a week at home with family, a wedding in Chapel Hill, a family vacation in Puerto Rico, and a couple of weeks of hiking in July with Yasamin. Trying always to focus on the positive…