Career Paths I Considered During My Identity Crisis of ’09

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In Spring of 2008, I graduated from college.  I had gone on scholarship, and before that I was high school valedictorian, so my parents kind of expected Big Things from me.  Imagine their surprise when I turned out to be a broke “screw-up” without a money-making  job title or life plan!  They should have seen it coming– I was an English major/Art History minor, what marketable skills could I possibly possess?  The truth is, I am one of those people who is either painfully horrible at things (tennis, cooking, remembering to pee before my bladder nearly explodes) or like, really good, and school just happens to be one of the few areas where I shine (along with pulling off unflattering outfits and talking about dog breeds).  I basically breathed onto a piece of paper and teachers were like, “A+!”  Once I didn’t get hired after my post-grad internship–or at any other job I applied for, for that matter– I was faced with the crushing reality of the Grown-Up World and had to make something of myself.  But what?  Cue my Identity Crisis of ‘09, when I tried on every ridiculous career hat know to Man (the only one that fit was the dunce cap).  Here are just a few of the jobs that I convinced myself were my “calling”:

1) Scholar of African American Studies:
I think that a lot of recent grads respond to a shitty job market by going back to school and buying themselves time.  Apparently I thought that the answer to my already-useless degree (financially speaking) was an even more useless one.  I abandoned this career path when I realized that it required me to take the GRE, realized that the GRE required me to do math, and realized that doing math makes me want to stab someone.

2) Belly Dancer:
I love taking dance classes, gyrating, and wearing skimpy outfits, so this seemed like the perfect “passion” for me.  I abandoned this career path when I wore gray sweatpants to class and realized that rigorous hip-shaking makes you sweat profusely everywhere.

3) Co-Creator of the Sitcom that Saves the American Sitcom:  
My friend Dorothy and I conceived an idea for a new sitcom called “Miss Tress,” about a middle-aged, tacky hairdresser/sexual exhibitionist who meets guys on Craigslist.  It would be very Sex and the City meets Strangers with Candy.  I haven’t totally abandoned this career path yet; Dorothy and I are just slackers.

4) Amateur Dance Troupe Leader:  
Inspired by that Spike Jonze/Fatboy Slim music video (and apparently still living in 1999), Dorothy and I also started an amateur dance troupe called Perpetual Motion.  I abandoned this career path when no one showed up to our performance at the 16th St & Mission BART station because they feared that we were going to get attacked by crackheads when we started dancing.

5) Gay Icon:  
I wanted a stand-up comedy show a la Kathy Griffin, but really I just went to a lot of Castro Happy Hours.  Because of my propensity for statement outfits, witty banter, and 2-for-1 drink specials, I was embraced by the scene (and treated to lots of free beverages).  Maybe I had finally found my calling!  False alarm– I abandoned this career path when I threw up on someone’s shoes at Booty Call Wednesday… and again, later, on my BFF’s bed (sorryyyy).  The next morning, when I woke up humiliated and without sufficient time to go home and change before work, I was forced to choose between wearing BFF’s Tina Turner Halloween costume or “Madame Zapple” drag look to my job.  I chose Madame Zapple– and received tons of compliments on my outfit that day– but decided that the hard, fast life of a gay icon wasn’t for me.

Although I abandoned every one of these career paths and lost almost all of my dignity in the process, I’m glad that I went through my Identity Crisis of ‘09.  When you’re in school, working at a job for a long time, or doing anything else “routine,” it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and never explore your interests.  Well, “Eat, Pray, Love,” people (or, if you wanna follow my itinerary, “Write, Gyrate, Vomit”)!  Take time to get weird and discover what you love– if this site has one message, it’s that having interests other than just making money is awesome.  You’re so awesome!

Image via Love Twenty

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Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she
lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food,
but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends
to have a flair for the dramatic.

1 Comment

  1. August 4, 2011 at 8:35 am

    […] last had this feeling a few years ago, when I had just graduated college and was going through my Identity Crisis of ’09.  What helps during times like this?  For me– gettin’ Zenned out at yoga and […]