Tuesday, September 16, 2008

egregious self-promotion

So I wrote this op-ed on choice overload for the Christian Science Monitor a few months ago. It was reprinted in Santa Clara Magazine's fall issue, which just came out. I'd be very interested in your feedback as to whether or not you can relate. You can email me directly or leave an anonymous comment.

btw, hideous picture. bk


Natalie C. said...

bk, you read my mind. i just got my issue of The Santa Clara in the mail and sat down to read it. i saw your name in the "contributors" column, so was looking for whatever article it was that you may have written. i was delighted when i saw your picture! photo shoot in front of the adobe wall, huh? nice! i decided that i was going to expose your article to all of your blog readers by leaving a comment about it, but it looks like you beat me too it. egregious self-promotion... i'm all about that!

ok, so my comments - it took me six years post college to finally figure out what it was that i really wanted to do. having just started my grad program, i still have doubts about whether i've made the right choice; but the good thing is that i wasn't raised to be an overachiever. in fact, i think i underachieve quite a bit. but this idea of choice is definitely overwhelming - especially when it comes to a career. and the thing that freaks me out is that what i've chosen to do actually is a career. all of my other jobs have just been jobs...

sitting still for long periods of time is not something my generation was raised to do. we are constantly changing our minds. we get bored way too easily. we want variety! that's why we can't make a decision about a career. what if there's something better out there? what if i get bored? why do i have to have just one career? why can't i do multiple things at one time? i love multi-tasking! these thoughts are what scare me about the choice i've recently made to become a teacher. i don't want to get bored with teaching. but i don't want to feel "stuck" either. so what do i do?

i guess i just close my eyes and hope that when i open them, i'll be happy. and then i multi-task. maybe when i grow up, i'll be a freelance writer just like you!

Natalie C. said...

ok, just another plug for people to click on the op-ed link that bk has in this post - it links to the actual article on the cs monitor website and includes a little interview with - yep, you guessed it - barbara kelley. now that was pretty cool. my favorite line, bk, was your mention of being at a restaurant and eyeing someone else's plate as it goes by, wishing you'd ordered that. made me laugh out loud because it's so true!

final note: why do you think it is you have so many former students constantly turning to you for letters of recommendation, long email exchanges, and lunches where we complain about our jobs?? it's because you always know just the right thing to say. thanks for that.

Kristin said...

You are quick...I too was just about to email you about the article. Here's my story--

The other day at the gym, I picked up the latest copy of Vogue, hoping that maybe somehow I could actually burn calories and simultaneously figure out just what I should be wearing to become the black-clad New York fashionista that I am not (I am yearning for hooded sweatshirts and flip flops). It didn't last long....the calorie burning that is. I discovered a profile on an 81 year old food writer named Betty Fussell...and decided that no gym rat was really going to miss the new Vogue and that it would be much better enjoyed over some Thai takeout for one. Turns out as I read further, I realized that this Betty is the same Betty I met three years ago at a family reunion in the south of France. She's my grandmother's cousin. To make a long story short, in the midst of my own early twenties life/job crisis, I decide I must find her. And that I do...

Kristin said...

...in an old Greek revival Presbyterian church converted into apartments. I have coffee--well she drinks red wine--with her and chat for two hours about her adventures and career. The whole time I am thinking that somehow she's going to reveal the secret of life to me! I leave her apartment wanting to travel the world writing about food of course. But between her stoop and the subway, I change my mind about 17 times--maybe I could be a travel writer...I did really like photography... maybe I should go back to teaching, which then turns to non-profits, and then non-profits abroad, then finance as I pass all the suits and ties at happy hours.

By the time I get home, I am exhausted, unhappy, and thinking about what career is "meant to be." I relieved to see the SC Magazine curled up in my mailbox--I want to relax and think about college, where we had a core curriculum steering us, a 4 year window, and immediate A's of approval (not having to seek out raises/promotions to reward our hard work--which there is also a recent/interesting NYTIMES article on). The alumni blurbs stress me out more--should I be networking with these people to find my dream job? Then finally, I come upon your piece, which concisely summarizes most of my minds wanderings for the past year.

Raised to be well-rounded and involved in everything. Apt and able to do anything. You're right-- it's a lot of pressure when you suddenly think you have to make the perfect decision on a career. I moved to NYC for all the opportunity, but I am realizing with all that opportunity comes the envy and the confusion. Surrounded by all these fancy people with their killer jobs, I am constantly doubting my own start, and thinking of what I should do next, or what I should have been doing last year. I have not discovered how to live in the moment and rid myself of constant indecision. While I am reading your article, I can't even decide on a Thai restaurant, of the nearly ten in a four block radius, let alone a job. Overstimulated.

And Natalie's right...that's why in our desperation and confusion, we turn back to you in hopes that you will be able to point us in the right direction or at least tell us why were are all so lost and unhappy with our jobs.

I think you got this one right. Now about teaching the next generation to appreciate each step/mistep as part of the journey.

Maybe I will go back to teaching. Ha.

Turns out...Betty's fabulous writing career didn't actually begin until her 50s. Maybe we have some time.

Lotta K said...

"Betty's fabulous writing career didn't actually begin until her 50s."

Now that's what I want to hear. This Friday is a good Friday.