What am I going to do with my life?

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Dr. Dukkha
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What am I going to do with my life?

Post by Dr. Dukkha » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:29 pm

I'm 19 and live in the United States.
I don't have many passions besides poetry and singing.
Poetry, it's almost impossible to get big.
Singing, I don't want a job that I have to be conceited all the time.
I want a job that will be fun and I will enjoy, but I'm not sure what to do if I don't really enjoy things.
But I don't want to work at a gas station or clothing store all my life.

I was thinking bartender or DJ but they may go against Buddhist ethics.

I was considering paramedic, but the urgency would make me too shaky to meditate later in the day.

Physical trainer, but it's fueling people's ego.

Social worker, but it's too much schooling.

I don't really like school and I don't want to go to school for too long because I don't want to learn things that don't interest me.

But monkhood... that really hits a happy chord with me. It seems kind of like being a social worker, but you're happy all the time and you work for no money (I hate money) and you can help people with their problems and make speeches to guide people in the right direction of how to be happy in their lives. That could be something for me, but I'm not sure if I want to make a jump like that.

I mean, I read about the Dhamma day after day for at least a couple hours a day (I try).
But do I really want to give everything that I have up like that? Sometimes I feel like I should...

But if I weren't to be a monk, what job would be right for me? What requires very little schooling and is a social job that is relaxing?
Maybe a librarian? I love to read! But if that job is unavailable, what else?

Just throw down some jobs or give me some type of advice because I am clueless and I feel like I'm going nowhere with my life.
"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting."

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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by poto » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:14 pm

Life isn't easy. Most jobs aren't enjoyable. Often times jobs that are ethical are not high paying either.

You're young and have no skills, this is limiting your options.

Most of the younger people in your position I'd recommend getting into a trade and developing some skills. If you feel that college isn't for you, trade schools are a possibility. Usually the courses are much shorter and more direct. You can make a decent living doing things like plumbing, electrical work, welding, heating and air, etc. If you enjoy building things and working with your hands, that would be a good path for you.

If you don't want to work a job where you break a sweat and have to get your hands dirty, then you can get into IT work. If you are able to teach yourself a proficient level of programming, you can make a decent living at it. I know a lot of coders that are self-taught, and have hired a few. Some of them are better than the univ. educated ones.

If you really don't want to work for other people, you can go into business for yourself.

Also, it seems like you might be idealizing monastic life a little. Being a monk presents it's own set of difficulties, and in some ways can be much harder than lay life. If you're really interested in ordaining, I'd recommend talking to monks at your local temple, volunteering there for a while, and trying to get a better feel for that life. That and check out some of the relevant threads and sub-forums here. If after you've learned a bit more about it and you really think it's for you, then that's awesome and I wish you well.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by PsychedelicSunSet » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:40 pm

As someone who is currently going through intense schooling at the moment, and has not been entirely enjoying the work load, I've been thinking about this fairly frequently. The direction my thoughts are heading in is that, in terms of happiness, it doesn't matter. Happiness seems to me to be entirely (or at least mostly) due to internal conditions, not external. You'll find reasons to be sad no matter what your line of work. To me what is most important in terms of a job, is that you're not harming anyone/benefitting from the harm of anyone, and that you'll be able to eat. I've also entertained the thought of ordaining, but wonder if the reason it seems so attractive at the moment is that I'd be escaping all of this hard work, which isn't a very good reason to ordain, in my opinion.


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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by Monkey Mind » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:55 pm

I have a staggering amount of student loan debt. If I could go back to 19 and do it all over again, I think I'd go to trade school or some (short term) college to study forestry and agriculture, and work as a forest ranger with the state parks or federal forest lands. Such a job would be outdoors in some breathtaking landscapes, involve interaction with the public, provide a retirement pension, and pay off student loans over a reasonable period of service. Of course there is hard work involved, building trails or forest fire prevention, etc. But I'd bet it is rewarding and satisfactory work.

Or I'd be an organic farmer.

Or a sign language interpreter.

One of the happiest people I have ever met (excluding Buddhist monastics): a taxicab driver. A close second is a hair stylist who works on cruise ships. And there was a young woman who lead kayaking tours in Alaska.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by santa100 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:07 pm

Also make sure to take the current US economy and tight job market into account. Healthcare professions are safe bets and a lot of them don't require a full 4-year degree: nurse/pharmacy assistant, ultrasound/radiology technician, medical billings, etc. These programs only require about 2 years to complete, less prone to layoffs, and can make very decent salaries..

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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by reflection » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:11 pm

Sometimes you can get very much get caught up in thinking about the future. Trying to get it all planned out, on what you are going to do, on what you are going to be. But look and ask around to see how many people ended up exactly how they planned. You will find most are not. There are so many factors that we can't factor in, the most obvious things being like economy or sickness. But a change of heart or lifestyle is also possible. And there is so much more.

If you know that not much things go according to plan, that puts planning in another light. It makes it less important and you will see that you can not depend your happiness on letting things go to plan. Your happiness then can start to come from somewhere else. I'm not saying planning is totally useless. I'm just saying to also see the other side to probably relieve some of the tension. If you can find happiness inside of you instead of externally, you can also start to see that wherever you end up, you will be alright.

For many years I thought I knew what I was going to become, and what I had to do to get there. I finished my education but now it seems like I won't be doing something in that direction after all. But I can be happy knowing that wherever I go, wherever lives takes me, it'll be fine. I'll work it out.

Maybe this can help a bit. :namaste:

Dr. Dukkha
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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by Dr. Dukkha » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:16 am

Most certainly helpful! Thanks to all of you! :)
"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting."

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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by chownah » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:11 am

Learn as much as you can about everything.......this will give you the broadest range of possibilities to choose from and expose you to many different possibilities which you probably have never heard of.

Don't think that you have to do the same thing forever. Not only has this never been true but the current wisdom is that one should plan for multiple career changes since job markets are thought to be in a state of flux which will continue into the future.

When I was 19 I was mostly not even of a mind to consider even as possibilities many of the things that brought me the most satisfaction.


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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by dagon » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:04 am

At 19 I wanted to be an architect, build buildings that would be my memorial …. Make money … have … bla, bla

8 career changes later and realizing what is important to me I look after people in a nursing home. If I had been more serious about following a Buddhist path I would have done this much sooner.

There are 2 ways of looking at my work. In one it is badly paid, antisocial hours, physical and emotional demanding. It is a sh#t job, in all sorts of ways. The other way of looking at is that is a fantastic job that allows you to give metta, compassion, joy to many people - where without looking for it you receive the same in return.

To put it another way it is not so much what you do as the way that you view it.

This is a copy of a “bonus pay check” – a friend asked me what this family had said so I typed it up.
Dear Paul, thank you so much for the quality of care that you gave my mum. A number of people at the nursing home were good to mum, but your efforts especially ‘shine’ through. You are just particularly capable, experienced and know how to handle older folk and those with disabilities. You know so well how ‘to win mum over’ to feel comfortable enough to go along with what needed to be done for her care. I remember the time when we couldn't get Mum out of the car after she had been home for Christmas. Thank goodness that you were around!

Also I liked the way that you would keep me informed about how Mum was going in various ways. I know that staff at the nursing home are often very busy, so this level of communication does not always happen. And yet knowing how your Mum is fairing is so important for family members.

I think working in a nursing home has many stresses and challenges. You do it so well – and I feel that mum was indeed fortunate to have you, Paul, as one of her key carers.

Again thank you so much – all the very best for your work at the Home and your future endeavors.
Best wishes and God bless

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Re: What am I going to do with my life?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:17 am

Greetings Dr. Dukkha,

Maybe think less about what you're going to do, and more about how you're going to do it.

What are you going to bring to your livelihood ~ what are you going to bring to your life?

Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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