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the croquet tournament

So today some friends of my parents were holding their Annual Flag Day Croquet Tournament (well, almost flag day, close enough) so I opted to go with them. I didn't have a whole lot else to do and I usually enjoy croquet and it was, let's face it, a perfectly beautiful afternoon. And the party turned out to be a blast. I lost badly in the first round so I didn't even make quarterfinals, which was sad, but it was okay too because it meant I could drink all the beer I needed to cope with the loss and not worry about playing another round. They had Coronas there and a buffet full of side dishes brought by party goers. Hot dogs, chips and dip, cookies, everything. And since we'd all played croquet together it sort of broke the ice and you could talk to anybody. There were three courts going so you could go watch, or you could sit in the yard and watch the coolers.

Around nighttime I started getting into interesting conversations with some others about life and how you live it. After I told them I had just gotten out of college and wasn't sure what to do they started spouting advice for me, telling me how great I had it at this time in my life being smart and healthy with no payments or children. The thirty-something crowd had advice, the fifty-something crowd had surprisingly similar advice... so I figured I'd spout it down here while it was fresh in my head. Now keep in mind when you read this that we'd all been drinking (some rather heavily) for about four hours, so that can affect things (well, usually make them more fun...)

  • Don't get a job. Especially one that's not right for me, or that I won't be able to learn from. I have nothing to gain from being a waitress right now. Take the summer off, apply for things but don't dive into the wrong opportunity just because it's the only one out there.

  • Go to graduate school (this was the fifty-something crowd, the ones who have real positions in successful companies). Call up my old college professors first thing monday morning and ask them where they'll be able to get me in at. Go to Berkeley or MIT, go big, do what it takes to get in even if I don't have a real engineering degree (!)

  • Whatever happens, DO NOT get married before the age of 26-27. Do not have kids before age 30. (everyone said this, and I'm totally fine with it. Not like I haven't heard it before, anyway.)

  • Buy an airplane ticket. Round-the-world tickets cost $2000 and are good for 18 months. Don't plan, just go. Frankly this scares the shit out of me and there's no way I'm going to do it. My spring break in Toronto was by far the craziest thing I've ever done (travel wise) and although I'm really glad I did it, I'm not sure I would have survived without a companion and a team of incredibly nice tour guides. I would really like to see New York some day, so maybe that can be my world tour. I'd like to see California too.

  • Don't worry about life, I am smart enough that I will eventually be successful. Just think big and have fun and get out and experience what life has to offer. Retirement is great, but when you get there you're old and sometimes not healthy and often focusing on keeping up with the family you helped create.

So I'm not really sure what to think of everything, or what to take back. I guess what they were trying to tell me was that I shouldn't sell myself short on life, shouldn't settle for a camry and a morgage because there's a lot out there that has to be experienced before commitments are made and lots are drawn.

Sometimes I think that the things we say we'd do if we had life to live over again aren't the things that would end up happening if we were really given the opportunity. That was a disconnected thought, I just wanted to add it in for some reason.

But I was glad to get to talk to everyone. Get advice. It was all very honest and real, they were all very glad to let me in on what they'd learned. They all sort of looked at me the same way... You're 22 years old, that's nothing, you're so free. You can do anything. Don't let it pass you by. I like thinking big. I like getting the idea fresh in my head that I can do big things and live life. Sometimes I think that the biggest issue I have with Dave is that he just doesn't think that big, doesn't see cities and think he can take them over, doesn't think he can win the game. Anybody can win the game. Anybody can take this life, go big, not stop, not pass go and collect $200, just shoot of the board and be gigantic. You just have to know that's what you want.

I am only 22, but that's what I am basing my existence on.

I'll think about the traveling, and the graduate school. I'll think about it more tomorrow. And I'll probably apply for jobs too, for good measure. Until then I am very happy to be, well, here.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 8th, 2002 10:37 pm (UTC)
Some of that advice I would agree with, much of it I wouldn't. I do think that going somewhere FAR is really good for you. Going to Canada is not that substantially different from travelling in the U.S. Going somewhere where they have a totally different culture and perspective would be very good. It's good to learn about other people and other ways of thinking. Being immersed in North American society all the time makes it too easy to make assumptions about things which aren't necessarily valid. On the other hand, I got married at 23 and I don't regret that at all -- I think that it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I think that a lot of people who say not to get married at a young age are saddled with marriages that don't really work as well as they should or with partners who don't really understand them and cramp their style. Getting a graduate degree is only good in certain fields, and can actually work against you if you're not careful. Make sure to look into it first. A lot has changed in the last 50 years, and graduate degress do NOT have the clout they once had, nor do many companies want to consider candidates who they fear may demand to much money, may feel overqualified and leave at the drop of a hat, or may be too heavily trained in an ethic, mindset, or mode of thinking that is not comparible with their corporate structure. On the flipside, many jobs -require- a graduate degree. Just make sure that that's the case for the career you want.

The worst *WORST* advice by far is the advice to not get a job and not take jobs that aren't exactly what you want in life. A diversity of life experience is a good thing, and having had to have worked jobs that aren't exactly what you end up doing for the rest of your life broadens you as a person, and gives you perspective that may come in really handy later in life. Moreover, feeling 'above' any kind of work is a character flaw which leads to many other problems in life, in society, and in relating to other people and their situations.
Jun. 9th, 2002 11:12 am (UTC)
I wish I had the funding to go across the ocean or something, like to Europe or Japan or somewhere like that, but I don't. I worry about keeping my car insurance paid, crap like that. Maybe in a couple years, but I don't see it happening soon.

I'm glad I'm working retail in a way, it gets me more experience with people, and I can point to it as a "name a time you worked under pressure" kind of thing.. there's always a time about once a day when there are 5 different tasks that all need to be handled neatly and quickly to go right.

If you have a reason to go to grad school, bithin, otherwise, what's the point... the only one I could see for myself is to hide from a not great job market, but if I end up doing poorly and drop out after a year and a half, I'm much worse off, as I'll be just as broke, and have lost less time to get somewhere.

Taking a job you don't think you absolutely should be doing can still help, I agree with all your statements. Plus it can always help broaden your sphere of knowledge, at least a bit.

I'm glad I have a job right now, wish it paid better, 2 more bucks an hour would be great, but that's a pretty sizable raise, and really there is no chance at all of getting that. One thing I will say about retail, it's more common to be in it for the money, at least somewhat, and that's where I am... not doing this just for the love of the game.
Jun. 9th, 2002 12:28 pm (UTC)
Now that you finished college, the idea of taking a break and going somewere diffrent sounds a good idea. it will give yuo time to think on what you want to do next, but dont take too long. If you want to go further with your education apply now, places soon fill up and you can always take a year out to earn some money and have a break.

The best thing is to do what you want, wether it is work or education.
Jun. 9th, 2002 01:38 pm (UTC)
I spent a year and a half travelling on my own in the states, Canada, Fiji, NZ, Australia and Africa. It can be scary, and it can be VERY lonely at times. But if nothing else it teaches you to be happy in your own company. If you are not happy with yourself and your thoughts as company then how can you expect anyone else to be.
That aside it was an absololute blast, partied very hard and made some wonderful friends in all corners of the world.

I really recommend it
Jun. 9th, 2002 02:47 pm (UTC)
You got some pretty good advice.. all of it is pretty sound. Although it's what you do that's important, not what other people tell you to do.

I decided for myself that it was okay to get married at 24. That it was okay to take a job at the same place where I worked one summer three years before (they called me up and offered me the job out of the blue; people there remembered me and wanted me back) because it not only gave good learning opportunities but they also sponsored me to go back to get my MSc. degree, which I'm doing part time while working full time. Yes, I was pretty lucky here.

When that degree's done, that's when I'm going to go around the world. Then maybe kids. I'm 29 now and I don't feel cheated or regret the choices that I made in life.

Whatever you do decide, I hope that the people who are the closest to you support you to the fullest. That's what I found was the most important when I first finished school...

Jun. 9th, 2002 08:30 pm (UTC)
You seem a lot more worried about what you're going to be doing. I, on the other hand, am a lot more worried about failing. Graduating isn't a problem right now, but I have to get into grad school. I really want to go to grad school, but I don't have much of a choice as I need to have my PhD to do anything in biology. So yeah, if I don't get in I'm dead. I've known what I've wanted to do with my life since 6th grade and known I've wanted to go into science since I was in elementary school. In a relatively short time I'm going to find out if after 21 years I'll be able to do anything about it.

I can't find a job for the summer anywhere and this is after 10 applications so far. I finally got a job after two years of looking last year for the first time. I look at various computer jobs and realize that despite how much I know and the courses I've taken I really don't know that much. Hell, I look at stuff that other people have done and realize that I wouldn't even know where to start let alone thinking I could do it. You'll eventually find a job most likely, but remember it could always be worse.
Jun. 10th, 2002 07:07 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of options besides a PhD for people in biology. I have a BS in Biology and an MS in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. I was working on a PhD, but decided it wasn't for me. The competitions for the few jobs in both academia and industry for PhD scientists was too overwhelming for me. I decided to finish with an MS and took a job in industry. I was nervous at first to go work for a pharmaceutical company. I didn't want to be a robot doing the same experiment after experiment. I was very surprised when I went for my interview and they told me that I would most likely have a couple of my own projects to work on besides helping out other groups when they needed it. I would be required to come up with my own projects and design new techniques. I found it very rewarding. Right now I am back in academia as a Research Associate/Lab Manager. My company was slowy trying to get rid of people without having to lay them off. So I decided to take a different direction in my life. I like being back in academia. You don't have all that corporate crap interfering with your real work. But that could have just been at the company I worked at. It might be different at another company. Again, I just want to repeat that you do have many options. Please don't feel like you only have one path to take.
Jun. 10th, 2002 10:31 pm (UTC)
Well, I'd prefer to be doing original research and dislike the idea of going into private industry a great deal. It really doesn't seem like the sort of thing I'd be interested in. Right now I'm planning on staying in academia about as long as I can. It's not the real world, but a nice little sub-set of it where I seem to fit in a lot better than the rest of the world.

So considering that I want to do basic cancer research from a genetic perspective and have pretty much zero interest in doing anything to work on treatment methods for cancer in any form I'm more or less stuck in this path.
Jun. 10th, 2002 06:58 am (UTC)
my advice...
...buy a hammock!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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