A German friend of mine and I were talking about careers and bright futures via email. Obviously, this hit a few theological nerves. Below are the thoughts I shared with him about those common questions: Where is life going?; Am I going to be a failure?; Will my future be bright? etc.
I didn’t reformat the email much at all, so I hope it is readable. Also, I exaggerated the amount of job offers that I have received. Because, you know, artistic license or something. Besides, he’s in Germany, he won’t be able to check my sources.
Regarding jobs and a bright future, I feel like the process of growing up for me is progressive disillusionment with my lack of progress. I hope my future is bright, but I like to keep the grotesque image of myself getting hit by a bus in my head, just to insure I’m not living as if I’m immortal 😉
I heard something really great a few years ago, the lawyer/novelist John Grisham said that nobody will really respect you as a professional until you are 30 years old anyway, so just study as long as you can and relax through your 20s. Living with this in mind has caused people to interact with me in really interesting ways. I have had more job offers since I have been approaching professionals as if they don’t have any inherent respect for me. Interacting as if I know they aren’t going to give me much respect, but whatever, let’s have a good chat and I’ll share with them what I know without any expectation that they will be blown away by my accomplishments. I find it rather humorous to do this, just because they seem so accustomed to young people trying to impress them. They don’t really know how to take it. I’m always shocked when they say, “Hey man, we would love for you to come on with us eventually.” Then I laugh and say, “I don’t know, I’m kind of in law school at the moment — you would have to make an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
Still waiting for the irrefutable offer, but having fun in the meantime 😉
Life is tough though man. There is this growing awareness of the pointlessness of things. I was thinking this morning why child stars – like movie/music pop stars – grow up so disillusioned. I think it is because the primary carrot of the human psyche – which is “attain success/acclaim/money” – that bubble gets burst too early. They have nothing to live for, to strive for. But to preemptively burst the bubble, I think by taking the message of the book of Ecclesiastes to heart (I forgot what the Germans call Ecclesiastes?), that is a really strange way to live, but I find it liberating. It’s liberating to know that I can enjoy the simple things of life, but also be assured that my ultimate yearning will never be met by attaining success, or actually anything under the sun. It’s why I need to hear the message of the gospel over and over and over – I keep forgetting that everything I need I already have in Christ’s love for me. I’m just preaching now, but it’s true! It just hits the ground so hard in the middle of graduate school, or at any point in the 20s, when all of life is about establishing oneself. So good to be free from the pressure – but also depressing. I’m okay with that though, I would rather have a true perspective that is tinged with the tragedy of honest futility than be obsessed with chasing every crystal starship that is forging ahead to conquer the heavens (I just thought of that metaphor! I like it;)
Your brain probably hurts from trying to figure out the meaning of all my English words. I love you buddy, appreciate you always being a philosophical compadre to me, willing to confront the substantive stuff of life.
Also, David Zahl at Mockingbird just posted a great article about procrastination that captures the thrust of what I am trying to say here. Check it out
if you have a minute.