Saturday, September 15, 2012

How to have an interesting life?

As has been written by others, I am currently giving a lot of thought to what I want my life outside the 9 to 5 to look like. I guess while I have been busy being an academic, this is the stuff that my peers used to always say when we were in our twenties "What am I going to do with my life?".

For some of them, these questions have fallen by the wayside. Travel, marriage, mortgages and babies and they're all comfortably middle-class and too busy with nappies to worry about what do with their lives anymore. They are living them. Cute kids and all, I find it comforting to be around them in their settled, day-to-day concerns.

For others, it's meant finally being adult enough to go to big school. After all the drugs, the parties, the sleeping around, the travelling and impulsive moves from one place to another to "experience" life, they have finally decided that sharehousing is all well and good, but to get anywhere in life they need a proper education to get a decent living wage. So they are busy growing up. These people remind me of me when I was doing my PhD - passionate and focussed on the future. And insanely busy working to the university schedule.

A rare few have made radical lifestyle or career changes, either taking up causes or turning hobbies and interests into careers that are less lucrative than their old ones, but leave them with a much stronger sense of inner calm. These are the people who pre-occupied my rambling mind when I was unemployed - drawing strength from the example that they set.

So where does that leave me?

I kind of feel a bit lost at times. Not quite domestic enough to worry about the day to day stuff of babies and weekend barbeques, still a bit forlorn about my former academic life to feel quite as enthused as my student friends (altough I love hearing them talk about their new found passions) and not quite as energised by the lifestyle change of having a full-time job to gush enthusiastically about my new career.

It's almost as if I am going back to a phase of my life that I merrily skipped over - the soul searching and restless wondering about what I was going to do with my life. Except I am too old for endlessly drowning myself in drink and drugs and the bodies of strangers.

The financial security and routine domesticity that I felt slipping away from me as I spent yet another year in academia worrying about how to make ends meet are now established. My job is neither too boring nor too challenging, leaving me with plenty of free time to do what I please with. But what is it that I want to do? What is it that would make life as interesting and passionately engaging as it used to be when I was an academic?

Ironically enough, I am now in a position to take advantage of everything a big city has to offer, yet paid entertainment is only shortlived. I miss the robust debate of ideas and the chance to delve into arguments deeply that occurs in the classroom. Yet public intellectualism in this town has always bored me. It's somehow too shallow, too one-sided and too flighty to really appeal to me. I have been reading plenty of course, but it's not quite the same.

At lesat I have the rest of my life to work it out. :) In the meantime, I am going to get back to my book.  


  1. It sounds like you might enjoy joining/starting a reading group. I would be in the exact same boat if it weren't for another post-academic who lives about a block from me. We meet regularly to read things and discuss them, and our similar backgrounds means that we tend to have pretty robust discussions. You don't need a lot of people, just a few. It's just a question of finding them. You may even set up interactions with some people in the online post-ac community. These are just the ideas I'm planning on pursuing with all of my new found free time.

    I totally hear you on the difficulty of the transition too. It seems that with the start of the new semester, there are a number of us who are still struggling to adjust to the rhythms of the outside world. Hang in there!

  2. Hi WTF. I am having a little giggle after putting up my recent post and seeing your comment and now reading this. It seems as though many of us post-acs are asking these kind of questions especially around this time in September. I like the idea of a reading group also, but with post-acs. I have been involved with a reading group with two other very good friends but they are still academics and we read academic articles or chapters. I've told them I still want to be involved but actually I wouldn't mind reading other stuff. Like I said in mind post, many the kind of writing that can address some of the academic interest but can also please a more general audience. I am open also to the idea of having interactions with others online - just like we do here in the post-ac blogging community. Hey, there's an idea! One more thing I found, the other day after posting, was the very act of reading and posting with other bloggers here does give me lots of pleasure and is thought provoking too. Maybe we can do around this topic.

  3. Not a bad idea to have an online post aca reading group! I am wanting more face to face interactions in my life at the moment though, so might persue the reading group in RL.