Does anyone even read this anymore? And if so, is it just out of habit or do people even care at all? I dunno. Anyway yeah, drink a thermos of coffee before reading because it’s a boring one.

I’m gonna go back to John’s questions for defining your life mission thing.

Why Do I Do What I Do Now?

Short answer: I have no idea.

A coworker of mine is leaving the company in the summer in preparation for law school. He plans to go into academics, in the field of Constitutional Law.

Anyway, it was interesting talking to him. Dunno if you know this, but with that whole election thing in Florida I got fascinated with Constitutional Law. I actually read all the decisions and stuff released by the courts and it was really interesting. I dug it mostly because it’s surprisingly philosophical, which is something I really dig. But it’s like practical philosophy, where the decisions have real-world impact.

At any rate, this coworker likes the job and everything but realizes that he’s not meant to be a programmer forever. At heart, he’s an academic, and that’s what he wants/needs to do.

It was a really interesting conversation, partly because I’m so fascinated by Constitutional Law. But it really got me thinking about what the heck I’m supposed to do with my life. Which made me ask myself why I’m doing what I’m doing now. And when I really think about it, the honest answer is, I have no idea.

Maybe it’s easier to explain why I’m not doing something else. Actually, let me start even before that. I think most of my life, I’ve had these two forces influencing me. It’s not an explicit thing, just these feelings I’ve had that have kind of moved my decision making. One is this sense of what I want to do. And the other is a sense of what I should do.

The problem is that I’ve never had an overwhelming feeling in either direction. Like, there are a lot of things I like a lot. But there’s no single thing that I love so much that I want to abandon everything to pursue it. Similarly, there are a lot of things I vaguely feel like I should do. Problem is, none of these are compelling or clear enough for me to know that I must take a particular course of action in my life.

If either one of these feelings were really strong, I’d do it. Like that guy in Chariots of Fire. He knew he had to run. When he ran, he felt God’s pleasure. Or other people, like Kurt Warner or something. I’m making that up. But yeah, some people know what they want to do so strongly that they know it’s what they should do. Or I dunno, someone like William Carey, who (again, making this up) had this strong sense of what he had to do. Then it wouldn’t matter what I wanted to do, I’d know what I had to do, and just do it. But there’s nothing like that.

Another problem is there’s nothing in my life, like a talent or ability that sticks out above all the rest that makes it clear that that’s the thing I need to develop. I’m like a jack of all trades and a master of none. I was talking to someone over the weekend and they were saying how they knew they should be pursuing their field because although they were good at lots of things, they were great in this particular field, so it was somewhat clear.

I dunno, I don’t feel that way. I feel like I’m legitimately very good at a lot of things, maybe way above average, but not great at anything. Great meaning the best at something. And there’s nothing in my mind that sticks out as me being particularly better at than another. It’s just a quandary.

So yeah, I’ve never had a clear overwhelming feeling so all I’m left with are these vague inclinations. Like, there are a lot of things I like. I actually like programming. I’m really happy being a programmer. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t be happy doing something else. But I’m not dissatisfied with my life right now, which is I think more than could be said for a lot of my peers. I dig it. And I’m reasonably good at it. But it’s not a passion.

There are other things I like more. Like, I dig music. A lot. Also like philosophy a lot. I’m not sure I want to be a philosopher, just, I’ve enjoyed all the philosophy I’ve taken and get really into philosophical writings and ideas. I really like it. Like I mentioned, I’m fascinated by Constitutional Law, although I don’t know too much about it. Also like academic computer science. I don’t know if that’s the right term. But yeah, the CS classes that involved reading papers and stuff I really liked. I’m reading some papers right now for some background research I’m doing and it’s cool. I think I’d like that a lot also.

I dunno, I could go on and on. Just, there are a ton of things I really like and think I could do well and be happy doing. But none of them stick out as being my one heart’s desire.

Which would actually not be a big deal, except of that other influence, this vague notion of what I should do. All I know is that I should be changing the world somehow. Just, that’s this idea my parents have put in my head pretty much since birth. I’ve been given a lot, so I need to use whatever I have to make a difference in the world. Problem is, they’ve never explained what that phrase really means. Not sure they know themselves.

Medicine kind of fits in there. That’s partly why I was pre-med coming into Stanford. Just, medicine seems to be a tangible way of making a difference. Plus, I thought it might be useful in the mission field someday.

Ditched it because I found out medicine’s not for me. I dunno, I think I could do it, but I think I’m better at and like other things more. Plus I found out medicine isn’t the only or best way to missions. So yeah, medicine’s one of the things I’ve ruled out. Not medical informatics though. But anyway.

So yeah, the problem with that should feeling I have is that it’s so unclear that it hasn’t really guided me, it’s just left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied with what I’m doing. Just, with anything I would want to do, I’m not certain how it would change the world or make a difference more than anything else.

Incidentally, I’m not even sure why either of those are valid. Like, I think with the majority of the world, possibly even in the U.S., what you want to do doesn’t even matter. Doing what you want is a luxury, not a right, or a responsibility. And this whole making a difference thing, I dunno. I was talking with my cousin about it, and I think there are problems with it sometimes. Just, she was saying how it can be a problem at Stanford, how people can be overly concerned with things like grades and career because they’re convinced that they need to do great grandiose things, and when that keeps them from participating in “little” things, there’s a problem, she thinks, because that’s not what the kingdom of God is about. I dunno, I go back and forth on this, like how much is pride and how much is in line with the whole talents thing. I’m rambling.

So anyway, why I’m doing what I’m doing. Like I said, I really don’t know. It’s not a particular passion of mine to program. Nor do I really feel like I’m “making a difference” through my job. So yeah, I’m in this weird position where even though I have vague notions of what I want to and should do, I’m not really fulfilling either of them by what I’m doing now. So why am I doing it?

I think in the end it’s because it was the lowest risk proposition. Like I said, I legitimately like programming, so it was OK to do it. And it was less risky than anything else I could have done. Like, going into academics. Could I get in? Could I hack it? Could I know what field I want to commit to? All of that made it look risky to me. I don’t know if I could make it.

With other things, like I dunno, something philosophical or musical, again, it’s super risky and what’s more, it seems a little selfish. Just, I’d do those things not because I could “make a difference” (again, no clue what that means) but just because I get a kick out of doing it, and there’s some part of me that says, if you’re doing it all for yourself, you can’t be doing it for other people, to make a difference. So, yeah, that vague should thing vetoes it.

So yeah, honestly, I have no real idea why I’m doing what I’m doing. But, I still think it’s what I should be doing. Strange? I dunno, I just think working experience is good. I’m learning a lot, about my field, about the world, about a lot of things, and it’s all good. Stuff that I need in life. So no regrets at all.

And, I dunno, maybe this is bold, but my career really isn’t that important to me. I kind of liked how John’s mom kept saying finding a good wife is more important than finding a good career. Mostly because it made me feel smug. But honestly, I’ve got my health, I’ve got my perfect mate, a good job. If I just had a stronger spiritual home things would be about perfect. So yeah, I have a lot to be thankful for and little to complain about so I’m pretty happy.

But anyway, I do know I won’t be doing what I’m doing forever. Just, looking at where this career track might lead, it’s definitely not me. Either in terms of what I want or should do. Plus, neither my mom nor my fiancee want me to be doing this for a long time, and that’s a big sign. So yeah, happy doing what I’m doing, but it won’t be for too long. Maybe a few more years.

Whoa, that was rambling and boring. What a poor way to end a month of no new entries. Oh well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *