Friday, February 03, 2006

Paper or Plastics?

It's been a few days since this space was created, and in that time I have decided that I don't want to maintain an idle, unfocused blog. Instead, I plan to use this space as a forum for those who share my so-called quarter-life crisis concerns. The search for a rewarding career has begun - oddly concurrent with the end of my interest-free student loan grace period - and it demands my constant attention.

In order to understand my career malaise, let's trace it back to its source: the movies. A langorous and ongoing childhood dalliance with the movies can be doubly blamed for my current confusion; not only do I keep waiting for the story of my life to unfold before me, I get bored during the commercials and flip the channel. Can't make up my mind. Want it all. Sound familiar?

No movie speaks more to the point of this condition than The Graduate. (While I'm laying blame like Wilt laid wood, I'll pause to reflect on 1960's America as my mecca of disillusioned self-entitlement; in 40-odd years, young men in my position went from sexy iconoclast to "not marriage material"). When we meet The Graduate's anti-hero, Benjamin Braddock, he's somnambulating his way through his own graduation party. And then he's exposed to a future brimming with potential: "Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics."

Though the film spoke to another generation, this scene still strikes to the heart of my current post-graduate indecision. What could be more mundane than a career in plastics? I think I'm like a lot of people my age, who may lack focus and inspiration but know what they don't want to do. Plastics. Like Benjamin Braddock, we all want our future to be"...I don't know....different." From a distance, most jobs seem similar. They all seem like plastics.

We all want to do something great, something special, something that doesn't make us feel like we wasted our time. Maybe that's the problem: we're getting tripped up by an adolescent conflation of "special" and "great," with a generous splash of "different than my parents" to the mix. Like Albert Brooks ponders in Defending your Life: How come everybody is someone famous in a previous life? Everybody thinks they were Catherine the Great. How come nobody was Joe the Butcher?

For the moment, I'm trying out life as Jon the ennglish teacher. Actually, I really like it. It's similar to life as Jon the english student, but better: more money coming in, more reading, more learning. Still, I know that I will continue to be dogged by the spectre of something more "special", something more "different," possibly even something "great". Go west young man, and all that.

We'll meet back here to discuss the trials and tribulations of careers in progress and careers on the horizon. Perhaps the potential insights we gain from this virtual paper will help us avoid a career in plastics.

Looking forward to it.


Blogger Stephen said...

It shows what a great movie The Graduate was that it continues to speak to the generation of Ben Braddock's children. This has always been one of my favourite movies. It came out in 1967, when I was just entering university, so I did not have the same career anxiety as you did yet. But I've seen the movie five times, and it still resonates. We're always in the process of growing up, worrying about the choices we've made, and afraid not just that our jobs will be plastics but that our lives will be.

4:18 PM

Blogger caraway_ said...

Okay, you, I joined up with a dummy blog just so I could say hi.

10:48 PM

Blogger Jon said...

Hey! Remind me of where I can find your site on live journal.

2:15 PM


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