Where To Go From Here?

I’m in an odd place in my life right now.


This winter, I finally got top surgery and recovered from it, so that’s done.  This spring I bought a house and solved my housing situation for the next several years, so that’s done too.  I went back to work on the Potomac boats again temporarily, because with closing on the house and recovering from surgery, I hadn’t had much time or energy to job hunt over the winter, but it’s definitely temporary, as I’m now at a point where I *can* get a job doing something else.


Which, frankly, has had me thinking about my interests, my skill sets, and how to make best use of them in terms of career stuff.  For so much of my life, I had always put any long term aspirations on hold, because it seemed like there was always something big, looming in the foreground, that needed to be taken care of first.  Well, now that most of that stuff has been cleared away from my path, it feels like I’ve spent the last 5-7 years in something of a haze.  Like many people in my age group, I was in survival mode – take whatever work you can find that isn’t soul-sucking, so that you can eat and have a roof over your head, and worry about a career later, when things have stabilized.  Thing is (and this is a sentiment I’ve heard echoed by many others), it took, years for me to get to a point where survival mode is no longer an absolute necessity, and it’s a little…weird.


I’ve been in survival mode for so long that the process of thinking about what I actually want to do feels like such a luxury that I almost feel guilty doing it, but I’ve been at it, regardless.  Here’s a few of the things that have been bouncing around my brain for awhile:


– If you look at my life, I have a few recurring themes:  history, architecture, sociology (and social psychology), urban studies, art, and strong pattern recognition and logistics skills.  What can you actually make out of that combination of interests?  Well, turns out that there’s quite a few fields that I could go into with those, that I’d not only be qualified for, but interested in.


– Among those things are Urban Planning, Historic Preservation, Real Estate/Development, and a few others.  Urban Planning actually can integrate the latter two under its wings, so that what I’m actually aiming for, since it has the most flexibility in where I could go with it.  It’s also, arguably, much of what I did for my undergraduate thesis, so it’s the field that would be easiest for me to prove my chops in.  It’s also a field in which Baltimore is in dire need of.


 – Unfortunately, almost all of those fields involve further education or certification, for the most part.  I can see if I can get in at the ground floor somewhere, but that could be a challenge, especially, frankly, at my age.  Now, Hopkins and some of the other schools in the area offer free schooling to their employees, so one of my hopes would be for me to find something at one of the schools so that I could go back to school part time in order to advance that path.  The trick is, I know myself – if I’m not interested in the work I’m doing, I don’t last long.  I’ve tried to exorcise this trait, but it’s pretty stubborn – at least I’m self-aware enough to know what does and doesn’t work for me.


 – I have no interest in taking on student debt – I’ve been lucky enough to avoid it so far in my life.  That means that if I want to go into one of those fields, I need to either get lucky enough to get a position in them *without* further study, or I need to find a job at one of the local universities that is interesting enough to keep my attention so that I don’t lose the whole “free grad school” part of it.


 – My other skill set, frankly, is marketing and PR work.  I have a little formal background in it, and a lot of informal background and experience.  It’s a field I both enjoy and am good at (to the point where I offer to do it for people for shits and giggles), and it tends to pay pretty decently.  This is an option that could be a long term thing, or just something to tide me over until I can figure out a grad school solution.


Unfortunately, I’ve been out of the “traditional” workforce for so long that I’m feeling kind of lost.  I haven’t updated my resume in, oh, close to a decade, nor do I really know how people get jobs in this new economy.  After having worked on the water for so long (and in odd jobs before that), it feels like waking up from a nap to find that someone changed all the rules on you while you were asleep.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out – I’m something of a pro at networking, which helps – but I’m still feeling pretty dazed and confused about where I should put my next step forward.




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