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    ACYCLINGMIND   12,051
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Stress - Future Life Decisions. Help Requested.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Guys, I'm stressed. I recognise how long this is but I would be greatful to anyone with open ears. Uh... eyes.

I like to think I don't get stressed very easily and, the fact is, until I was about 22 I didn't get stressed at all. It wasn't until I was having chest pains one day that I realized my job needed to change. Chaos ruled for nearly a year until it escalated to a point where I decided a change had to be made. That's when I moved back to Ontario from BC.

Today I've been making myself more stressed by thinking about my future. When I was a teenager (16? 17?) I wanted to be an outdoor adventure guide. I wasn't sure about the specifics but I knew I wanted to spend my life in the outdoors. A few of my friends, who were heading along the same lines, had a few "one-up"'s on me. They had gone to camp as kids and become councillors, rangers and treeplanters before entering university. Me? I wasn't so lucky and I thought you needed these credentials to become employed in this line of work.

Later, as I was applying for university myself, my aunt told me some words I will never forget. She said that being an outdoor adventure guide wasn't a career that would make any money and it was a poor choice to make. Despite not knowing what I would like to do with my life she told me not to take a year off between high school and university. I should go to University no matter what.

I did just that. In 2005 I attended the University of Toronto for English studies with a Russian Minor. I nearly failed 3 of my classes and dropped out of my Russian course without a word to anyone. I only attended for one semester and, thinking back, I couldn't even tell you what I did through the second semester other than spend my government loans. I'm still paying those loans back.

I still knew I wanted to do something involving the outdoors. I loved camping and backpacking. I could canoe for an entire day without frowning once. But I was still under the impression that I needed more experience to become a guide. I started working in sales at a high-paying job (for my age). A year later I moved to BC and transfered workplaces. I stayed at The Brick for a total of 4.5 years before escaping back to Ontario.

May of 2011 I started working for my dad's photography company. I had thought about attending school multiple times throughout the years but it always seemed to be spring and too late to apply to the schools. I was scared away from the programs I wanted to attend because I was lacking credentials, my references weren't up to par or my finances weren't good. A year and a half later and I'm still scared.

A couple of months ago I thought I had found my calling. I applied to a few colleges for their web design programs and enjoyed tinkering around with the designs of a few websites friends and family had asked me to create. I loved - and still love - the design aspect of the world wide web. I soon realized that web design was not a strong-paying feild. I could take the course and make perhaps $40,000 a year or, during the same period of time, I could take a web development course and earn nearly double. I decided to accept my attmitance to Georgian College for their Web Design and Development program.

I'm not fond of coding; I tried to learn HTML and got bored half way through the process. I keep thinking of myself 10 years in the future owning a small home in the country with a garden for a backyard and more chickens than I can count. Is that realistic as a web developer? I don't know.

Today I have been searching through schools for Adventure Tourism. I know this is a job that I would enjoy but, at 25, I have never had experience in this feild. Most programs are four years in length. I would be turning 30 when I graduate. They require a strong and normally slim fizeek. I'm not sure how many years I could do jobs in this feild. I'm sure my body would be happier for it but my financial situation would certainly never improve.

Just applying to the two schools I would like to attend will cost $240. I'm missing a few credentials such as first aid and bronz medallion. I have very few references having worked for a family business for the past two years. I have even fewer references relevant to the outdoors. I don't even have a full driver's license.

I don't know what to do. If I apply and I'm not accepted then $240 is a lot of money I could have used toward another area of education. If I apply and I am accepted will I chose not to attend? I have high anxiety. Will the interview process be too overwhelming for me? I have so many questions. Am I prepared to live with lower finances in exchange for a lively, more nomadic lifestyle? Or would I prefer to settle down near the city and JavaScript it up?

Any responses or motivation you have will be deemed both worthy and appreciated. Just please don't tell me to follow my dreams. We all know we should do that. Thank you so much for reading!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
FOWLSPACE 3/6/2013 10:14AM

    From what I can see, there are a couple of things that might be going on.. all of which, I think many people go through. For me, it was always expected that I go to college, but I was determined not to go to same school that both my parents went to as well as my older sister. I played it off like, I wanted to be the black sheep, I wanted to be different, but the reality was that I was just terrified I wouldn't get in and I'd look like the failure of the family. I ended up going to school for Film Production at a different college, but was miserable within 2 weeks. I stuck it out for a year and half before biting the bullet and decided to transfer. When transferring I STILL opted to not apply to the school the rest of my family went to, until the very last minute. I just went for it hoping that I really wouldn't be a huge disappointment if I didn't get accepted... and then.. I did. In retrospect, it was one of the best decisions I had ever made because the education was phenomenal, the friendships I made were long-lasting, and I came away a degree that can open doors anywhere.

POINT #1: Just do it! Apply and see what happens! You might find that you're more qualified than you think, even if the hard-copy credentials aren't quite there, YOU the person might be exactly what they're looking for! (If the finances are the issue, try saving up a little bit, that will help you also get a sense of if you're comfortable living on less money :)



The next thing is actually something a former colleague of mine once said... in our generation, people don't just stay in one career for a lifetime like they used to do. People our age tend to have 3 or more careers.. and I say careers because typically people spend 5-15 years within a field, not just a job. This guy was a lawyer, then went back to school to be a social worker, did that for 10 years, and then went back to school to become a teacher, and was just starting that career. And, honestly, I think he's right.

I've been in the field of education for almost 10 years now. I was a classroom teacher and now I'm a coach of teachers, and a school and curriculum designer, BUT I'm thinking a lot about other options for me for the future. Some of those options are, "selling out" and becoming a consultant so we can have a much higher household income, and have kids... or going back to school for a doctorate... or a few other options. I suspect whatever I end up choosing, I'll do for several years, and do it really well, but I might find that I want to do something totally different again when I"m 40!

POINT #2: There's plenty of time to do lots of different things in our lives. Being 50 or 60 years old is no longer "old" and people continue to work longer than that.. sometimes because they have to, but many times because they want to. There's nothing wrong with trying something now and then changing your mind. No one is going to fault you for that!



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CHRISTINASP 3/6/2013 7:32AM

    I think it's a question only you can answer. Maybe just clear your head, relax for a while and then look into your heart.

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MAXHARAS 3/6/2013 4:57AM

    I believe if you have faith in yourself and believe in yourself everything will fall into line. Close your eyes and think I'm 30 what do I want out of life? Open them and write it all down. Each time you write something be honest- Is this what I want or what I think I should want? You have the answers to your questions in your blog. Don't think 3 steps ahead about money, job prospects, age. Just think right now what would make me happy and do I think it will make me happy in5 more years. I'm in the process of asking similar questions, have faith once you trust and believe in yourself it just happens...good luck emoticon

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FERN97 3/5/2013 11:15PM

    I just stumbled on your post and have to write. I'm 39 now but was right where you are when I was 25! I know I don't know you but from what you've written here, I'd say you just have to apply to those schools, because if you don't you'll always wonder what would have happened if you had. That's torture - and in the long run those application fees won't matter.

I work in the outdoor field, now mostly at a desk, unfortunately, but when I do get out I get to see the most amazing sites and work with incredible people. I know people well into their 50s who are still adventure guides, or wilderness EMTs, park rangers, you name it. It's a huge, wide field and you should follow what interests you most now, because it will inevitably introduce you to other things that might excite you even more (I went from geology to education to agriculture to conservation, now I work with youth in conservation work). Whatever you choose will have ups, downs, twists and turns like any field/career but it will be an exciting and interesting path, I promise you!

I look back on my decisions and while it took me 15 years to get my university degree (3 years when I was 19-21, then later at 33-34 for another two years), I had had all sorts of experiences in between and don't regret a thing. I know people who attended school for the full 4 years which connected them with amazing internships during the summers, which helped later place them in really rewarding jobs, both full-time and seasonal.

I hope this helps. Good luck on your decision. It's hard but where would we all be if we didn't take risks for ourselves? From Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing everyday that scares you." I say go for it!



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FENWAYGIRL18 3/5/2013 10:12PM

    If you want to do something outdoors then do it! Don't be afraid of doing something you love just because it's not a high paying job, sometimes doing what makes one happy is more important.
Go work in tourism and be some kind of a guide where maybe you can make tips and do on the job training, you always hear of people going to a place like Hawaii and working on the beach or maybe go work on a cruise ship or something that will take you to exotic places and adventures of a lifetime.
Your young, go for it... You know maybe you should take a loan out an start your own business in Florida or something buying a boat and doing fishing trips they make big money doing that.
Your aunt meant well in telling you that you wouldn't get paid a lot and to go for something that would but it's not her life to live it's yours!
You never know you might find Mr. Right lots of men love the outdoors (I didn't see that you were married or not haha maybe I shouldn't say that).
Do something that's going to make you happy, all I have to say is if you do anything to do with the woods be careful of ticks they can really mess up your life, that's what a tick did to mine and I wish I could be active and have my whole life ahead of me like you don't waste your life doing something you don't enjoy.
Good Luck!

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JENNIFER364 3/5/2013 10:05PM

  why not go to school to become a game warden? then you will be in the out doors and i do believe they make a decent paycheck, plus it does not sound like you require a high maintenance life style, if you can provide a roof over your head, food in your stomach and clothes on your back, provide for your family, then you should be comfortable, as for settling into javascript, they say why run the rat race and try to win? in the end your still a rat. hope this helps,

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