Just under two years ago, I was going through a really pathetic existential crisis. It began while at was at work, and back then I worked for a film/tv production company. This was the job I'd always thought I wanted and I was now about 6 months into it, and starting to get restless (note: my attention span = 1 hour, max). On this one particular day, I was putting together a script for a very important person, and I was trying to make it look as perfect as possible. I checked to make sure no pages were missing. I checked to make sure that no page had a smudge or had come out of the copier with crooked lines. I double, triple, obsessively checked that I'd typed the right address on the label attached, carefully, evenly, to the outgoing package. I wanted to believe I was doing this to appease the higher-ups at the company, but really, I myself was beginning to really really care about this. I recognized that I was tense, and my palms were sweaty. I was freaking out over making sure that this script arrived flawless at the doorstep of this very important person because obviously the whole world would end if the ink printed too lightly in one section of one page.
Suddenly, it hit me like an elephant on roller skates: It just doesn't matter! (Yes, like that scene in Meatballs.) It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! Maybe it all mattered to my job, but it didn't matter to the world. A bunch of scattered images flashed through my head accompanied by honking car horns and train whistles and church bells. Starving children. War torn nations. Grieving families. And so who cares about what I'm doing? And why is this my job? And can anyone have a job that matters, really, to the world? Unless you are like working for the Peace Corps or something. All you're doing is just contributing to a pointless cycle of making money to spend it...Yaddi yaddi yadda.
It was like one of those moments when you feel as though you're being sucked backwards through the universe.
"Holy shit," I said to myself. And then the phone rang, and I remembered that I still had to carry on with the day.
Unfortunately for an acquaintance of mine, he was scheduled to have networking/schmoozing drinks with me that evening. The poor soul had to sit there, eyes glazed over, idly sipping his black & tan while I ranted on like a lunatic. "WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!" "DON'T YOU THINK YOUR JOB IS STUPID?!"
I'm used to having these moments of intensity, followed but apathy, followed by "wait, what was I mad about yesterday?" and so I knew that if I just took a moment to look at the positive (i.e., Movies are glamourous. People think my job is cool, maybe.), this would all blow over.
And it did, sort of.
My mother came to visit a few weeks later. And over margaritas I unloaded all of my bullshit on her.
"Well, maybe you should be a lawyer," she suggested.
"Yeah, ok." I confirmed.
And that's pretty much about as in depth as that conversation was. I'm not exaggerating.
The next day at work I researched the LSATs and different law schools in the area. I was nervously excited as I researched, checking over my shoulder to see if anyone could see what I was doing. "Suckers! I'm planning my escape!" I thought to myself. By the end of that June day, I'd registered for the LSATs in September. This was approximately Hour 19 of my dream of being a lawyer.
That night, over dinner, I announced proudly to my mother, "I signed up to take the LSATs today."
She finished chewing her food, her face unimpressed. "Yeah?"
"Yeah! Cool huh? And so then I'll apply to schools this fall. I only have a few months to prepare, but I know I can do it."
"Oh. Ok." Was about her reaction. The tone of her voice was something that suggested "I wasn't totally serious last night, but ok whatever."
The next few weeks, I was high on my new, terribly important life plan. I couldn't focus at work because I was too interested in my next step.
But whenever I told anyone I was applying to law school, I was met with a certain level of incredulity. "Oh. Yeah? Really?" and then a halfway disgusted, "Why?"
To be honest, I wasn't sure why. My reasoning was weakly based on the notion of "I want to change the world!"
But also on "I want someone to pay me lots of money"
and "When I tell people I'm a lawyer, they will be duly impressed"
and, mostly, "I feel like going back to school because it's better than working and probably I've grossly underestimated how difficult law school will be and I may have watched Legally Blonde too many times in the past year."
And then the people who really knew me would say, "I thought you wanted to be a writer" or "Aren't you more creative minded?" and "Are you sure about this?"
But I didn't pay too much attention to them. After all, I am, if nothing else, a bad decision-maker. And also, now I'd told too many people that I was going so I had to.
So I studied for the LSATs. And took practice tests. And by the time September 30th rolled around, I was pretty sure I was going to do poorly, but there was nothing I could do about it.
I took the test. It was lame. I totally mis-timed a whole section. I left the test with a general feeling of, "oh well," and I got in my car and drove home.
Only, before I made it there, my car died on the freeway. And then I got hit by a car going 70 mph, and my little car spun around so that I was facing 4 lanes of oncoming traffic, with cars swerving to avoid me at the last second. I hate being serious so I'll just stop my explanation there, but I will tell you that I pretty much thought I was going to die. By the way, what goes through your head when you think you're about to die is this: "Welp. That's it then."
By the time I was out of the hospital- I was pretty much unharmed -I had concluded that I didn't care about law school. In fact, I was pretty resentful that I could have just spent my last day on earth sitting in a stuffy classroom, taking a big test. Also, my last meal would've been jalapeno poppers from Jack in the Box. I was equally disturbed by both notions.
As the days and months went on after that, I came to a few conclusions, which all rolled up into a big philosophical ball that I now chase after every day.
This may sound totally standard, but basically I decided that work is just work, no matter how great or shitty the job is. And life is life, and it's the only one I have, so I should probably try to find work that interferes with life as little as possible.
This whole experience freed me from the burden of having a dream job. If I had a choice, I'd be independently wealthy and just never work a day in my life. How's that for work ethic?
And that's the story of The Time I Wanted To Become A Lawyer and How I Decided To Be A Slacker Instead.