mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finding myself, or why I think I might drop out of grad school, buy a convertible, and stay single...

There's been a lack of posting on this blog of late. madanthony has been kind of busy, and hasn't really had time to blog. He has had time to think, though, and this post is about what I've been thinking about.

I guess for the last few years, I've kind of been trying to "find myself". I've got a decent job - it annoys me sometime, but it pays the bills. I've got a house, a reasonably reliable vehicle, and a cat who alternates between affection and trying to destroy everything I hold dear. But I still find myself unhappy, and I guess I've been trying to find someone or something to fill that. I still haven't, but I think I'm gaining a better understanding of what those things aren't, and I guess that's a step towards finding what is.

One of those things I tried was going back for a second Master's degree. I work for a college, which means free tuition. I already took advantage of that and got my MBA a few years back - it didn't seem like a big deal, I had an undergrad business degree and found some of the material pretty interesting. But this time I decided to get a Master of Arts in Educational Technology. The college's program is aimed at k-12 teachers who want to take on a tech role, but I figured there was enough of a crossover that it would be worth doing - it could be fun, would show my coworkers that I wanted to expand my knowledge, could be useful if a position involving classroom technology ever opened up, would be a good way to meet people (including single female people) and it would be cool to have two Master's degrees.

But now that I'm most of the way through my first semester in the program, I'm having serious second thoughts if I want to continue. I find it's taking up more of my free time than I thought it would - it's cutting into the time that I can spend doing other things I want to do, like go to the gym or date or read for pleasure or blog or run my eBay business. I don't enjoy the classes. I wouldn't mind having lots of reading if it was interesting and gained me practical knowledge, but instead I'm learning how to change the way k-12 schools educate, and that most teachers feel that they shouldn't have standards or merit pay and that all children are unique snowflakes who can't be treated like widgets, despite the fact that every other business that deals with people have found ways to treat people as individuals while still maintaining standards. I don't really fit in with the people, don't have much to add to conversations, and find that even when I'm not doing homework, the thought of having to do it hangs over me like a raincloud.

I think I'm probably not going to continue - I definitely don't plan on taking any classes this summer, and I doubt I will in the fall either. I feel like a failure, that I should go through with it, that I'm showing my coworkers and teachers that I can't follow through on anything. On the other hand, it seems stupid to spend the next 2-3 years completely miserable so I can get a piece of paper that I can hang in my home office that nobody sees, to give up doing things I enjoy so that I can spend time somewhere I don't really belong. There are some shifts at work that make me suspect that I'm going to be doing more of the business planning kind of stuff that I wanted to do all along, and thus that there would be even less chance that this degree would serve a purpose. So I'd like to think I'm doing the rational thing, that I'm not throwing good money - or in this case, time and effort - after bad.

So onto the sports car. For the last couple years, I've toyed with the idea of buying a second car. See, I need a truck because I do a fair amount of flea market selling and auction buying, where it's incredibly useful to have six feet of carrying capacity. But I also want something sporty, specifically a convertible. I've got a fair amount of money saved up - probably around a year's after-tax salary - and no real debt beyond the mortgage payments on my underwater house and a student loan at a stupidly low government subsidized, tax deductible interest rate. It's probably not the best use of my money, but I think I can pull it off, and if I don't do it now, when will I? The vehicle I want is a 2001-2006 Toyota MR2 Spyder with an SMT (syncro manual transmission, basically a clutchless manual). They aren't exactly easy to find, and I'll probably have to travel a bit to find one, and spend more than I want to.

I also want to take a short vacation this summer, so I'll have significantly less money at the end of the summer if I do both. But hopefully I'll also be enjoying myself, something that looking at my bank account balance doesn't really do much for.

Oh, and the part about remaining single. That's not really true - I still want to find someone. But for years I sort of approached dating with the idea that I was desperate, that finding anyone would be better than being alone. I'm beginning to realize that's probably not true, and also to understand why people avoid dating people who come off as desperate. Basically, I was emailing someone I met on a dating site - the first couple emails went OK, so I gave her my number, figuring we'd talk on the phone. The next morning, she started texting me. Now, I'm not a texter, and don't really like texting, so I found this kind of creepy - probably more than I should have. She seems like a nice enough person, but I also don't know if it would really go anywhere, and I haven't really pursued it - but for a while she was texting me pretty regularly, which made me think of that whole thing about not wanting to be a member of any club that would want me as a member. Part of this may also just be that I'm kind of burnt out with the whole grad school thing and don't want to add trying to balance a relationship to it. I'm hoping come May that I'll get back into the dating scene - I let my eHarmony membership lapse, but I'll probably renew it then. But I've come to realize that while I don't have the world's most active social life, I do have a few things I enjoy doing that take up a fair amount of my time - and a few people I enjoy hanging out with who put up with me- and that I shouldn't give those things up to do things I don't really enjoy doing or dating women I don't really see a future with.

Will making these changes help me find happiness? Probably not, but I think they will help bring me closer to understanding what it is - and maybe that's what life is, less a search for some absolute state of joy as an understanding of what we enjoy and don't enjoy.


At 4:19 PM, Blogger saxy46 said...

hang in there man! it can take a long time to figure out everything that you want in life and to be truly happy. It took me a long time but eventually I got to a place where I am happy.

I didn't realize that you were going to school again for the teaching. I can see your logic with the crossover, but can also understand why you don't like it. I thought about being a teacher at one point. Part of finding happiness is finding the things that you love, and the other part is finding the things that you don't. I don't think anyone will think you are a failure if you decide not to do it anymore. I would see it more of being daring for trying something new outside of your element, and then being smart for realizing that it wasn't for you. People have a hard time admitting if they were wrong sometimes, so if that ends up being the case, then you move on, no harm done and good for you for trying!

No comment on the sports car though...that's one thing i can't really relate to...I drove an '82 Caddie Seville, a Mistubuishi Van, a Dodge Intrepid, and now a Totoya the matrix is as sporty as i get!

Good luck!


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