You don’t. You don’t know whether you like something (empirically speaking) until you are doing it. And then you don’t really know what you will enjoy doing in the future.
Chances are, being eating, sleeping, and other basic needs, it could be pretty hard to predict what’s going to make you happy.
So maybe we should be a little easy on ourselves and not hate on the choices we made based off of speculation.
And recognize that really, there is no analytical route to happiness. Analysis can help us to a certain extent, as can design/creative thinking. But really the only route to figuring things out is doing, as much as we might love thinking. And as much as we might hate/fear/avoid the doing. Maybe we avoid the doing because we don’t like to live in the present- and that could be something to work on, well, now. Regardless of how impractical or impossible our dreams may seem, or how much we actually believe in them.
Enough of things that seem generally applicable and interrupt my solipsistic ponderings. Let’s talk about me.
Right now, I believe with all my heart and soul that going to Paris will make me happy and fulfilled. Speaking French and reading French novels and joining the Philadelphia Alliance Francaise (cultural group) are pretty much the only things that are making me happy right now, besides yoga. Sometimes I also enjoy cooking, and I also love my classmates. They will be the best thing I get out of my MBA program, pretty sure. Can’t put a dollar value on friendship, though I can give a rough estimate of how much it cost to meet each other. Most expensive mixer ever attended.
And I got it at a relatively decent price, as MBAs go, and sometimes I ponder why i attended at all.
Actually, I know exactly why I decided to get an MBA:
1. I thought I knew what I wanted to do
2. I thought it would require an MBA to get to a level beyond receptionist;
3. I thought it would complement my earlier public policy knowledge
4. I thought it would increase my salary prospects relative to debt
5. I thought one year of pain would be worth it
6. I got to travel alongside it (self actualization plus professional degree- score!)
7. It might be a good place to meet a rich husband- no, just kidding- maybe not really…
8. I thought it would increase my options
9. How can learning how money is made be a bad thing?
Here are some things I have learned through the MBA.
1. On working in groups- I find working in groups to do everything draining; I often have a vision of how I’d like things to be, but quickly withdraw when other people take the lead; I can be assertive but don’t like being in charge; since I don’t think I will be able to get people on board with what I want/ don’t have the energy to fight for it/want people to still like me, I sometimes withdraw in order to go with the flow; I only like working in groups when I feel like there is real value to having multiple perspectives and the complexity/variety of the task warrants it; I hate having to plan my schedule around other people; I like the time I spend in groups to be goal oriented; being diplomatic all the time is super draining; I feel like I have to be the friendly extravert because no one else will; I feel like i work in groups too much right now, relative to what I’d like to be doing; also feel less ownership of the end product.
2. On grades/evaluation systems- I do genuinely care more about learning than grades right now; I don’t think grades really measure learning; it bothers me when other people get better grades than I do; I worry about the impact of not having the best grades on my future life; I feel like I could get better grades if I tried harder; I feel very demotivated; I am not sure if getting the best grades is really necessary to having a good career; I am drained by my schedule and lack energy; it’s way easier to get good grades when you are interested in what you are studying; sometimes I’ve been turned away from doing stuff I liked aka econ because it wasn’t where I got the best grades; I have been misled by the semi-myth of natural talent vs hard work for too long; Grades are just kind of stupid at the grad level; I wish I was learning something.
3. On business- I am not very motivated by the whole profit making thing- from a theoretical economics perspective it’s great but it just doesn’t seem like the be-all, end all; great business leaders can and often are great people, business isn’t inherently evil, it’s just evil because people are shortsighted; i’m not really sure what business means, except making money; suits are cool; I think people who more competitive would enjoy it more than I do; I am just doing this because I hope I will make enough money some day to be eating Chipotle without guilt and I don’t think profit is evil from a moral philosophy/ econ perspective. I just don’t think it’s that inspiring.
I would almost agree with this quote, paraphrased, from Forbes
“Money isn’t everything, but it’s better to figure it out after making a lot of it.” Oops.
4. On investing in my future- the fact tha tI have more loans freaks me out, I am afraid of never achieving a debt- free life, it really puts on the pressure to find a J-O-B ideally one that can support loan payments and eating Chipotle for lunch everyday without guilt, and ideally support my parents in their old age. Yup, significant investment in my future. Not really sure that my future is as predictable as a stock, but I’m doing all right, and getting good (though not great, well, ok) grades, my future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades. And hopefully I will have increased career options beyond working at Sunglass Hut, as I have in the past.
What I have enjoyed in the moment (goes far beyond b-school)
seeing the look on someone’s face as you tell them something that changes their worldview
talking to strangers
writing the blog- duh
speaking French OH LALA!
getting lost in a new city
backpacking- yeah hostels!
going to places where I don’t speak the language
Learning a new language, especially the sensuous act of re-learning how to speak, and listening savourously to the words in order to imitate
making people’s papers better
Learning, usually about stuff related to the public interest
coming up with ideas
music playing and singing and sometimes writing back in the day
and many more things! looks like I’ll be able to fit things i genuinely like into my life, however the whole career thing works out.
And it will!