Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


The tyranny of career

  • 22 May 2015

In high school they used to make you do these tests where you selected what you liked and what you didn’t like, for the purpose of helping you determine the difference between a sensible career path and one that is 100 per cent influenced by the models on CSI pretending to be scientists with a case to close.

‘School’, which is the precursor for ‘They’, made you take the test just in case you were like every other teenager and therefore had either zero ambition or way too much of it, but in either case a shadowy and uncertain future.

Well, they still have those tests, I discovered the other morning as I multiple-choiced my path to self-knowledge. With my life as it is right now, that is, grappling with a fear of failing the first milestone of my postgraduate research career, it seems the optimal time to find out if life still has other options for me.

I checked the box stating my age: 17 or over.

The results informed me that I might like to consider a culinary career, for example becoming a dietitian, or a chef, which is strange because I neither listened during science class nor own anything sharper than a steak knife for chopping things (it’s all in the serration).

I suppose my enthusiasm for food could have a professional application, as it does for some people, but I am more inclined to believe that my desire to eat food stems from being biologically alive. My desire to prepare and enjoy food perhaps comes from something else, something vague and warmly lit and in a similar register to happiness.

Which is to say that there is a will to live beyond the will to work for money, and that while it’s not unusual to expect what you spend a third of your life doing to be ‘rewarding’, careers can’t account for most of the things that drive a person in their life. Even while I am worming my way, uncertainly, towards one. Even when the concept of the career seems like the most reasonable option, or the only option.

Reason is carved out by culture, not what is best for us, even if reason, by its very definition, seems to imply it has our best interest at heart. The upward-moving onward-spinning trajectory lifestyle ideology is eating our planet alive. It is ideology, remember, the thin shell of reason. It is not