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Can You Be Too Educated? Thoughts on Underemployment and Effects on Relationships

I'm putting a preface to this blog post you are about to read: I just read over what I wrote and it really belongs in my private "journal" instead of here at my blog... for it is so self-indulgent, and self-important, which, admittedly, I can be. I'm leaving this writing here, however... for me. Some of my blog posts are therapeutic expressions meaningful only to me.... helps me organize my thoughts and plans by writing them down. I apologize for this post... it's for me... really.

I was reading an article (subscription only access article, but in case your're interested or it works for you, here's the link). The article was about the Ph.D level individual and the struggle of gaining employment doing the work of the education/training for which one is prepared.

I have been invited to teach next semester and recently took of some time from doing that. I teach at a small private college. The sad reality, is that teaching college is difficult to get into large universities on a tenure-track. The article said that 68% of college instructors are adjunct, meaning contracted and receiving no benefits/security, at substantially less than the pay of tenured professors. The average salary is $20,000 annually for those who adjunct and I can confirm that that is about right. You pick up a few classes to teach to supplement a regular job.... which is what I do. I am thankful I have a dozen years in exec level marketing management to keep a regular job. Teaching then becomes supplementary and not at all "for the money" but for the love of it.

Still.... it sucks that opportunities are limited. I understand the mentality that any employer could pay two to four 20 or 30-something year olds a quarter what a PhD would want--because not every daily task in a job is rocket science. As a consequence, the higher ed individual usually works jobs under their level for the best monies they can get, not always what they want. It wasn't supposed to be this way, but it is.

I think of my plight. And I'm 44 now. I should be finding ways to tuck money away before I'm really old. And I want to apply myself. To be MORE. I should find the best path for applying my skills. I want to make a difference.

So I gots me some bigass plans. To make a difference I need to define my own way, I think. Nobody is going to hand over big checks. I've got to blaze through my own path...

First, I want to publish my dissertation research results (on the psychology of romantic love) in an academic journal. I will then rewrite the findings in some sort of pop psychology book for individuals interested in what makes relationships work in the areas of passion, intimacy, and commitment. I would love to speak on the work to audiences of interest.

As an aside and for fun, I have and itch and a twitch to finish two novels I started a couple of years ago, one of which was entered into a writing contest and won first place, judged by an editor of Pocket Books, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster... the big dog in publishing. I have several books in mind in the romance genre and womens contemporary fiction in which I want to weave plots with compelling characters having delightfully flawed personalities.... spin tales with psychological implications.

Heh. I can almost hear my mother's logical advice as I write this, "Get your head out of the clouds, Doreen, get a job that gives you a pension and enjoy your evenings. Stop inventing, dreaming... No more dreams!" And yet at the same time, she says to me, "You're the free spirit I could never be...." God we are influenced by what we hear...

I find the years creeping up on me and my focus being pulled away in so many different directions, mostly which involve the service to other people, from my kids to my home to my job and those dear friends who need me. In the recent year, I have traveled a path that has been a detour from my usual grindstone ways. I guess I have been influenced "post-divorce" that I need to find myself and get out there and engage people and new experiences because.... I think most of you know, I'd rather be in fuzzy slippers, alone, being a writing hack/geek than "out there". It's no lie I have had to be somewhat seduced or coerced to get out of my geekity and "too much college" mentality and make some new friends and go out. These have been rich experiences... yet I am who I am... so much quieter in my natural spirit.

One thing I've come to understand about my life is that I have a worldview that is so much better in its imagination than reality. I don't really get off on the adventures of real life stuff. Do I look like a people person? My happy place exists in recesses of my mind... yet... for the rare and beautifully patient friends who know me well.... they humor me. They know how exhausting I can be once given a "platform" to speak to them about what whirls in my head.... too much academia, too much psychobabble, too many life questions and "what if" this-or-that ponderings. You know who you are... you are reading this and still loving me despite my pain-in-the-assedness.

I think I have achieved too much education that on some level, I have alienated myself from some of the easy, shallower (I don't mean less valuable) experiences. By this I mean, I find it to be "pressure" when someone says to me, "Lighten up, just have fun." Ummmmm, what does THAT mean? Put a lampshade on my head? Drive around topless, singing Lady Gaga with the windows down? I think to some degree, that this is what people mean to say or expect. I can come off as being extraverted, even wild... though it's an exterior's authentic, but only to degree.

What if who I am is just a sad soul with the gift of knowing joy in the minutia of life that you can occasionally join with me for intimate and soulful connection? Is that such a bad thing? Who knows.

I am alone... both by choice and by virtue of the universe which surrounds my reality. I am not unhappy... I am a seeker and open and allowing my reality to evolve.

With great intentions.... I forge forward.


Spidey said...

although i was too lazy to pursue schooling beyond high school(yes i admit it!) i have absolutely no regrets regarding my life. i couldn't wait to "be". by that i mean i couldn't wait to experience life, and to me that meant no more studying. and i knew that i would spend my first year of college most likely drunk. i was a party girl. i wanted to live life. so i got a job. on the job training as a key punch operator. oh my god, that sounds so archaic. they don't even exist anymore. but i jumped into the world of working and shortly after (one year) i was a married woman. 5 years later, a mom. and not for one moment do i regret one second of those carefree days. i LOVED being a momma. i look back on those days with such satisfaction and happiness. sure, i gave up 16 years of income and self improvement(maybe). but now, after working again for 10 years, 5 in my current job, my common sense and natural intelligence(i am taking liberty at tooting my own horn)i am making a good salary in a job that i enjoy(most of the time) in a position where i am respected by most. i am the go to person in many circumstances and was complimented today for being someone that is always reliable. i haven't had many complaints from anyone in the last 5 years, so i consider myself a success. and i have NO student loans! so i consider myself a success. and who better to judge that then myself.

sorry for the long winded post. ;)

Roger D. Curry said...

Dearest Dumbass - How dare you apologize for this post! It is not blowing smoke to refer to honest and candid writing as courageous. I am reminded of an opening sequence in Dancing With Wolves - the protagonist is tired of war, and single-handedly charges an enemy position, unbuttons his tunic and rides along the line, bare-chested and arms spread as if to say, hey, guys, here I am, take me, shoot me, this is me either way. What power lies there. What total power, dear one.

doreenmary said...

Spidey, You could teach the world to sing. I have found you such a source of wisdom for years. I wish I knew you in real life. You're awesome!

Roger, You are one I thought of when I wrote the line about friends still loving me despite my pain-in-the-assedness. AND yes, assedness is a word that needs adoption so it can become urban-popular and go into the dictionary along with all the other nonwords that I complain about making it in there as bad English. Interestingly, you and I call each other "friend" for having similar life challenges (like giving a crap and suffering for it).

Thanks for the posts!


Jilly said...

Doreen, there's nothing wrong with too much education if that's what you love.

i openly admit I'll probably be in school until I die. people think i'm joking, but i'm not. every time i think i'm done, i realize that i have a different dream and go for it.

i hate to take a stupid geography class for complete my social studies teaching certificate, and the best people in the class was the married couple in their 70s. they had a lot to share and i wish i had time to hang out with them.

you don't have to get smashed to have a good time, and if you don't get smashed, you aren't a party pooper. you're just you.

i don't like most "party" situations. I'm not a drinker, and it's awful to be the only sober person. At 44, you're not missing anything that a 20 year old is doing.

there are a lot of ways to have fun and "lighten up" that incorporate the things you love to do. instead of feeling beat up for being you, find a way to combine people and things you love, that's more your personality type and wishing you're different and second guessing.

Catz said...

Although I did go to college thinking my dream job was in the medical profession afterwards I ended up in education.I started as a volunteer tutor until one the school principal asked me if I wanted to get paid. Of course I said oh yeah. Although I don't tutor anymore I still enjoy working with the children. I'm a Para. I take what the teacher is teaching and simplify it for the ESE children to learn.

This year I have prek, kindergarten and 1st grade.

I ditto Doreen on Spidey....
Spidey may not have pursued education past HS but she's a very wise lady. I too wish I knew her in real life.

Spidey, don't apologize for the long post. Seems you lived a happy fulfilling life. That's what counts.