That probably sounds like it's coming out of the blue, but honestly, I haven't been the same since Disney. Artistically, while I still draw well and still basically enjoy the act of drawing, I feel no desire to do it. More troubling is the fact that I feel no desire to improve. All the fire that drove me is ashes.
A career can be good and worthwhile without being a lifelong pursuit. I never thought about the 'after' of pursuing animation. My ultimate goal was to work for Disney. I assumed it would take a lifetime, but I made it there at 21 and was tired of it by 22.
I'm not even sad.
If there's anything about this I don't like, it's that I've still got the ability, and I feel like it's going to waste. I'd sell my talent if I could. I'd even give it away just to see it used, because I'm sure it'd bring pleasure to someone. I feel the urge to do something new, something practical. Even when I genuinely enjoyed my work I couldn't help but feel I wasn't contributing anything of value to the world, I was just another hack making commercial art to be glanced at and discarded.
The problem is that after ten years of nothing but design / animation / illustration, that's all I know how to do. Sideways steps out of this industry are nonexistant. Whatever I do now will require me to go back to the beginning - start again. Still, my mother went back to uni when I was twelve. I don't even have kids yet; she did, and she managed. I've been talking about doing this for years. If there's a time for it, that time is now. Living down here is ridiculously cheap and jobs are surprisingly plentiful for anyone with half a brain. If I wanted to I could walk into a position at Subway tomorrow. I might actually do that, at least until the end of the year, just to put a bit more bread on the table. Haha, sammich joke.
The question now is this: What do I do with myself? Where do my interests lie? What might I be good at? What am I not capable of?
As a child my backup career ideas included veterinarian, author, police officer and psychologist. While those options still interest me, practicality has knocked each of them out of consideration, sometimes in ways that surprised me.
There are no courses for this in Tasmania - not even Vet Tech courses (and I'd happily settle for vet nurse; I'd probably even prefer it). Joe and I gave up too much to get ourselves here and we are not going back to the mainland for years just so I can study this. So it's crossed off.
This is not a viable career choice; it's like counting on winning the lotto. I'll continue writing in my free time as I have been, but I won't waste years studying this. If what I write is good enough for publication, I'll be published with or without a degree. Furthermore, the closest thing to a Creative Writing major on offer in Tasmania is made up of units that are basically irrelevant wank-fests rather than targeted towards improving fiction writing skills; this is the kind of meandering meaninglessness that gives the B Arts a bad name. So that's crossed off, for now.
I've toyed with this one a couple of times. But I'm 28 now, turning 29 this year, and I don't think I can afford to promise the next four years of my life to full-time study. I had hoped I might have children someday. If I'm studying until I'm 33, and then just beginning a career, I don't see much room left for motherhood - and I don't want to rule out that option just yet. So at this time in my life, psych is out.
You know, I was genuinely excited about this one. I love practical problem-solving. The older I get the more I enjoy the physical, and based on my current workouts compared to the physical requirements listed for policing, I could get in without a problem at the level of fitness I've reached right now (and that level is on the uprise). Disasters, rather than upsetting me, leave me feeling simultaneously calm and excited, and I respond with more clarity at those times than any other. Past incidences - the time I was first on scene at a car accident, the time I faced down a charging bull, the time dad fell off the roof and split his heel open, the incident with our drunken abusive flatmate back in 2001 - I took all those things in my stride and a part of me actually enjoyed the situation every time. Additionally, I'm well-spoken and well-written, prepared to study to advance in my field, I don't mind paperwork, and I'm already well-armoured against abusive language from a childhood of public schooling on the charmingly bogan Sunshine Coast. Know why I had to check this one off the list? The police won't take applicants who are colourblind.
Yep, you heard me. Mildly colourblind, I can spend ten years as an artist but apparently I can't wield a set of handcuffs. I've already vented my outrage - but it's still ridiculous. It's not like I'm trying to become a pilot or join the bomb squad.
So that pretty much wiped out all my initial ideas. I'm not left with much. After some poking around today I came up with two additional options:
Natural Environment & Wilderness Studies:
A three-year degree run through UTAS, this appeals because it's outdoor work and it offers a broad range of potential jobs, from tour guide operator through to park ranger. Living in Tasmania, it's hard not to adore being outdoors. Practically every time I leave the house I see something that makes me happy. Some days I see things that steal the breath right out of my lungs. Three years is still a long time, though.
This is the top of my list right now. It's a two-year degree in which one studies while learning on-the-job with the Tasmanian Ambulance Service. Pretty sure that's how it works, anyway; it's a little unclear from the sometimes-contradictory materials online. I'm going to call them for clarification and detailed application guidelines.
I think I'd still rather do police work, but as that's not an option, this is the closest alternative. I've never had a problem with blood and all the same reasoning about high-stress situations I applied to police work applies here.
- I've never been drawn toward health before and I'm not sure I'd enjoy it now. Arguably, though, being a paramedic is more about immediate problem solving and maintaining life so that others can take over the long, slow job of healing.
- I've never seen a dead body, nor any injury more serious than a deep wound or two. I've never been faced with someone screaming in unending agony. I do not know how I'd react to that.
- I also don't know how I'd cope emotionally if someone died on my watch.
- Paid work while learning.
- Practical, on-the-job learning - I get the sense that this course isn't as much of a time-waster as certain other courses I've been looking at.
- Blood has never bothered me. I've never fainted in my life.
- Smooth transition from study to full-time work.
- Applicable to everyday life. I'd sure feel better about long hikes and having children if I had the skillset of a paramedic.
- The hours are similar to those I worked when I was an online customer service supervisor for that dodgy e-casino. Four long days on (two day shifts, two night shifts) followed by four days off. I loved those hours, LOVED them. Of all the jobs I've had, I think I miss the casino one the most, purely because of the working conditions.
- Well-structured options for career advancement.
- Reasonable pay scale. Not fantastic but many opportunities for promotion.
- Every day would be different.
- I'd feel like I was making a genuine difference to people's lives.
From what I'm reading online, I'd get into the course just fine. And the questions left hanging - can I cope with this work? - are the kind that can't be answered until I leap in and find out. Additionally, part of the training is about how to cope. I'm not a stupid person, and I'm relatively emotionally stable - more so now for having had a hiccup in the past. Two of my friends are paramedics, they've both already seen some pretty unpleasant incidents, and they both adore the work anyway.
I don't see why I can't do this. I think I might like to try.