The Motivation to Puree

I spent New Years 2013 on Jen’s couch, drinking wine with her and her husband. As midnight came and went, it slipped our minds to change the channel and watch the ball drop in New York because we were too busy watching World’s Dumbest Boozers. This seems fitting, given how I spent 2012: doing everything and then peeking out my head long enough to realize that the whole thing flew right by me. Where did it go?

I spent 2012 trying to find a rhythm after having a few years that seemed like a little too much chaos for me. Crappy job! New job! Poor! Not poor! New cat! Elderly cat! Life changes! Dudes! 2012 was the year when everything finally calmed down: I turned my schedule into a well-oiled machine, got a little more comfortable in my job (I don’t think anyone is ever completely comfortable in SharePoint), and attempted to narrow down the spread-too-thin social calendar. So I sit at the beginning of 2013, feeling like all the chaos has been smoothed out to the usual low ripple of non-predictability that is par for the course in life. That’s all well and good, but you know how human nature is: the second things calm down, we immediately start getting bored and asking what’s next. So…what’s next?

I have no idea. I feel like I’m standing in front of a big flow chart, a huge set of if/else statements, waiting for one thing to be decided so that another one can, and so on. It’s not that I’m taking a passive role in my own life; it’s that I’m taking the time to figure out what the right decision is.

I believe I would very much like to get a master’s degree in psychology, most likely cognitive psychology or cognitive neuroscience. It feels insane and flaky to even type it out loud, but there it is, gnawing on the back of my mind. The second I scold myself with “you PICKED a career, can’t you just stick with it?” the idea pops right back up again. There’s all this curiosity in me, so the idea of having time to research a bunch of things sounds pretty nice. A life in development gives one a chance to say “let’s see if we can pull this off,” and that’s fun too, but the idea of thinking of questions and looking for answers sounds awesome. I like my current career just fine, but there are days when I don’t know if I can do it for 30 more years. When I ask myself “what’s next?” my brain doesn’t get all excited about getting super awesome at SQL Server. My brain goes “yes, we can do that and make a bunch of money…but what was the thing about the brains?”

That’s the pie in the sky idea, though. Here in reality, I am a single lady with a mortgage and an elderly, expensive cat. I just got done being poor and I’m currently kind of enjoying the idea of being able to afford luxury items like a couch. At first glance, there’s no way I could just peace out on my entire life to go wank around in a lab somewhere, effectively taking my entire life, putting it in a blender and hitting the “puree” button. Besides, it’s not like I hate my life. I’m just not motivated enough to puree. Then again, maybe “puree” isn’t the only answer. Maybe I could combine the development and the psychology? The collision of cognition and programming gave us the field of artificial intelligence; maybe the real answer is finding a way to combine life experiences to make something new and far more interesting that some simple, boolean, “give up your old life for a new one.”

To seriously entertain this idea, I’d have to be willing to move, be poor again, and accept that I would be completely screwing myself in my current career. You can’t just go off and not think about web development for 3 years and expect to ever come back. In 3 years, everything changes and you have to be there to keep up. Web development is like a treadmill where the slow, old or unmotivated just go flying off the machine, only to be heard from again when they appear on Tosh.0.

Just typing this still feels like a naive and slightly insane thing to do. Majoring in anything that would ever involve the term “neuroscience” is a thing that other people do. Super crazy-smart people who don’t already owe Sallie Mae 30 grand. I’m a smart girl with good hustle, but saying “yes, I’m going to go into neuroscience” is a bit much.

Which, as a godsmack, is a small part of why I want to do it. If there’s no risk of big-time failure, you’re not growing enough.

For right now, this is just a hobby that will be put in the “would like to do one day” pile, right next to “go to England” or “eat real bananas foster.” But one day it might get pulled out of the pile and, when it does, I’ll have a few years of reading behind me. Til then, I’m the girl on the treadmill reading the book about conscious decision making.

The irony is delicious.

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