Advice To A Younger Me: An Occasional Series

What advice would I offer myself if I could sit down with me as a 16 year-old? Not much really.

It seems from observation that you should study economics or law if you want to have a job which pays a lot. Don’t do anything interesting with your economics degree, though – aim at becoming an accountant, surely the least interesting of all the uninteresting jobs in the economic field, for that will take you far, into an office with support staff of at least one and underlings and bonuses and a life of wearing suits a lot and driving a nice car which you replace before it wears out because that is the sort of thing that people in your position do. You will probably have a tennis court. Your job will be unexciting – and you won’t care if unexciting is actually a word – and it won’t be demanding either, after the first few years when they treat you like shit and make you work obscene hours but you’re too busy playing rugby and drinking to excess with the gang from work to realise that this isn’t even all that much fun either. If you study law, the story is similar, if more interesting in the areas of law which don’t pay as well, but you could end up in a field which combines law and economics, with none of the variety and fascination of either but which pays very very well indeed. But you’ll probably become a solicitor of some kind anyway, and that’s just a functional sort of existence, looking things up in books, unless you really try to make a difference to people and fight for justice and stand up against the man, and in that case you’ll probably need another job.

But you weren’t interested in either of these areas, were you? No. Law, the good parts, sounded pretty good, but there were other parts, and there are so many bloody lawyers and so many people are so bloody competitive that it could never be a good idea to throw yourself into such an environment – at uni or later. Well, maybe it could, but so many lawyers are simply arrogant individuals full of the idea that they are lawyers, when it really isn’t that impressive. There are few truly dumb lawyers, that’s true, but they hardly constitute a master race.

Trying to become a doctor is just too long and hard and shitty. And you were always pretty ordinary at science anyway.

Have a look around the class room. Most of these people, even those with hygiene problems who don’t know what a verb is, will end up with a swimming pool. That’s the way society will become and it’s what happens when you get older. The real adults retire and they have to give their jobs to the next group of people, who are all stupid and inexperienced, and then they become the senior ones and the next group of young ones look up to them and wonder what they are going to do in a few years when all that experience retires. People really are getting stupider. And you will get promoted purely because you are older, unless you do with your life what I have done with my life. So don’t do that. Don’t copy me. Copy all the others.

School seems to take forever to end but quite a lot of it is reasonably good fun. Enjoy it but don’t become obsessed. Exams and marks and assessments which seem like the most important thing in the world now will mean absolutely nothing in only a few years, if you can remember them at all. Keep reading and being interested in the world and ideas, just don’t expect that a fine grasp of this kind of thinking and detail will help you in your life. It should help. Companies and institutions should hire people like you to do their thinking, research and planning for them, but they won’t. They will hire people who can pretend in a job application and in an interview that they care about and have some facility with the world and the ideas in it and a genuine interest in them. Or they will hire a lawyer, because lawyers are all smart apparently.

So don’t worry too much and don’t try too hard.

If you want to write poetry – and I know you are rubbish at writing poetry because I am still rubbish at writing poetry – by all means do that, but even if you manage to get published and make a success of it you will still have to work in a canning factory or live in a filthy rat poo-covered gatekeeper’s room at the top of a rickety tower in an abandoned and haunted castle. That’s guaranteed.

It’s up to you. It may turn out well and it may not, but if you choose to do something different, something for yourself, something creative, then be prepared to wait, as success will not come fast and it may not come at all. But that may be what you decide to do if you still don’t really want to be a lawyer and find economics boring and feel like you want to do something else.

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Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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