Preface: Ever since it became possible, smart women have had financial backup plans. My grandma got a teaching certificate in case she didn't get married. She told my mum her B.A. would be handy if she didn't get married. And I, born after 1970, went for an M.Div. instead of another M.A. in case I didn't succeed in academia.
One thing about being a Single woman or a Married Woman who might find herself a Widow tomorrow is that you simply have GOT to have a financial backup plan. Happy the woman who has an interesting and well-paying career that means she will never have to barter hours of her life in a boring job just to scrape by. The crowning irony about being Auntie Seraphic, writing happily all day, is that I wouldn't be able to do it if I weren't married to a man who encourages me to do it and pays almost all of the bills. Yes, that is a sobering thought. But that is reality, and I am all about reality.
Dear Auntie Seraphic,
A friend just informed me about your blog, and I find it so overwhelmingly inspiring. I'm not your typical NCG that's dying to meet the man of her dreams so that she can finally be happy. I'm quite open to the religious life and have felt particularly called, but after visiting a few orders and spending time with some religious sisters, I'm not sure if that's right for me at this point. Hence, I'm not necessary in full pursuit of my vocation and looking to live my single life as long as God sees fit.
So, that brings me to the present time. I graduated from college with a degree in nursing in 20--. I spent the past year volunteering with a Catholic organization that ministers to X. This was an AMAZING experience and the best choice my life thus far. However, this was where the problems began.
I was never too excited about nursing, but I was good at math and science, family and friends were very supportive of my 'practical' life choice, and I thought I would find my nitch at some point, right? Well, I left my volunteer ministry position in order to pursue nursing. Yet, as every day passes and I apply for another job, I am reminded of just how much I really don't want to be a nurse. The thought of working as an RN even makes me nauseous at times.
I've had the past two months to simply reflect, and I discovered I have a great passion for writing music. I always knew that I loved music, but I didn't know I would love writing music this much. I feel like God is maybe asking me to pursue this music thing. Yet, I'm such an amateur. I have no idea what I'm doing. I love my music. It makes me feel so close to the Lord and maybe it could do the same for others.
I know with God, anything is possible. I feel like you're a strong advocate for pursuing one's dreams. I have a good amount of money in my bank account, my parents are allowing me to live with them for free right now, and all my loans are paid off. I guess I could go back to the volunteer ministry thing too, but I don't necessarily feel pulled in that direction. So tell me, what would you do in my situation? Should I just find a nursing job for the time being? Should I find a part-time job at Starbucks? Should I travel the world? The possibilities are endless...
Practical vs. Inspirational
Dear Practical vs Inspirational,
You have got the wrong blogger, honey, because I am not a strong advocate for pursuing one's dreams. One's dreams are often harmful and foolish. I ask young women to stop dreaming so darned much and to root their plans--marital or otherwise--in reality.
Incidentally, I am also not an advocate of young Catholic women calling other young Catholic women "typical." Wanting to get married to a good man is normal, natural, healthy and praiseworthy. The part I don't go for, and the part you have in common with the women to whom you feel superior, is "of her dreams."
Women should marry the men God sets in front of them and with whom they sincerely and sensibly fall in love. Women should also consider their actual concrete talents, education, training and opportunities before pursuing a career. And most women don't have careers. They have jobs so that they can eat and keep a roof over their heads. Countless thousands or millions of women toil in rice paddies or pick garbage just to stay alive.
Now, to give up beating up on you for a moment, congratulations on having such a marketable degree. If you are in the USA, you can command a hefty salary as an RN (not so much in Canada, believe me). It seems a great shame that now you hold nursing in so much abhorrence. All that work--for what?
However, there it is. You don't want to get a nursing job, and you have a passion for writing music. You say you are an amateur. I know many well-trained musicians--musicians with doctorates, musicians with masters degrees--and they barely scrape together a living. Some teach. Some have office jobs. Some wait tables. Very few artists make a living through their art. VERY few. Heaven knows I don't. Jeepers!
Of the trained musicians I know, two are also composers. The one who worked his butt off for two decades to become a biggish cheese in the opera world may have made money from the opera he wrote, but I doubt it. The other one, who writes liturgical music---. I don't want to think about it.
If I were you, I wouldn't quit my day job, so to speak. At least not yet. I'd take a nursing contract--just for a six months, say--and see how I liked it. I imagine that there must be many different KINDS of nursing, so I would pick the kind I liked best, e.g. pediatrics.
Of course, since you had a great time with the Catholic organization, you might want to explore how you could help another organization. The Jesuit Refugee Service, for example, might be looking for nurses. If what you can't stand about nursing is the standard Stateside system, then maybe leaving the system for a charitable organization is for you.
As a reward for six months of solid work, I would give myself a nice trip when my term was up. Meanwhile, I'd start asking experts in the field if I had great musical gifts and if it would be worthwhile to pursue a career in musical composition. Depending on the genre, I might try to join or form a band.
In short, get a decent contract that makes you independent of your parents and enjoy your hobby in your spare time. Talk to experts before you kneecap your ability to support yourself.
Meanwhile, you might want--in fairness--to bounce your idea off your parents. I can imagine that while many parents would be happy to financially support their children while they looked for a practical job, most would suddenly be reluctant if their children announced that they were just going to stay at home and write music instead. Of course, if they think you are the next Cole Porter, they will probably be delighted.
I hope this is helpful.
Grace and peace,