Vocation, vocation, vocation: Part 1, casting the internet too wide

After years of letting this online habit fall away, I realised I’d spent a day doing that soulsapping search-a-course-on-the-internet thing. Welcome to the first of a couple of posts about Life Purpose

Girl holding a sign saying 'ologist'

I’d give my back teeth to be an anything-ologist. Laura Lloyd 2016

Surfing yourself silly

Do you do that thing too? I think it’s one of my most subtly self-destructive modes.

I spent a day in this vocation-fuelled identity-crisis mode again one day while I was bedridden with my newborn and mastitis. But the pattern of freaking myself out about a profession is soooo familiar.

It goes like this:

  1. Watch inspiring TED talk by an —–[insert invented area of expertise]ologist (Sexologist? That sounds good). In this case, the wonderful Belgian sexologist Esther Perel. (The previous occasion I did this was with a talk by Kathryn Schultz who calls herself a ‘wrongologist’)
  2. Wonder how I could be an expert in a field (I’m just not one, I’m a generalist by nature, interested in the crossovers between fields and disciplines, only I sometimes go into denial about this: “I need to do some special course or research”)
  3. Look for courses in above field, in any country in the world (Maybe I’ll take the Relate couples’ counselling course! Oh – it’s moved from Plymouth to another university. OK…)
  4. Try to work out if I want to move to the place where the course is (Doncaster? Oh dear. None of my life plans are pointing towards Doncaster).
  5. Realise they are expensive (Blimey, university prices have shot up since I was a girl)
  6. Look up online where the expert trained (USA)
  7. Open another tab and do a bit of parallel browsing. Look up online where to buy nice breastfeeding bras (Marks and Spencer bra size calculator isn’t quite working)
  8. Realise their training wasn’t directly related to the field they’ve ended up in/realise their training was really expensive, lengthy, involved an actual PhD… (now she’s teaching on a course about trauma. And she’s written several books too. How can I catch up?)
  9. Panic about money (Aaaargh! I’ll never qualify in time to make any!!)
  10. Panic about getting too old (Yumph. I’m too old to retrain)
  11. Panic about life purpose (I’m not an Ologist. Shit shit shit)
  12. Panic about the things I’ve invested in not coming to fruition (Increasing the output of my blog is far, far beyond me right now. In fact, I don’t have time to pee, let alone do a PhD).
  13. Panic about all the time I’ve wasted on the internet when I could have been doing a thousand pressing things (Apply for my newborn’s passport! Call the doctor for a hip scan! Open a bank account! Brush up on my German! Read a parenting manual! Get a soluble form of Vitamin D from the chemist!)
  14. Feel a failure for not having sufficiently specialised or professionalised or been employed much (Depressed. Scattered. Depleted. Disorientated. Loss of centredness and identity). And now I’m a mother.
  15. Feel overwhelmed and have a sleep.
  16. Slowly, slowly return to the things I’ve been working on these last years, rediscover my passions, wash my hair, get outside and embody, breathe some air, laugh with my husband, own my ‘failure’, embrace life unfolding and stop trying to control my destiny.