In an effort to find something that will not only make life worth the trouble, but also pay the bills, I have been going through the Oxford Career Program
, which is in turn itself largely a vehicle for the Highlands Ability Battery
. Although not "Find a job TODAY!" useful, there have been some interesting results.
My personal style tested as "introvert specialist," which is probably a "no duh" moment for anyone who knows me, but which explains a lot of my work history when you delve more deeply into it. Specialists tend to want to find something they really like and get really, really good at it– and in turn they want their skills and expertise to be recognized. They want to be world class at something and to be acknowledged to be world class at it... which is something that's been bugging me forever. I left the graphic design field because it was so sneered at and moved to web design, in which I was doing largely the same job but getting accolades because I knew how the magic black box of computers worked... until suddenly web design started getting sneered at, too. Well guess what, pointy-haired bosses of the world? Design, good design, is hard work. You can't just sneeze something onto a page and have it be "fine." Even if you
don't have the discernment to tell the difference yourself, your clients and customers will
, and you'll pay for it.
*ahem* Sorry. Old wounds. Anyway.
Another interesting thing is that I came up with very high scores on all of the "Driving Abilities," and my vocab score was so high that the counselor said she'd never encountered anyone with that high a score before. People in the 99th percentile on vocab tend to literally be "world class," top-of-the-industry CEOs, heads of state, and so on. In short, I have a ton of "natural talent" for almost anything.
Which naturally leads to the question, If I'm so smart, why aren't I rich?
Funny thing about that. Most people have one or two high scores, and the rest are middling or low. That means they have a clear path to success: play to your strengths! Having high scores all around... means that my abilities begin to interfere with each other.
High Idea Productivity means I'm creative and come up with a lot of solutions or approaches to a problem– but high Classification means that I get mired in self-criticism and vapor-lock. (Guilty!) High Concept Organization coupled with super-high Vocabulary naturally points to writer– but high Spatial Relations Theory and Spatial Relations Visualization mean I am only likely to be happy if there's a strong visual component and an actual physical object at the end, thus leading me to feel compelled to draw comics even though writing books would be so much more efficient use of my time.
In short, being potentially-good at everything means that I have trouble concentrating on anything, and that concentration and focus is what is required for the specialist style to thrive.
It also turns out I'm super-bad at Number Memory, which is to say, the rote memorization of stuff. I mean seriously bad. 5% bad. All those years feeling like there was just a loud buzzing noise in my ear while trying to memorize multiplication tables? Not my imagination. Combine that with high Idea Productivity, and you've got somebody who can't sit still while trying to do arithmetic.
Combine super-low Number Memory with high Classification and high Spatial Relations, and you've got somebody who can see the vast patterns of the cosmos at work, but has trouble remembering names, dates, phone numbers, the steps required to get all his clothes on in the right order, and so forth. If something doesn't really matter to me, it falls out of my head.
Basically, the classical absent-minded professor. :-`
Now as fascinating as all this is, it doesn't provide immediate help for my current problem, to wit: I am going broke. I keep paying off things... only to have more things come due. :P I am rapidly burning through my savings, spending at a much higher rate than I did back when I had a "day job," mostly against my will. My insurance is simultaneously much more costly than it was before, and
covers less, which means that these ridiculously expensive medical procedures are coming largely straight out of my pocket on top of paying through the nose for the insurance. If this continues much longer, my liquid savings will be gone and retirement will be next.
The actual "trying to come up with potential jobs" part is the next stage of the Oxford Program, and I intend to keep going with it, but I don't have the time to just sit around and wait for this cake to bake. So in the meantime, I have started working towards offering my services to the world as a technical writer and editor. Technical writing isn't particularly "sexy," but it is a well-paying gig with good growth potential. It also fits that "introvert specialist" spot nicely. It doesn't do much for the Spatial Relations problem of needing a concrete product to show at the end, but that's something I can still get through doing the comics on the side.
I don't necessarily think that "tech writer" is the endgame in my career search. Certainly I wouldn't be happy writing software user manuals for the rest of my life. But I do think it's movement in the right direction, and I'm hoping it can be a segue into something better. I could see myself potentially being a research assistant at the Smithsonian or Monterey Aquarium or something like that, for instance, and tech writing could move me that way. The big trick will be to avoid burnout. I don't want a tech writing day job to suck all the passion out of my fiction/comics writing in the meantime!
Wish me luck. :) Also, if you know of any tech writing or editing gigs, a heads-up would be appreciated. ^.^'