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    Need Advice

    Hi everyone, I haven't posted on CA in a while as I've been busy with school, but I'm in need of some advice.

    So I have $45,000 in student debt, and I'm not even close to getting my associates degree. Before college, I naively chose to go to an art school, because, at the time, I believed that I was going to be a really great artist and I would be working in the industry someday. Well, I realized that I'm probably never going to be any good at making art; I also learned that I hate making art for other people and I learned how stressful working in the industry really is—I decided that it's not for me.

    I'm not even sure if I should finish college now because I'm in so much debt... By the time I would get my bachelors, I would be in college for over six years and put myself in even more debt. I'm not sure what school I want to go to, I'm not sure what I should study, and I don't know what I want to do after I graduate. I heard that job outlooks are better for people with college degrees, but I don't think it's worth it at this point with so much debt...

    I'm not gifted in anything... I am the worst at math and anything that's really structured, I'm just incompetent at it, and I'm not very good at communicating with other people—both of which are huge aspects for any real job it seems...

    Right now I'm living at home with my parents, out in the boonies, and I don't have a car of my own to at least get a really crappy job.

    What can I do?

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    IDK man...rough situation. I will say it's good to be aware and begin to consider some alternatives. My advice would be to look into or think about some focused technical or trade school options. I would mainly look at things that let you be somewhat independent (as opposed to being in team situations) and aren't math/engineering heavy. Things like truck driver, dental hygeine, heavy equipment operator, welding, etc. I'm sure there are many others. A trade school will be much more focused and shorter duration, costing you less and getting you to work faster. Best of luck - just work hard and go for it!

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    Try and see if your school can hook you up with a proper career counselor. One that can help you match up your strengths and interests with various career options.

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    Also, you communicate pretty well via writing. So there's one skill you've got. I wouldn't turn it into a writing career since it's a lot easier to pay off student loans as a welder, but it's still a strength. If you can communicate well one way, learning to communicate well in a different way might just be a matter of more practice.

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    [Merlyn, responsible for raising the boy who is destined to become the king of England, is an unusual teacher. Here, he tries to help young Wart/Arthur cope with frustration and sadness.]

    "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn--pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics--why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until is it is time to learn to plough."



    Merlyn, advising the young King Arthur in T. H. White's The Once and Future King, Berkeley Medallion Edition, July, 1966, page 183.

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    Jeff speaks wisdom. Many of the jobs people sniffingly call "trades" are reasonably enjoyable to do and pay crap-tons of money. We've done a terrible disservice to the upcoming generation of kids by telling them that the creative professions are the only ones worth pursuing, and that loving what you do for a living is a must.

    The world needs a hell of a lot more truck drivers than it does illustrators, and it pays accordingly.

    Look for trade schools or apprenticeships. Might even be some government programs or other subsidized training.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    [Merlyn, responsible for raising the boy who is destined to become the king of England, is an unusual teacher. Here, he tries to help young Wart/Arthur cope with frustration and sadness.]

    "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn--pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics--why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until is it is time to learn to plough."



    Merlyn, advising the young King Arthur in T. H. White's The Once and Future King, Berkeley Medallion Edition, July, 1966, page 183.
    Yikes, that's terrible writing.

    I preferred The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, myself.

    Re Trades. Here in the UK, there's been such a lack of interest in some trades they're now crying out for stonemasons and the like. If I had the sight, I'd love to do that for a living, or drive a truck.

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    Thanks Stoat...electricians and plumbers do great too. In these trades you really are pretty self-directed. Sure you interact with others but you're mainly operating on your own. If I had to do it over again I would seriously have thought about heavy equipment...awesome fun! Or machinist. We have two optometrists and a dentist in the family - all with their own offices...completely independent people.

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    It's not all rainbows and pony rides in the trades, though. Sometimes there isn't enough demand and you can have trouble getting enough hours to earn your ticket. Some workplaces are pretty good, others are highly questionable and the idiot working next you might accidentally kill you. In general you're going to work hard for your money. Still, there's more demand for a guy who can fix your leaky pipes or install a furnace or air conditioner than there is for someone to paint you a picture.

    One benefit of being in the trades, though, is that once you get to know what good work is, there is endless amusement in the parade of bad work you have to look at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    If I had to do it over again I would seriously have thought about heavy equipment...awesome fun!
    I wish I'd gone here as a kid - who knew digging holes was so much fun.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarkizon View Post
    I'm not gifted in anything... I am the worst at math and anything that's really structured, I'm just incompetent at it, and I'm not very good at communicating with other people—both of which are huge aspects for any real job it seems...
    It's a bad situation but I'd like to point out that to be good at something, you don't have to be "gifted" you have to work at it. Be it dental hygienist or concert pianist, there is nothing you can do that is both worth doing and easy to do on the first try. Of course, something things you have to work a few hundred hours or less before being of professional level (some call center work, stocking shelves) and some require 10 000 hours but if you think you can just float around until you find something you are good at, you might float forever. Maybe you worry that everything looks easier to others, but sometimes it's not that it's easier, it's just that you don't see them struggle.

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    Firstly I would like to point out that the most important thing to remember in these situations is not to despair, this will lead to ill considered decisions.
    I am not overly familiar with the situation concerning the American jobs market (beyond what I read in the paper) but here in the UK I feel that one of the qualities young people are not being taught about is the requirement of being adaptable.
    I do not think that career paths are at all linear in today’s’ society, and certainly for graduates; you must be willing to take on work outside of you r chosen field in order to support your progress, certainly within the creative industries.

    In regards to the current concern, I would advise you to speak to a career advisor, look into possible work experience programmes in areas you think you may have an interest, try to get to some job fairs, and remember you are not alone in this problem.

    Good luck

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    Sorry I didn't reply to all your posts in time, I had subscribed to this thread using different email address, so I didn't know that others had responded!

    Thank you for the advice, everyone. I've started skimming around for jobs that I might be interested in doing, though I can't say that I have any passion for any of them. I might be interested in being an electrician... but only because I like working with wires—I really have no idea what working as an electrician (or any other job) would be like. The community college I will be attending actually offers associate degrees in Skilled Trades with a concentration in one of several areas, electrician being one of them; the college also has a career advisor, so I suppose that I will meet with them sometime... maybe.

    My dad really wants me to get a Bachelor's degree and he wants me to go to this extremely expensive private school because he thinks that I will like it. If I go there and get my degree I will be in $150,000 in student debt, perhaps even higher. He keeps telling me that I'll pay off my student debt eventually, but we're talking something like five times higher than the average student debt. He thinks that I still want to go into art, but I'm telling him that I'm no good at it, I'll hate doing it for a living, and there's hardly any money in it. He wanted to know what my dream job was, and I told him that if I could have any job then I would be a freelance illustrator (I know that I just said that I would hate it, and I would, but this was always my dream job before I changed my mind about everything) but then he's like, well that's not a job and that he thinks I want to work in the industry... I tell him that I will hate my life if I do that.

    My sister thinks I should drop out of college and just start working, but then I'll have to start paying off my student debt right away and the payments are like $430 a month...


    I don't know what to do... I feel really bad about not going into art, because I promised myself that I would end up becoming a really great artist, but I don't think that will ever happen. I'm years and years away from getting any good at drawing and painting. I feel like I've failed sort of... it's hard to explain. I don't know, it's making me feel sick thinking about all this...

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    Coming from someone in pretty much the same position as you (at least in regards to the debt thing and living with your parents)

    Meet with your career advisor. Just do it. As soon as possible. Make a list of EVERYTHING you need to talk about and bring it to the meeting. They can help you.

    If art's not a viable career option, search for any general job. Even retail or fast food is better than nothing. Go to a financial counselor if things really get bad. Remember that you are far from alone in this-there are thousands of people in the exact same position as you or worse because of this economy. Getting turned down for a job does not mean there is something wrong with you, it means there was one other lucky person somewhere who snatched it up before you could. Just keep trying, ask around, and something will come along eventually.

    You are going to have to get a job eventually. This is just a fact of life. Don't just go "well, I don't wanna" at every suggestion you get. Working a job you're not totally 100% devoted to doesn't mean it will suck and it doesn't mean it won't be a good experience. Even if you get a job doing art for other people, that doesn't mean you can't also draw for yourself. Us artists are lucky that we have a chance to actually earn money doing something we already eat, sleep and breathe anyway.

    Also, not to internet diagnose, but try to see a doctor to see if you may have anxiety or depression. I only say this because I've personally experienced this and I know that getting help has made it a lot easier for me to handle the stress of the job search, loan payments, and all that other shitty Responsible Adult crap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarkizon View Post
    I don't know what to do... I feel really bad about not going into art, because I promised myself that I would end up becoming a really great artist, but I don't think that will ever happen. I'm years and years away from getting any good at drawing and painting. I feel like I've failed sort of... it's hard to explain. I don't know, it's making me feel sick thinking about all this...
    You don't need to abandon your dream completely. There are lots of people who have day jobs and work on their art in their spare time, and some of them become quite successful. You can't fail completely until you're dead. Maybe your art will take a turn that you don't expect. Maybe you'll find an opportunity in 10 years that doesn't exist now. Maybe you'll always do it part time, but you'll have shows in your hometown and you'll be quite happy. You never know. All you can do is work to keep yourself alive so that you get more chances in the future.

    Wherever you work, you're going to get material for future art projects. You don't need it to be a job you have passion for, you just need it to be a job that you don't loathe that keeps you going so you can keep making art at night.

    Don't get any further into debt if you can help it, though. There's no guarantee that you'll have a job at the end of it, and even if you pay it off eventually it's not worth the years of stress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Candra H View Post
    Yikes, that's terrible writing.

    I preferred The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, myself.
    piss off.



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    ^Haha. Cheeky Bastard.

    Zarkizon, you know what? It sounds like you need a bit of a time out. Get away from anything to do with thinking about your future or debts or careers or any of that intimidating shit. Get out and have fun for a while and don't think about anything. That way, when you come back to this, it all might seem a little less daunting.

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    hehe no one disses the once and future king. no one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarkizon View Post
    My sister thinks I should drop out of college and just start working, but then I'll have to start paying off my student debt right away and the payments are like $430 a month...
    No, they aren't. Or, at least, they don't have to be. In addition to some career counseling, you may also see if your school or local area has debt counseling. Your school should definitely have someone in the financial aid department that you can talk to about the consolidation process and recent changes to student loans. This will all depend on what types of loans you have, but here's what I know of the process from the last year or so. First, your loans used to be shopped around to different lending companies, like Citibank or whatever, and that's who you paid back. Not so anymore. Now, you pay back the government, basically. When you consolidate, they will fix all of your interest rates (like if it was 6% variable, it gets fixed at 6%), and then average them. So instead of 5 or 6 different interest rates, you'll have one that won't ever change. This is good. Then, you'll have a few different options, like a graduated repayment plan (wherein your payments might start at $150 and then increase to $500 over the course of ten or twenty years) -- this is a great plan if your chosen career field starts out as an apprenticeship or something, but you expect to make much, much more in the future. Explore all of your options and what you can feasibly afford. For your situation, though, I think you are probably best suited for the income-based payment plan. Thanks to Obama, you can now send your tax information (like a signed tax return thing), and they will calculate a payment based off of your yearly income. It won't be more than 15% of your income, I believe. It may be 15% of your expendable income (although I have no clue how they determine what's expendable). Either way, you may very well end up paying nothing for this year, although interest will continue to accrue on your loans (meaning you could end up paying way more in the long run if you suddenly find yourself rich). Every year, you have to send them your tax information and they adjust your payment accordingly. After 20 years, the remainder of your debt is forgiven, which is controversial and best not to mention to your cousin in front of your very republican grandparents. At any time, if your financial situation changes, you can switch from the income based repayment plan to a more conventional plan (like 10 years of even payments, or whatever). Also consider, depending upon your future career choices, that working in a career deemed as public service can get your student loan debts forgiven after 10 years.

    There are options, so don't feel that you have no where to turn and you've ruined your life with debt before you even got started.

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    All I can recommend is milk all of the things they offer to you at that college while you are enrolled. You're going to be in debt no matter what, so you might as well make the most of the staff and on campus resources. As above people said, talk to a career councilor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetguts View Post
    Coming from someone in pretty much the same position as you (at least in regards to the debt thing and living with your parents)

    Meet with your career advisor. Just do it. As soon as possible. Make a list of EVERYTHING you need to talk about and bring it to the meeting. They can help you.

    If art's not a viable career option, search for any general job. Even retail or fast food is better than nothing. Go to a financial counselor if things really get bad. Remember that you are far from alone in this-there are thousands of people in the exact same position as you or worse because of this economy. Getting turned down for a job does not mean there is something wrong with you, it means there was one other lucky person somewhere who snatched it up before you could. Just keep trying, ask around, and something will come along eventually.

    You are going to have to get a job eventually. This is just a fact of life. Don't just go "well, I don't wanna" at every suggestion you get. Working a job you're not totally 100% devoted to doesn't mean it will suck and it doesn't mean it won't be a good experience. Even if you get a job doing art for other people, that doesn't mean you can't also draw for yourself. Us artists are lucky that we have a chance to actually earn money doing something we already eat, sleep and breathe anyway.

    Also, not to internet diagnose, but try to see a doctor to see if you may have anxiety or depression. I only say this because I've personally experienced this and I know that getting help has made it a lot easier for me to handle the stress of the job search, loan payments, and all that other shitty Responsible Adult crap.
    I will be meeting with a career advisor at my community college ASAP, however I will not be going to school until the summer session starts up, so that's in several months.

    I hate making art for other people. It's torture. I have no interest in the subject matter they want done, and it makes it awfully unenjoyable. I have no confidence in my artistic skills, so I'm beginning to hate making art.

    I guess I'll just have to start applying for jobs then—though it's kind of difficult without transportation... no experience... no proof of higher education... no idea of what I would like doing. I don't think that there is any kind of job that I would be even 50% devoted to... any money I would get would go to the gas bill just to get to work, so there's really no income at all.

    I have been trying to convince my parents that I am not mentally well. My sisters have both been diagnosed with depression and social anxiety, I think that I have those too, but my parents don't think that there's anything wrong with me, that I'm just, "In a funk." I don't even know where to go to get diagnosed... a family doctor? I don't know where to find a specialized person.

    Quote Originally Posted by vineris View Post
    You don't need to abandon your dream completely. There are lots of people who have day jobs and work on their art in their spare time, and some of them become quite successful. You can't fail completely until you're dead. Maybe your art will take a turn that you don't expect. Maybe you'll find an opportunity in 10 years that doesn't exist now. Maybe you'll always do it part time, but you'll have shows in your hometown and you'll be quite happy. You never know. All you can do is work to keep yourself alive so that you get more chances in the future.

    Wherever you work, you're going to get material for future art projects. You don't need it to be a job you have passion for, you just need it to be a job that you don't loathe that keeps you going so you can keep making art at night.

    Don't get any further into debt if you can help it, though. There's no guarantee that you'll have a job at the end of it, and even if you pay it off eventually it's not worth the years of stress.
    I'm mainly convinced that I will never have any time to make art. Go to school full time and get a job full time just to pay for rent, and somehow study when I'm working just to stay in school? How am I ever going to have any time for art with that? Then a full time job in the future? I work best on art in the morning, with a full-time job, I will be on my way to work during that time. When I come home, I'll be so tired that I just won't want to do it anymore. It's all over.

    Quote Originally Posted by Candra H View Post
    Zarkizon, you know what? It sounds like you need a bit of a time out. Get away from anything to do with thinking about your future or debts or careers or any of that intimidating shit. Get out and have fun for a while and don't think about anything. That way, when you come back to this, it all might seem a little less daunting.
    I'm taking this semester of school off. Unfortunately, I took the time off to devote to thinking about which school I should go to, what I should study, and how I'll even manage it. I've been trying to practice drawing, but I hate it, I think about how awful I'll be at this and never be happy with my work.

    Quote Originally Posted by erinc View Post
    No, they aren't. Or, at least, they don't have to be. In addition to some career counseling, you may also see if your school or local area has debt counseling. Your school should definitely have someone in the financial aid department that you can talk to about the consolidation process and recent changes to student loans. This will all depend on what types of loans you have, but here's what I know of the process from the last year or so. First, your loans used to be shopped around to different lending companies, like Citibank or whatever, and that's who you paid back. Not so anymore. Now, you pay back the government, basically. When you consolidate, they will fix all of your interest rates (like if it was 6% variable, it gets fixed at 6%), and then average them. So instead of 5 or 6 different interest rates, you'll have one that won't ever change. This is good. Then, you'll have a few different options, like a graduated repayment plan (wherein your payments might start at $150 and then increase to $500 over the course of ten or twenty years) -- this is a great plan if your chosen career field starts out as an apprenticeship or something, but you expect to make much, much more in the future. Explore all of your options and what you can feasibly afford. For your situation, though, I think you are probably best suited for the income-based payment plan. Thanks to Obama, you can now send your tax information (like a signed tax return thing), and they will calculate a payment based off of your yearly income. It won't be more than 15% of your income, I believe. It may be 15% of your expendable income (although I have no clue how they determine what's expendable). Either way, you may very well end up paying nothing for this year, although interest will continue to accrue on your loans (meaning you could end up paying way more in the long run if you suddenly find yourself rich). Every year, you have to send them your tax information and they adjust your payment accordingly. After 20 years, the remainder of your debt is forgiven, which is controversial and best not to mention to your cousin in front of your very republican grandparents. At any time, if your financial situation changes, you can switch from the income based repayment plan to a more conventional plan (like 10 years of even payments, or whatever). Also consider, depending upon your future career choices, that working in a career deemed as public service can get your student loan debts forgiven after 10 years.

    There are options, so don't feel that you have no where to turn and you've ruined your life with debt before you even got started.
    I will have to verify this. My parents told me that I'll do what they did and just defer their loans... for over 20 years... and have horrible credit like they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harkins View Post
    All I can recommend is milk all of the things they offer to you at that college while you are enrolled. You're going to be in debt no matter what, so you might as well make the most of the staff and on campus resources. As above people said, talk to a career councilor.
    There's no time for that while in school! All I do is work on art!! I will spend my entire school day working on art projects, then everything is closed by the time I'm finished. Besides, the school I was at last semester would fine you for making use of their services... counseling... career advising. It was a joke. The administration at the three colleges that I've been to are horrible.

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    I think that it is important to retain a little perspective, and I speak as one of many people who have experienced similar concerns/obstacles.

    When faced with the day-to-day responsibilities of working, paying bills etc, you should try to view the different aspects of your life
    as separate projects, compartmentalise, and by doing so you will be able to concentrate on what needs to be done, and how you can achieve this.

    In regards to your doubts about not having experience, transportation etc, again these are factors everybody deals with, and the fact of the matter is
    that life is never perfect, and in order to get by, you need to adapt, accept that your day job may not be exactly what you want to be doing, but at least you will have an income, and this will open up your opportunities, and allow you to pay off some of your debts.

    If you feel that you are suffering from depression/anxiety then I would recommend seeing your family doctor, you may feel that the situation is hopeless,
    but speaking to a medical professional will allow you to understand the situation, and hopefully provide a certain relief. Without venturing into diagnosis, sometimes we can feel like we are suffering a psychological condition, and the truth is we just need to take a little time out, but again, I would seek a medical opinion in this matter.

    Good Luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarkizon View Post
    I'm mainly convinced that I will never have any time to make art. Go to school full time and get a job full time just to pay for rent, and somehow study when I'm working just to stay in school? How am I ever going to have any time for art with that? Then a full time job in the future? I work best on art in the morning, with a full-time job, I will be on my way to work during that time. When I come home, I'll be so tired that I just won't want to do it anymore. It's all over.
    It's what I did for a good 7 years. 5 years after I got my job, I decided to take art seriously and for 7 years after that I'd come home, decompress, eat dinner and make comics. If I had been a morning person I'd have probably set my alarm for some ridiculous hour of the morning.

    Right now you're freaked out and not thinking clearly. When you're in a crisis, problems seem insurmountable and creative solutions impossible. Especially if you might also be depressed. When you're in a more stable situation you'll start finding ways around your problems. But only if you still want to do art -- it's pretty darn hard to make time for something you hate to do.

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    This is anecdotal but I was talking to a friend about becoming an electrician and she told me that her bro-in law is an electrician and doesn't like it because he keeps getting laid off in the winter as hours are cut and projects wind down. On the flip side she has another relative who's an electrician who completely and totally loves it but it sounds like he budgets for the slow periods. Both of them have to drive long hours to get to the work locations which is not counted as paid hours. I'd suggest talking to some local electricians to see what they say about their jobs to get some more background info.

    "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
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    Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning ——

    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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    Very inspiring words Velocity Kendall

    I think that to some extent, the issues we are discussing here are experiences everybody deals with, and that it is not something that is exclusive to people who choose to pursue creative subjects.

    Choosing to aspire to work in the creative industries is certainly difficult at times, and I believe that we experience this discouragement several times at least during our early life, initially, when you make that transition from high school to college, and realise that you have to up your game, and then again when you enter the work environment, and for some, this can take a little time to adapt to, it is not something that should make you feel trapped or indeed a failure.

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    I like that line because its not some idiotic motivational poster tagline. It acknowledges that we all spend our lives running from the past toward imagined goals that move further and further away, but we do it anyway, because, well, you might as well right?

    "Choosing to aspire to work in the creative industries is certainly difficult at times, and I believe that we experience this discouragement several times at least during our early life, initially,"

    which is ridiculous, really, because most people in this shitty world have to do stuff like this every day:



    which makes living in safety and drawing all day basically heaven byb comparison. as William Shakespeare once said "dont be a fucken puss."

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; February 27th, 2013 at 08:46 AM.
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  41. #28
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    I agree with you, but I think the point I am illustrating here, is that any creative process is not without its disappointment,
    and that people who want to pursue a career in those industries, must realise it can be a difficult career path.

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