How can you possibly know?

I do a maths degree. I’m just about to finish it, then I’m out into the big wide world and I have to get a job.

But, what if I don’t like maths as a job?

My point of this post is: how can you possibly know if you like something as a job if all you’ve ever done is learn it?

I mean, I know I like learning maths, new things all the time and I’m pretty good at it which is nice. But that in no way prepares me for what a job doing maths would actually be like.

What if I hate it? I have no way of knowing if I will or won’t.

And that’s scary.

People seem to expect you to at least have a vague plan of where you’re going by the time you’re finishing university. They ask ‘What are you going to do next?’ And I reply ‘Maybe something to do with maths, and maybe writing, I like writing so if I can blend the two then I think I’ll like that.’ And I think that’s a reasonable response. But sometimes it can feel a little ‘fluffy’, like I’m not really answering them.

I feel a pressure sometimes to want to go into maths and a reasonably high paid job, like I have to live up to my abilities with the return I get. But what if what I really love doesn’t earn me that much? Should I feel guilty? What if I don’t love maths outside the classroom?

You see, my dream job (or at least what I think it is right now) is to write. Novels, possibly magazine articles for science magazines, but at least write something.

The problem is, I don’t know if I’m good enough at it. There’s never been a definitive test to say ‘yep, you’re this good at writing.’

That uncertainty makes me nervous.

And, it’s only vaguely related to maths. Which can be an issue when you’re still dependant on other people and they want you to go into maths. They still have power over you. As my dad says: ‘When you’re still dependant on people, they have a say in what you do. When you’re independent, everything’s up to you.’ (That may not be a direct quote but you get the idea.)

So really I just have to figure myself out enough to gain independence, then I can decide for myself. Guilt be damned. Eventually I’ll discover if I’m good enough at writing, or if I love something completely different.

And really, I shouldn’t feel bad if there are no maths jobs out there I like. As long as I’m happy and can support myself I’m okay, right?

This has apparently been a ‘thought for the day.’ Thanks for reading.

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