That was the beginning of my little pre-life crisis. We talked a bit, and she suggested a few different options for my undergraduate career:
- Follow my current plan; double major in math and physics.
- Major in Physics and graduate in 3 years.
- Major in Physics, graduate in 4 years, and - as a result - have a light course load, allowing me to do lots of research.
- Become an economist instead of physicist - it pays way better, has way more job options, and is still mathematics-based, so I'd enjoy it.
Karen later suggested that I consider Law school.
What do I do? The worse part is that Dr. Marinesque actually gave some pretty good reasons for not being a physicist - which is doubly disturbing, seeing as how she's a physicist. I guess it seems like such a different profession, since we learn about the glorified scientists of Bell Labs and in government research programs and such. It turns out that, today, employment rate for physicists in industry is effectively zero, because nobody does any fundamental research anymore. National Labs (under DoE) does virtually no research either; there is no market for physicists.
So where do you get hired (currently) as a physicist? Academia. And she said that there are 20 to 30 jobs available worldwide per year.
Now, having checked Wikipedia as I write this, I see that she kinda tricked me. Sure, no physicists are hired... to be theorists and researchers. But as I had predicted, physicists are hired in lots of fields where either a general knowledge of science (or just proof that one is an intelligent person) is needed, so I feel kinda better. It was still disturbing, though.
One thing she suggested was that, since I like math, that I become an economist. She cited that:
- Economists are very well paid
- Economists are very much wanted industry/the economy
- I could have an awesome, rich, happy life
But I'm really feeling the physics/math thing, to be honest. Oh, and Karen suggested that I go to law school, which I wouldn't say no to, but that I probably wouldn't say yes to.
You know, I just feel like I'm fooling myself into a romanticized life that'll end up being a huge failure, eh? I don't want that. I want to be successful in whatever I end up doing, so I can live comfortably, support my family.
Perhaps most importantly - and this, I think, is what's the core of my being worried - I want to have time in my life to do what I want. Namely, besides my work responsibilities, I want to have time with my family, I want time to do cool projects with poetry and coding and music, and I really, really want to keep doing martial arts. Like, for the rest of my life.
I mean, I tell people this, but I don't think they take me seriously: I would be really happy opening a kung fu studio. It would make me happy, it would be profitable if I did well with it from a business perspective, et cetera. I would love to do it. But the strange, invisible pressures of society tell me that I can't do that. Something forces me to think that by getting a college education, especially in a science, and then applying that knowledge to the "real" world, I'm a better person.
*sigh* @ being mildly depressed.