A letter to The Guardian‘s career advice column asks for help with the safety/risk dilemma:
All my life I seem to have gone for second best – I have had dreams and ambitions but end up going for Plan B, because Plan A is scarier. Plan A is a dream of being an artist, or film-maker; but I know I am missing a lot of skills which you need in order to succeed at these kinds of jobs.
I will be job hunting soon and I am scared I will just do what I always seem to, which is panic and take some Plan B job to support myself , which ultimately I don’t like and can’t do, and which once again will take up all my time and leave me no freedom to do the things I love. I want to do what I love and get paid for it.
Doesn’t this just sum up the “employment versus life” problem? It’s the quintessential fork in the roads in choosing to become a wage slave or a free radical.
Here’s the thing. Plan B isn’t safe at all. A lifetime of servitude and dream-squelching is a far higher cost than living in a modest apartment or riding around on a rusty bicycle (if those are indeed the material fears). If you’re reporting to someone else’s office every morning and hating yourself, you’ve already failed, even if your house in the suburbs has four bedrooms in it. Plan B isn’t safe. It’s the most dangerous option, leading as it does to a life of misery.
Moreover, this particular person’s Plan A isn’t particularly risky at all. “Artist” and “Film Maker” are both real jobs. It’s not like he wants to become a professional chocolate-eater or freelance boob-squeezer.
This being said, he probably needs a firmer idea of his Plan A. He wants to become an artist and/or film maker. But what kind of artist? What kind of film maker? And is he confusing a desire to eat cake with a desire to open a bakery?
My feeling is that we shouldn’t fear this kind of risk but mitigate against it by developing a clear and flexible plan. Also, visualise the worst-case scenario: how bad would it really be to live in a modest apartment or ride around on a rusty bicycle, even for the rest of your life? Is it any worse than never, ever, doing what you want?
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