I’m having a crisis of sorts at the moment – although perhaps crisis is a slight exaggeration – but I’m at what I consider to be a rather significant fork in the road and I don’t know which path to take.
I have decided to go back to university to pursue a masters, but I don’t know which masters to take. There are two options that I’m considering:
Option 1: MSc in Software Development at Queens University, Belfast
Option 2: MRes in Arts in the Drama department focusing on Gender & Performance at Ulster University, Magee Campus, Derry
The first option leads to a specified career path with clear earning potential, the opportunity to work abroad if desired and the ability to pay back my loans within a few years.
The second option leads to a PhD with the opportunity to further research in the area of gender and performance with a focus on non-binary gender narratives and transgender bodies.
It’s basically a choice between my head and my heart. There are a lot of considerations, such as: where do I want to be in a few years time? Is money important to me? Can I pursue performance around gender outside of academia and if so, is there a benefit to doing this within a university setting?
Other considerations are around funding options and career options, such as: do I want to spend the rest of my life researching gender and performance? Can I obtain funding to do so? Is it more important to have a job I love than a job that pays? Can I love software development? Can I combine the two (e.g. software development with a focus on furthering trans rights?)
There are so many questions and so few answers, so I’ve decided to chat to a few friends who have done or are doing a PhD on similar research topics. I think I’m going to apply for both options anyway and make a decision further down the line (in a few months) but it’s a hard choice. Part of me wants to work towards furthering mainstream understanding of gender outside of the binary, and part of me just wants to live my life and not spend all my time focusing on gender issues.
I know that I’m frustrated with being poor – this was my original motivation for considering the MSc in Software Development. I also know that I have an internal drive to change the world – it’s something that I’ve always had within me from a young age, and my desire for social justice has influenced a lot of my past choices. I decided to pursue media studies for my undergraduate studies because I saw how the media misrepresented minorities and I wanted to change that from within.
But I turn 30 this year. I still have a lot of debts, I don’t have a clear career path at the moment, I have very little earning potential at the moment and I’m so tired of having to fight tooth and nail to get a job to pays the bills. I’m tired of being poor. I have also realised that I really struggle with the requirements for being a freelance worker. Working freelance requires a lot of self-promotion, a lot of initiating contact with potential employers, a lot of uncertainty around future earnings – all the things, in short, that are required to be a good salesperson. And I DETEST sales!!!!! I really, really, REALLY abhor selling myself to people. I enjoy the work of being a video editor, but I cannot hack the pressure of constantly having to put myself out there. I am much more introverted than I appear, and I hate asking people for things.
So here’s the cinch: following my passions will require applying for funding, pitching my projects to strangers, selling myself to others in the hope of being paid to do research. The question is, can I do this? I’m already exhausted from the past year of working freelance – can I continue to go down this path?
If anyone has any thoughts on this, feel free to leave a comment – all advice is welcomed!