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One of the sad things about growing up is seeing the real side of dreams. Cynicism grows and you can lose your sense of wonder...

A long time ago i thought it would be cool to become a computer programmer when i grew up, specifically a games programmer. You know, write fun software that makes people happy, that anyone can pick up and use. When i grew up i discovered that they were generally hardcore math nuts, that they worked 60+ hour weeks for meager pay and faced hellish deadlines. Instead i ended up in business programming, where the hours and pay are much better, but the work is so mind-numbingly abstract you can't even describe your job when you meet someone at a cocktail party. Unless of course you are at a cocktail party exclusively attended by nerds, which is exactly where you end up when you work in the industry - talking about middleware frameworks over martinis.

So i dreamed of going back to music, of making it a career somehow. I thought i could just sit around in a studio making beautiful music every day. It never really occurred to me that being a successful musician really means spending half your life in a bus or an airport, staying up late every night to play shows, always being on display. It means signing contracts that demand you come up with something new and commercially viable every couple years. Either that or you keep your artistic integrity by subsisting on ramen and writing music for the same tiny clique of self-congratulatory die-hards who will eventually get married, have kids and move on. Inevitably you end up doing sessions or making beats for someone else, or maybe writing lousy jingles for used car dealerships.

Lots of things i dreamed about, i thought to myself: what a career that would make! Then i met people, i made friends who were "living the dream" and saw the reality was never quite as rosy as it once appeared. So i turn around and look at business programming and think perhaps it isn't so bad - i got paid $90,000 to sit on my ass all day and move around lines of code to make some dull business logic happen. I can't really complain, especially knowing that there is no real "dream job", that none of the jobs that seemed so appealing as a kid really exist the way i imagined. Astronauts don't just fly spaceships, they have to be scientists too. Cops don't really kick ass and take names, they deal with drunks and bums and write reports. Artists don't create in a vacuum, they need to be shameless self-promoters. Superheroes don't even exist at all :(

But i think facing the reality of other careers actually makes it easier for me to consider changing. I'm under no illusions any more.

I was attracted to computer programming 20 years ago because it was the only job that really seemed like you'd get to spend a lot of time with technology. 10 years ago everything changed and now everyone has a computer, everyone has the internet and everyone can be an expert. People who don't touch a computer at work can come home and google like a pro. I can get all the exposure to technology that i crave without having to make it my career. In the last six months i haven't done anything related to software development; i have no idea if any new frameworks have come out or what the new trends are. I just don't care. I still love technology, i love computers and the internet and all the new discoveries you read about in the media, but i don't need to be an expert in software development to appreciate these things.

Just like i probably don't need to be a chef to enjoy cooking, or be a professional musician to enjoy playing an instrument, or a critic to enjoy movies. So where do i want to invest my time, my career? I know i could succeed doing anything if i just put my mind to it, so how about choosing something that is rewarding in a way beyond feeding a casual interest? How do i want to contribute, make a difference? And how do i keep my options for emigrating open at the same time?

I am thinking of doing a masters. Heh.
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