The last great epiphany I had was that I didn't want to be an academic. I'd been planning to attend a doctoral program since tenth grade, and I daydreamed about being a professor in a small college town. Then last summer, I had this huge crisis where I realized that that wasn't what I wanted at all. Sure, I would probably make a damn good grad student and professor. But I needed a job that I really cared about, and it was weird to realize that I didn't care about my field of interest anymore.
I spent a week in utter panic, since my B.A. wouldn't get me much of a job (Staples is a case in point), until I realized that law school was an option. Then I realized that the LSAT was easy. Then I realized that I would make a damn good lawyer. Not the kind of lawyer they show on television or movies, but the kind that writes contracts and deals with businessmen and prevention, and helps people with their very practical problems.
It would solve so many variables in my life: My fiance wants to be a stay-at-home dad, God bless him, and a lawyer's salary would let that happen. We wouldn't be rich, but it would be good enough; we wouldn't have to move around aimlessly looking for anyplace willing to give me a job; we could have kids sooner, in the next four or five years instead of a longer, intolerable wait.
Thinking about law school made me realize that I didn't understand my personality at all. I always thought I was an intellectual who liked abstract thought. I thought I liked philosophy, for example, since I enjoyed the few phil classes I did take. I still am those things, but I completely missed my desire to help people. Somewhere along the line, I developed a hunger for the "real world" of business suits and briefcases with real briefs inside them.
I think a few things helped me realize this about myself. First and foremost was falling in love and getting engaged, which brought up a slew of questions that I still don't feel old enough to fully tackle. I don't doubt any of my decisions, but I was just floored by how much responsibility I was going to be taking on. Who was I to talk about writing history books and getting tenure when I suddenly wanted a husband and children and needed to provide for them? What good does it do to have your head in the clouds?
Second, it was my conversion to Catholicism, which, strange as it sounds, also helped pull my head out of the clouds. I see the homeless people around here more fully. I see God in strangers and realize that I can't stay in my safe cocoon of familiar friends anymore. I have to go out and help them. Catholic social teaching resonates so well with me that it really changed the way I think about (yes, it's corny) the purpose of life.
Third, I was getting bored with my degree. I'd done it all, and even though I jumped through all their hoops, I really didn't like writing about my field. I didn't like the research. For me, that's weird because I love writing. But it just seemed like a waste of time.
So that's the last epiphany I had. I was going to write about my conversion, but that happened a rather long time ago, now.