The Tale of Chemical Engineering (Part IV of I)

(Previously parts I, II and III)

At the end of my degree I posted an honest account of the way that I appraised the end of my education and the choices I had to make. 6 months into my work at WG I entered a second part into the series about my thoughts so far. The third, and more vitriolic entry, came when Shayan, Steve and Jonathan all graduated and the whole degree experience as a whole was discussed. 2 years since that original post and the original thoughtful musings on the end of that life, and the fact that 6 = 6 and greater than, another thing has started to creep into my life.

That is of being old, or being older. As of writing this I am 23. I was 21 when I wrote the original post and in those intervening two years a whole shit load of things have changed. My circumstances have got better as my debts slowly dwindle, as my car is slowly paid off, and I am moving on with friends and life. The most interesting thing that has happened to me recently is my failed attempt to leave the Empire for a year’s working in the American States. Houston will be mine next year goddamnit, save for any sudden life changing instances that some of my readers and friends will understand at a personal level.

The application to Houston was something that I was looking forward to – it was a goal, something beyond the limited scope of my recent at-most 2 week planning schedule. It was a pathway to a new life and possibly a new career, as well as the extensive and new experience it would’ve introduced me to. The long lead time that this was going to give me, almost several months of planning and then a year somewhere that had a finite timeline was a big deal… but now that’s been removed suddenly I have a massive gap in my schedule with little or nothing to fill it with other than being alive.

This has lead me to start seriously thinking about the future and what I want to do. Naturally my personality has lead me to think that whilst I can do my job there is limits that I can go to, and this irresponsible modesty has probably been the reason I’m never quite sure if my talky talk that I speak in interviews ever comes across as genuine, or maybe it’s the reason it does. I never lie in those interviews but it never feels natural talking about why I’m better at something because it doesn’t come naturally.

In other circumstances I could’ve done different things – imagine I had gone onto work for Gyrodata, who offered me my first job offer. I’d have been working around the world for different clients in different countries and my life would’ve been totally different. I could’ve gone back to University and done a degree in writing or politics, or something more vocational, and postponed my real life for a few more years. I could’ve gone onto do Teaching like I threatened (and spent £12 applying for) and became a secondary teacher which would’ve left me, quite crazily, about to finish my probationary year and would be a fully qualified teacher by this point.

Instead I joined WG and took my degree to it’s natural conclusion, and have been working as a professional engineer ever since. The magical thing about hindsight is that whilst at the end of the degree I was bemoaning my choices and my eventual circumstance, know I can see that whilst I spent a long time thinking about the choice if I had chosen anything else I’d have a massive regret sitting at the base of my spine as I watched my friends and co-graduating students become highly paid engineers in Aberdeen and I had done something else.

“What do I really want to do? This poses a problem, as I cannot answer it. I fancy doing the usual boring 9 to 5 with a mortage [sic] and a car.”
Mark Shields

"You lose what individualism you have, if you have enough of course, you retain some of it, but most don’t have enough, so you become watchers of game shows, y'know, things like that. Then you work the eight hour job with almost a feeling of goodness, like you're doing something, and you get married like marriage is a victory, and you have children like children is a victory, but most things most people do are a total grind; marriage, birth, children, it's something they HAVE to do because there's nothing else to do. There's no glory in it, there's no steam, there's no fire, it's very, very flat and the earth is full of them. Sorry, but that’s the way I see it. I could not accept the snail's pace 8-5, Johnnie Carson, happy birthday, Christmas, New Year, to me that's the sickest of all sick things".
Charles Bukowski