On the Mend

Since I was unsuccessful in last year's job market, I've been processing negative emotions for the past 6 months. I don't think I've ever felt anger, frustration, hopelessness, and jealousy all at the same time before. The good news is that I'm on the mend, and I attribute that to two things. First, I allowed myself to feel negative emotions. And second, I've changed my plans for the future.

Regarding the first, I allowed myself to be human, to feel all the negative emotions sparked by a terrible job market where most applicants find nothing. I told myself that it was okay to be jealous of my friends who found jobs, even though I felt guilty that I couldn't be happy for them.

Acknowledging one's human limits is simultaneously disheartening and liberating. It's disheartening because I don't want to suck as a person. I want to be able to be happy for my friends, you know? But it's also liberating because it makes me feel more okay with feeling negative emotions. To be clear, I still feel guilty; I'm just dealing with it better.

Regarding the second, I've decided to go into clinical ethics. A clinical ethicist is a person who offers guidance to clinicians on ethically complicated medical decisions. I'll be doing a clinical ethics practicum in the Fall, where I shadow various people in the hospital. And I'll be taking a clinical ethics class in the Spring.

This decision to enter clinical ethics has help me recover from my depressive state, because it has given me something new to look forward to, and because it will help me on the job market. I've been told that for clinical ethics, there are 30 applicants per job (compared to 300 applicants per job in professional philosophy). So this coming Fall, I'll apply for both academic jobs and clinical ethics jobs.

I get excited over the thought of being an applied ethicist. I never thought I would, to be honest. I always thought of myself as a person who would work on the theory side of things. The only worry I have is that I'll be constantly surrounded by death. I'm not sure how that will affect me psychologically.