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Jun 16 2011

“I was kind of an aimless teenager”: Greta’s Interview with Teen Skepchick

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There’s a cool interview with me on Teen Skepchick! We talk about boys, clothes, makeup, Justin Bieber… no, no, no. Totally kidding. I’ve just always wanted to be interviewed by Teen Something magazine, and I’m letting my imagination run away with me. We talk about shifting identities, connections between skepticism and sexuality, career paths or the lack thereof, making atheism a safer place for teens to come out into, and more. Here’s an excerpt:

When you were a teen, where did you see yourself going in your adult life? Are you the person you thought you would be?

Honestly? I was kind of an aimless teenager. My goal as a teenager was to get into a good college where I knew I’d be happy — and I was very focused on that goal. I actually graduated high school in three years (which took a lot of work) so I could get the hell out of there and get on with my life. But beyond college, my future was kind of a blur. And it was still very much a blur once I left college. I took a long, long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and while I’ve been writing professionally off and on since my late twenties, I didn’t get serious about it until I turned 40. For many years, I drifted from job to job, mostly based on what was catching my interest at the time. (And on what jobs were available at times when I needed to find new work!)

Which actually worked out really well for me. I know adults aren’t supposed to say that to teenagers — but it’s true. I do wish I’d gotten more serious about the writing earlier — I missed a lot of opportunities that I still regret. But drifting from job to job got me into some very interesting jobs. I’ve worked at an abortion clinic, a public library, a lesbian sex magazine, a gay newspaper, a sex toy company, a small press book publisher and distributor. Even my boring job at the ticket company exposed me to music and theater and dance and other culture that I never would have explored on my own.

And a lot of those “drifting” jobs opened professional doors. The job at the lesbian sex magazine was just a clerical job, but they were the first place to publish my writing. Ditto the gay newspaper — it was initially just a clerical job, but they eventually hired me to write as well. And most of my jobs exposed me to new political and cultural ideas, about feminism and sexuality and LGBT rights and censorship and so on — ideas I’m still exploring in my writing. I would much rather have a boring job at an interesting place than an interesting job at a boring place. I don’t know if I’d give that as general career advice… but it’s certainly been true for me.

To read more, read the rest of the interview. And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comments to the Teen Skepchick site — they like comments there, too. Enjoy!

7 comments

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  1. 1
    Christina

    I really liked the article, especially when you discussed career paths for teenagers. When I was in high school, it was hammered home to me every day that I needed to go to university in order to make something of my life. But I didn’t. Not right away, anyway. I also drifted a bit and experienced many interesting things I wouldn’t have been privy to otherwise (butchery, making coffee, planting trees, working at a farmer’s market, starting work at 5am.) Like you say, it’s not for everyone, but it’s neat to see that other people take this trajectory and things work out okay.

  2. 2
    Allen Dexter

    Good analysis and advice. Thanks for the line on teenskepchick. I wasn’t aware of that site.
    I’m in my seventies and not a teen anymore, but I sympathize with teens and their problems if they happen to be thinkers and not blind followers.
    If I had some wealth, I’d certainly help with things like scholarships. No better use could be made of money. A good ecucation opens up so many avenues to young people. We need all the thinking youth we can find in our university system.

  3. 3
    Allen Dexter

    Just wanted to let you know that I’m one of those who checks your blog, usually more than once a day, to see if there is anything new.
    I think you’re one of the best bloggers and writers around. Keep up the good work.

  4. 4
    Rieux

    Why do you think writing and speaking about atheism, skepticism, and LGBT issues is important?
    [....]
    I write and speak about LGBT issues because terrible, real-world harm is done by homophobia/ biphobia/ transphobia. I write and speak about atheism because I think religion isn’t just mistaken—I think it does harm, terrible harm, significantly more harm than good, and I would like to see the world let go of it. And I write and speak about skepticism because I care about reality. I think reality is, by definition, more important and more interesting than anything we could make up about it. And I think skepticism is the best method we have of understanding reality.

    This is in fact the correct answer.
    You rock, Greta.

  5. 5
    Brenda

    I wanted to say thanks for the input on floating from job to job. I just finished my first year of college, but I still have no idea what I’m going to try to be. It’s great knowing that someone I admire so much didn’t stick to the one-straight-path idea that everyone keeps pushing on me. Everyone in my life keeps telling me I have to find some well-paying career immediately after I graduate (I’ll only be 21!) and stick with it. It’s good hearing from people who followed a different system–one that sounds much more enjoyable, too! I don’t know what I want to be, but hopefully I can find some experiences just as interesting as yours.

  6. 6
    Danish Atheist

    Hehe … I recommend floating, too. I was sick of school after high school, so I “floated” off to the US for a year, worked odd jobs (on the Bang and Olufsen factory I had several odd jobs :), had a kid, and finally got an education in computing.
    I am glad I took my time – I could have used even more time, actually, and if I regret anything, it is that I didn’t float around a bit longer.

  7. 7
    Jay

    You mention, in one of the first questions, questioning your belief of an immaterial soul. Have you ever thought about/wondered about/believed in a material soul? Something inside, or part of, the brain or some other part that is our “conscience” or something?

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