Reflections May 2 2016
By Nicholas T. Dahlheim
I have not written on my blog nearly enough in the last few years—perhaps I’ve had a lack of confidence in the coherence of my ideas, although others with whom I have discussed many of my ideas at length do not feel similarly. I think the deeper reason is that I really do not know my place in the world anymore. As a white American man in his early 30s with multiple graduate degrees, perhaps I have too much privilege and should stop complaining. Doing so, however, ignores and belittles many of the obstacles I have had to face in my own life. I have found forming close human relationships in this wired world beset by cultural ennui and persistent social isolation, all of which facilitate the zombie-like neoliberal political and economic order quite nicely, to be incredibly difficult. I need to “network” a lot more, and I really would like a professional role which engages me intellectually and which, in turn, will allow me to contribute my deep reservoirs of knowledge and perspective to a valuable organization. I love going to work, and I even have taken low-skilled work in order to pay the bills. But, I feel deeply dissatisfied. I really desire in my heart to have a great career working with great people.
But to do that requires a lot of networking. I guess, on some level, what provokes in me a lot of anxiety about networking is that it feels so superficial. Increasingly, I keep to myself and a very small group of close friends. Social interaction is draining even when I am up and ready for it. Yet, to even get a job requires a level of social interaction that I never have been comfortable with or able to sustain. Moreover, while I am an extremely personable and friendly person and close friends know that I can be relied upon, I hesitate to get closer to more people. And for me, being with you 8-10+ hours per day as a colleague, employee, or contractor requires that I be able to have to trust you. I cannot devote the precious hours of my small, limited time on this planet to a person who is not worthy of respect or trust. When the buzzwords are all about “entrepreneurship,” “competition,” and “fast-paced” in many job posts, I have to ask where’s the real basis for supporting the “teamwork” and general solidarity that a successful organization must have? I guess I’m really, really confused and bewildered by the job search process. And ever since I had a health crisis a few years ago that caused me to leave Columbia University where I was in graduate studies in climate science and policy, I have not been able to really ever get back on my feet solidly since then. I guess I’m writing this because I would like some assistance. Some ideas. And some connections. I want a meaningful life and a meaningful career with serious, cerebral, caring people in a great organization.
Following this post, I will resume posting more thoughtful pieces on subjects which move me: philosophy and humanities education, the fate of global society as it confronts a series of existential civilizational crises, spirituality and the shape of religiously-oriented life in the 21st century, and economic analysis—especially from the vantage point of ecology, Marxism, and world-systems theory.