Doubt About the Future

I’m in doubt. As I’m making more portraits and expanding my business in the art and writing department, I’ve been focusing on my studies less. I just love art and writing so much and I have trouble seeing how learning about phonetics contributes to those occupations. I feel like the material being handled in my studies is not applicable to real life and business, and is only useful if I become a teacher myself.

Do I still want to be a teacher? I’m not entirely sure (but maybe this is just a temporary feeling). Teachers in the Netherlands are underpaid, and not as respected as they should be – I take my hat off to those doing it. I feel that if I work on my art hard enough, I can make a solid income, I can work from home and have time to spare (to care for my children, should I have any).

I’ve done the maths:

Teachers of English in the Netherlands make 3.200EU on average, according to That’s about 21EU per hour. Teaching isn’t just lecturing, but also a lot of administrative work, preparing, parent-teacher meetings, teacher-to-teacher meetings, revising homework and tests. Plus side is you get a lot of holidays, but according to a friend of mine who’s a teacher, you shouldn’t pick the job just for that reason. I’ve worked at a primary school, and I love contact with children.

If I sell paintings at 150EU a piece (and I can also sell posters, which I will do once I have more startup money) it takes me about 21 paintings to match that income. However, I can make 30 paintings a month instead of 21, making my possible income per month 4.500EU. Investments in the art business are negligible. I can also keep working at the gas station, upping my income with a variable 700-1500EU per month. The plus side is that I absolutely love making art – I love the results, the positive feedback I get from people and the fact that my art is hanging in people’s homes and making their homes more beautiful.

Now, working at the gas station has certain benefits and certain drawbacks. One of the benefits is that it’s not that hard work (my boss described it as relaxed as opposed to what he normally does), and that – if you have the morning shift – I have almost a full afternoon left to make art. The drawback is that the work is actively bad for the environment, and that cars running on gas might be fully replaced by cars running on electricity. I probably can’t work at the gas station until my retirement.

If I quit my studies and keep working at the petrol station, I can pay back my student loans in about a year and a half. If I keep studying at University, I’ll rack up about 40.000EU in student debt, which takes me considerably longer to pay off. I place a lot of value on being debt-free, it saves you a lot of stress and gives you a lot of freedom. So that’s one argument for starting to work.

An argument to keep studying is that I don’t hate my studies, I like the people with whom I study, but I don’t intend to do research later in my life. I’m learning a lot about doing research, but since I’m mainly focused on making art I don’t dive into the material as well as I should, should I want to be doing research or teaching at University level later on.

This is a question of which life path I’m intending to take. I just don’t want to wake up in 15 years and realize I hate my job because it’s not fulfilling or too fleeting. Got to think about it long and hard. I think I’ll just try my best at my studies, and see if I make the cut this year. If I don’t, at least I have a solid alternative and the world doesn’t end.

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