Why don’t you know yet?
Oh my god, you’re 22 years old with a college degree, but you don’t have a career path planned out?
What do you mean you don’t have job stability? How are you going to buy a house or have kids without a stable, constant, planned-out source of income?
I hear all of these questions and more at least once a week. They come up any time I visit a distant relative, have coffee with an old friend, or just eat food with my loving (but very nosy) family. These questions are getting at the root of all of my imagined problems – the fact that I have been doing “nothing” with my degree.
I have a Bachelor of Arts in English, but I haven’t been doing anything “English-y” with it. At least, that’s what almost everyone thinks. Apparently, in order to be “doing something” with an English degree, you have to be a writer, a teacher, or a professor. I didn’t realize there was such a rigid set of rules when I joined the major. In fact, I only joined the major because English was my favorite subject in school for as long as I could remember. But it wasn’t my favorite because we did a lot of writing, teaching, or professing. It was my favorite because we did a little bit of everything. There were days when we would even be doing math in English class!
I have a lot of interests, and I find it extremely unfair that I should have to pick one from the list to “do” for the rest of my life. Why is the concept of a career such a linear one in our society? My career path has been – and will continue to be – cyclical. I have a full-time job as an administrative assistant that keeps me on my toes. Every single day, I’m doing something different with that position, which excites me greatly as I have to be there for eight hours, and it would pretty much suck otherwise.
I come home from that job, and I get to do literally whatever I want. If I want to veg-out in front of the TV and eat my way through my kitchen, I can. If I want to write chapters for a book I’ve been working on, I can. And if I want to leave my house and take a road trip to take pictures someplace I’ve never been – you guessed it – I can! And there’s no reason that I can’t do my best to make a living doing ALL of those things (and more).
An English degree is applicable in so many situations. I’m currently working on creating a budgeting training session for my full-time job. I have to edit a ten-page document and then turn it into a PowerPoint. I’m using skills that I learned in multimedia class, first year seminar, and English class to get that project figured out! I learned how to write effective editorial/informational/creative writing pieces in English class which is a skill I now use to write this blog and the many narrative works I’ve been fiddling with over the years. Those skills have helped me on more than one occasion, and I am so grateful to have been an English major and earned a degree that I can literally use for everything.
So the next time you think I’m not doing anything with my life and you want to ask me “What’s your plan?” – just remember that plans change. And I’m one of the lucky few who can do a little bit of everything to roll with the punches – specifically the punches I give you for being such an ass.