In honor of heading back to school next week (senior year, which I am more than ready to be done with–but I’ll save that for a different post) I thought I’d address the age-old question directed those who dedicate their college years to studying literature, language, and composition (i.e. English majors). Or anyone pursuing a “liberal arts” degree, really.
It’s funny. I think when I first revealed that I intended to study English in college no one really questioned my decision. Probably because they thought (read: hoped) I would change my mind once or twice or six times at some point while earning my undergraduate degree. Because the average college student does, in fact, change their academic focus at least once in their first four years at school. But I think we all know I’m not average. 🙂
Ever since I was a wee lass I’ve loved words–using them to express myself, to convey the otherwise untold life experiences of other people, to interpret those written experiences of other people. I don’t know how many people maintain the same interests as they navigate the early stages of life, but reading and writing have continued to serve as as ways to enjoyably spend my time and express myself and demonstrate some degree of talent. To not at least entertain the idea of pursuing a career in this area seemed foolish to me (but to each their own). English was what I wanted to study and I was certain I wasn’t going to change my mind (or I was certainly hoping I wouldn’t–hello, identity crisis).
Now I’m going to be a senior and clearly I haven’t changed my mind about my career path and will not be changing my mind at this point. Now that What do you want to do with that? question that was initially asked in a joking manner is posed more seriously. This question becomes much more genuine, much more higher-stake. So my response should be genuine and thoughtful, right? Especially if I’ve known I’ve wanted a career in the English field most of my life. Right? Well…
You know, in all honesty, I don’t 100% know what I want to do. Does anybody? Really? Even the aspiring lawyers and psychologists and teachers. Sure, you have to complete certain schooling and achieve specific certification for careers like this, where experience and credibility are pertinent to your success. But with any career, even in my case where I think I know what I want to do, you can never really be sure until you enter the field and try out that dream career.
When it comes to responding to the original question, instead of prattling off an ambiguous, English major-related job title (that probably hasn’t been invented yet, as they say), I instead say the one aspect I want my unknown, English-y career to have–writing. I want to “go into” writing.
Then if Mr./Ms. What-Do-You-Want-To-Do-With-That inquires further I try my best to elaborate, though I don’t know how much of what I’m considering for a career is legitimate and how much is just some hybrid job I’ve made up after researching for careers in my field (Hey, I’m not worried about finding a job–yet–I’m just curious about what might be out there when I graduate. Don’t act like you’ve never done that before.).
I want to write–I’m thinking more in a journalism-related field than creative writing and novels, and not necessarily for a traditional newspaper. I want to write about things that matter to people, even if only a few. Community issues. Life events. Untold personal stories. I just want to write about life. I won’t even limit myself to writing. You don’t need solely words to tell a story. I can work with film. Art. Imagery. I want to be a storyteller. And I want that story to help someone. I want to help people. Maybe through a non-profit. I love non-profits. I’ve loved working with them thus far and I’d really like to continue that pattern in my post-collegiate career… And so on.
That sounds like a specific kind of career, right???
Yeah, I thought not. But doing something with any number of those qualities seems like a mighty fine way to spend your day (and get paid for it) to me. 🙂 Recognizing this response is a bit all-over-the-place, I usually stop after clarifying my preference for journalism over book-writing, because my inquirer usually assumes my “going into writing” means writing books. If I’m going to be a starving writer, I should at least get a book out of the situation. Or something.
And after nab my awesome English-y career or book deal or what-have-you, I can diagram sentences on the side! Or tell English-related jokes…
Ohhhhhhhhh! Isn’t that so good?! Hilarious, I know!
Yeah… I’m going to be living on Ramen noodles for awhile… If I’m lucky.
Oh, also, before I forget–Happy One-Year Anniversary to me! 😀 A year ago (literally, to the date, I couldn’t have planned this better if I tried) I started writing this blog on WordPress. So exciting! I’ll have my hard-earned Ramen noodles and my blog. Yes!
Okay, that’s all. For real, this time…