today.

21 Apr

it’s funny how growing up happens in stages.

This time last year, I was about to graduate college. I was excited, I was nervous, I was — honestly — a bit apathetic.
I was also struggling with the ambiguity of my life to come.  I was headed to upstate New York for the summer to work one last time as a Props Assistant, but I didn’t know what to do with my life after the summer.
I received my Bachelor’s degree without knowing what type of career I was headed towards, and that was more than a little bit unnerving.
I DID know, however, that in the coming year it would be absolutely crucial to clarify my life goals and my career goals; before the coming tide of “life in the real world” took me over completely, I wanted to have a solid understanding of who I was at the very core.

And now, almost a year later, I think I’m very close to that understanding.

After the summer, I moved back home for a few months and then, after a stressful job search, moved back to CH to be closer to the life I had set up for myself here during college. And, by that, I mean mainly living within easy driving distance of my boyfriend A and my best friend Blue-Eyes.

This year, I didn’t want a career-minded job. I didn’t want anything related to my possible career path. I just wanted to live, for the first time, without being a student. I wanted to taste the life of a working adult. I wanted the time to think about what I wanted from the future, the time to examine my past experiences, the time to question myself.
(AND time to just rest in the happiness and wholeness I feel in my relationship with A).

And I love my life right now.

But –before I get to how much I love my life right now, I’d like to explain why I love it so much.

I’ve spent the year struggling with conventions.  Specifically, conventions regarding careers and marriage.

A voice in the back of my mind tells me that I should have already enrolled in grad school, that I should have worked harder in college to find a career path.
These voices, I know, are silly. My dad is a college professor, and we’ve had some meaningful discussions in the past about the role of undergraduate work versus graduate work in  today’s world. I think I agree with him completely when he assures me that undergraduate work teaches you how to think, while graduate work prepares you for a specific career.
Sometimes, as an undergrad, I absolutely hated school. But, looking back on my time, it was definitely an exciting period filled with debate about new ideas.

I wasn’t ready as an undergrad to decide on an ultimate career (although I’m much much closer now!)

UNC did teach me more about the process and joy of learning, and so I consider my time at UNC a success.

This has also been a time to think about the convention and concept of marriage. Since graduation, four of my friends have gotten married, one has gotten engaged, one has had a baby, my dad has remarried and my mom has filed for a second divorce.
And, the whole time, I’ve been unofficially living with A.
Convention, and my parents’ religion, tells me I shouldn’t be living with A before we are married.
But we are extremely happy. We love each other completely, we respect each other, we are amazed by each other. Shared life with him is the happiest I’ve been. Why do I feel the need to put  off this happiness until we are officially married?
I am sometimes a little sad that, most likely, if/when A and I get married we won’t be embarking on all aspects of beginning a life together for the first time. We will most likely have already set up a household together.
But, on the other hand, I have seen my parents’ relationships fall apart in the past; I have served as their counselor and confidant, and I know that my relationship with A, right now, is healthy and beautiful. And I’m not putting it off for anything.

……

I graduated from UNC with a major in International Studies and minor in Theatrical Design. And I think this dichotomy represents the tensions I’ve felt this year while seeking to clarify my career goals.
There is a huge part of me that delights in creating — I love the process of making art, I love looking at and thinking about visual design.
But there is also a huge part of me that wants to be an academic.

If you know me, you know that this makes perfect sense: my mom is an artist and actress, my dad is an academic and professor.
So, which road shall I take?

I’ve been stuck at this fork for quite some time.
I played with going to school for graphic design, I played with pursuing an academic career with theatre, I thought about becoming a dramaturg, a stage manager, a theater professor.
I like ideas. I like ideas at the intersection of the arts and academics.

So I sat down and journaled. I wrote out my passions, my interests.

And I kept coming back to my time with SPROUT as an undergrad. SPROUT, or Student Poverty Reduction OUTreach, was an organization aimed at fighting poverty in the CH/C area and, I am proud to say, I served as member, Publicity Chair, and Co-President of SPROUT during college.
And it was my work here that clarified my passion for community organization and involvement.

……

This is why I love my life right now.

I know so much more about myself than I did even a year ago, and I am SO EXCITED about the things to come.
I am ready to make decisions, to move ahead, to take control of the future.

Life is full of questions, and full of struggles,  but mostly it is full of beauty.

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2 Responses to “today.”

  1. pat January 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Full disclosure: I found this page after searching for peter pan and unc. Your page delivered on both counts though in an unexpected way.

    Secondly, I got a bachelors degree and I would object to describing it as a major that trains you how to think. It is the undergratuate studies program that introduces you to subjects you would never take if you didn’t have to but do open the eyes. The rest, at least for me, was about two years of career-related training. If that didn’t prepare me for a job then I want my money back. Sure it gave me more questions than answers but I seriously doubt a master’s degree is going to wipe all those questions away.

    Thirdly, you and your mate sound really happy together. Want advice from a totally anonymous internet user? I like to look for the little things. I mean the romance and wining and dining is great but thats more of a celebration of what is already there right? More important than both of you is the children involved.

    • lovemischief January 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      Pat —
      Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading a bit! (albeit by complete chance).
      🙂
      When talking about a bachelor’s degree, I guess I should specify that I got a Bacehlors of Arts. And, by the time I finished, I had decided I no longer wanted to pursue a career in my field of study.
      That being said, I really do think that in today’s world, a bachelors degree, for most majors though I’m sure not all, teaches you how to explore, how to learn about greater topics. It hasn’t, at least so far, proved sufficient for the careers I’m interested in. In my experience, and in conversations with my peers who graduated with me, the undergraduate degree itself wasn’t terribly helpful for the actual job-part.
      My degree was in International Studies. I love, love, loved the coursework. But, if I wanted to pursue a meaningful career in this field, I would need a masters.
      Now I’m thinking about going into Social Work — same deal. To reach my own professional goals, I would need to get a masters and become licensed.
      When I say a bachelor’s degree teaches you to explore and think and question, I don’t mean to degrade it. I highly value my degree, and wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.
      And I’m with you 100%: I doubt a master’s is going to wipe those questions away.
      I love the questions!
      I just mean that a master’s is more career-training-specific, in that it is more advanced and focused and directly related to professional practice.

      And thank you, A and I are very happy together 🙂
      I agree wholeheartedly, the little things matter. The romance is definitely a celebration of the foundation we’ve built together.
      We don’t have kids yet, but hopefully one day after we’re married and more settled, we can raise of couple of them. 🙂

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