No, I Don't Know What I'll Do With My Degree

No, I Don't Know What I'll Do With My Degree

Not all those who wander are lost.
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If you're a college student, you probably get asked at least once a week: "So, what are going to do with your degree?"

Ah, if only it were as simple of an answer as it is a question. I initially went into college as a business major, but after about an hour into my first management course, I realized that business was definitely not the path for me. The next year, I declared myself as an English major. At the time, I was completely convinced that I had finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life. My high school English classes were some of my favorites, and the teachers I had always made me feel inspired and invigorated. So I figured, maybe I should follow in their footsteps and become an English teacher myself. I felt so much pride finally being able to respond to the dreaded "what are you doing with your life" question with a firm and definitive answer: "I'm going to be an English teacher."

That phase lasted for about two months. It's nice to try and convince myself that being a teacher is still what I want to do, but in total honesty I'm just not sure. And I think that should be okay.

I wish we could stop shaming young people for not knowing what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Who wants to be tied to one career forever? And who knows what that career is supposed to be when they're barely 20 years old? The future is a scary thing to think about, and the idea of choosing one path to go down seems horrifyingly daunting to me.

People who ask me what I want to do for a career seem to be under the impression that there is only one career out there for all of us. When you ask me what I'm going to do with my degree, you aren't interested in what skills I'm learning that will help me to be a better human -- you want to know what one, stable job I'm going to choose from the limited pool of careers open to people with an English degree.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my degree. Maybe I'll do what I originally intended and become a high school English teacher. Or maybe I'll become a writer. Maybe I'll do something that seems completely unrelated to English and have people tell me for the rest of my life that I wasted my college education.

Those people will be wrong. Whatever I decide to do with my life, I will be taking the lessons I've learned throughout college with me. English majors don't just read Shakespeare and write meaningless papers. We learn how to articulate our disconnected thoughts into coherent sentences; we dissect stories to pinpoint the moments that transcend traditional writing conventions and shift our perspectives of the world. We strive to communicate and connect with people on as deep a level as humanly possible. You're telling me that these skills will be useless if I don't go into an English career?

College is the time to experiment, to dip your toes into all the opportunities around you with the hope that maybe one of them will lead you to something you're passionate about. I don't know what I'll do with an English degree, but I know that I'm a better person for having chosen to follow my passion for literature. I'm a hard worker and an eager learner, so whatever I aspire to do in life, I know that I will one day get there. For now, I just want to wander and enjoy the freedom of having no particular destination to end up at.

Cover Image Credit: The Talko

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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