The Few. The Proud. The Directionless.

by Holly Moore

When we attend college, we pick careers, but for some of us these professional pathways aren’t so black and white. We decide on a general direction and the compass we choose never promises to simply point North. As an English major with a Creative Writing concentration, I originally loved the freedom of an open road. When I selected the course I wanted to follow, I never realized how unclear the path could become. In a month, I graduate and there are endless avenues for me to seek. For certain majors, the route ahead is obvious: to become a doctor or an accountant, but I don’t need to graduate in order to become a writer.

While that may make the value of my degree difficult to express, it in no way means I regret my education. Not only because I can explain to you what vampires in literature symbolize or argue that Judith Butler’s work was groundbreaking or that the abject is relevant in everyday life, but because it taught me to accept what I do not know. I learned to study the unfamiliar, to tackle the difficult subjects and concepts that most would rather avoid, and I now view the world through that priceless lens.

This perspective impacts each decision I make as I look forward, wondering about jobs I will soon be pursuing. The beauty and downfall of an English degree is that there are countless pathways I could take. A few obvious avenues are to become a journalist, a lawyer, a teacher, or even a professor, and the list continues, which can be increasingly overwhelming. Especially when I begin to weigh in the opinions of others. While considering that those around me may expect me to announce that I am moving back to London or starting my own art print business or working at a polished, respected company receiving full benefits, I realize that those options are not for me right now. And that, my friends, is perfectly okay despite the way others might make me feel.

When I choose my path, it all comes down to what do I want to do. What do I need? So simple, yet it’s so easy to forget that I have the privilege of choosing my future, of chasing after my dreams, of constructing my destiny. No one can invalidate my desires or my plans. There are no wrong answers here.  Currently, I hope to find a job as a barista and eventually as a bookseller. Someday I want to move to New York City and work as an editor, but presently that is not my goal because I need time. Sometimes, as a creative, I need space to rest, to heal, to discover, to imagine, and to learn, and that feels pretty English majoresque to me. As an artist, I create because there is an idea, emotion, and experience inside of me that I must share. From the beginning, the dialogue is between me and my art. As soon as I begin constructing for someone else, I lose touch with my work.

Don’t let others’ judgments about you and your life determine your future. My advisor last week called me the “advising challenge of the century.” Honestly, I expected myself to feel bad for being such a hassle, but I refuse to because I worked my ass off for my education. Showing up and bugging my advisor with questions wasn’t anything to be ashamed of because it was his job to answer them. Studying abroad was easily the best decision I’ve made in college even if it made taking the proper classes an ordeal, and I don’t regret any of my four internships even if they were horrible, exhausting, pointless, or stressful because I learned something else about businesses, the literary world, the people around me, writing, and myself. All that to say, don’t be afraid to step forward and make requests. My eagerness for experience was so intense that I sacrificed a lot in order to attain it, but it was so worth it. The privilege of pursuing my passions is all mine, and I have to take advantage of that.

In order to achieve my dreams, I will have to forfeit other possibilities. Naturally that will look different during various seasons of my life. As time progresses my desires will change, but at the end of the day I also have to remember that what is standing between me and my goals isn’t that I’m not capable. It’s that I don’t always show up and make myself “the advising challenge of the century.” Instead of pulling out a pen, I watch TV. Instead of reading a challenging book, I waste time scrolling through Instagram. Instead of creating art, I’m staring at other people’s work on Pinterest. None of this is bad; honestly it’s great inspiration, but at some point, I have to wake up and illustrate meaning from all that great insight. Instead of doing what is easy and accessible, I have to make sacrifices and put in the needed hours if I’m ever going to make my dreams happen. My art is between me and the canvas.