The End is Nigh

What do you do with a BA in English? What is my life going to be? Four years of college, and plenty of knowledge, have earned me this useless degree. I can’t pay the bills yet, as I have no skills yet, the world is a big scary place. But somehow I can’t shake, the feeling I might make, a difference to the human race.

Oh, Avenue Q, you speak straight to my heart.

I am about to finish a graduate diploma and I am freaking out. When I think about life after my degree I start to panic and turn to potato bake for comfort and questions flood my mind. Have I learnt enough? Have I got the skills I need? Did I improve? Will this piece of paper make a difference? Then I casually watch television to calm my mind and the headline pops up ‘Does a degree ensure a job?’ Is my television trying to hurt my feelings?

Second time graduating you would think that I would have things under control. Turns out, this is not the case. My first degree was in acting and as it neared time to graduate I was nervous, but I was ready. I was excited to stop formal learning and to test my skills in the real world. I graduated with a sense of excitement and naivety. I went out, I blossomed, I decided to study some more. Second degree and I am twice as nervous and filled with dread.

I spoke to some others in my course who are doing their Masters in my strand of study. When I expressed my panic about leaving, they advised me to do my Masters. Or why don’t I do a PhD? Why don’t I just study for THE REST OF TIME? No, thank you.

I am not the only person at a turning point; maybe it’s just that time of year. I have friends who are deciding whether to start study, to move, to leave jobs, to return to old careers or to travel.

So if you are in this predicament, what do you do?

Make a Decision
This is not a fun step, but until you’ve made a decision, you remain in limbo thinking, ‘maybe I could do this, or this, or maybe I could do everything, ever.’ When I was lamenting over something one of my friends said, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ When you think of it in those terms, it’s not so scary. I mean, you move somewhere, it doesn’t work out, you move back. Sure you might feel that you’ve returned to where you started, but you’ve also gained invaluable knowledge to help you make your next choice. So decide what you are going to do, and do it.

Make a Plan
I’ve been very fortunate in that I have had the opportunity to interview some people in the arts who are very high in their chosen field. One of the questions I sometimes ask is ‘should you have a five year plan?’ Funnily enough, most of them say no. Or they stress the importance of being willing to throw the plan away. On the other hand, my Dad believes you should always have a goal to work towards and a plan of how to get there. I think it helps to keep both in mind. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, a plan can ground me and stop me worrying, and other times it’s nice to go with the flow. So sorry, not much help here.

Get Experience
I have a vague idea of where I want to be, but despite my official piece of paper, I don’t think I have all the skills yet. How do I get the skills without perpetual formal study? Volunteer. There are many internships and unpaid work opportunities available. Sure unpaid work isn’t the funnest, but often it leads to paid work and if not, it builds your portfolio. Good places to look are YAQ, Artshub, Creative Foyer, seek and pedestriantv. You can always just bite the bullet and create your own work straight away. People that can help you down that path are Metro Arts, Backbone Youth Arts or La Boite indie season.

Everything seems scary but we will all be fine because:

If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool.

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