This post is a guest blog by Bailey Brown.
Over the past four years, I have had the privilege of working with and learning from some on the most (by all appearances) well-adjusted professionals I know. This includes professors, supervisors, co-workers, and superiors. Although I finished college with a considerable education in my field of postsecular and postmodern literature, I find the real significant lessons I have walked away with include the unsolicited advice imparted to me there. I am here today to share this advice with you so that the next time you are agonizing over a big decision while lying on the floor or the bed or the couch or the table, you can remind yourself, in no better words, “this is water, this is water.”
Have you considered switching your major to English?
I heard this on multiple occasions my first year. The one that stands out is the adjunct professor I had for one of my Gen Ed classes, a class I was well underprepared for. However, I was also the only student who managed to pull a 100% on one of my papers. My professor pulled me aside before the class where he revealed our grades and I turned bright red as what I expected to be a chastising for my lack of knowledge of the subject became a sincere attempt to convince me to harness my skills as a writer for my long-term, professional goals.
The English major is meant to teach it’s students how to survive in the professional world. If you can articulate yourself appropriately in any given situation, if you know how to control your reactions to any given situation in order to provoke the best possible outcome, you will survive. Usually, you only find this out when you’ve committed to the degree that, according to mainstream professionalism, leads nowhere.
Leave him at the altar.
This is one of my favorites. To preface, I should mention I studied at a private Christian university. The general stereotype that turns out to be 100% true is that as young, educated Christians, it’s time to start thinking of marriage and family. I like to call it the “grab one on the way out” dilemma. I don’t buy it, but it exists regardless. This also means I have had more than one professor very adamantly advice their students to take caution when committing to the man or woman they are going to commit to for the rest of their lives. My favorite of these passionate speeches came from the professor who gave us all her phone number and told us that, if on our wedding day we realize this marriage has an unusually high probability of divorce, call her immediately and she will drive the getaway car. No one wants to be the person who breaks up with their fiance on their wedding day, and no one wants to be the person to inconvenience all of the friends and family who have come to celebrate, and no one wants to be the person who wastes thousands of dollars because the epiphany occured too late. However, it is better to be that person than to be the one who breaks up a family, and it is easier to be that person when you have a getaway plan and a supportive driver.
Three things you need to do before you get married: Get your degree, be financially stable, be emotionally stable.
The second piece of unsolicited marriage advice came from a professor who did not follow any of these rules but has been happily married for years. In fact, my parents, grandparents, and even fellow peers have all had happy marriages without one or three of these. However, similar to the idea that is it better to be a runaway bride or groom than a member of a split family, students who are under pressure to commit to the first person they fall in love with could end up in serious long term suffering if they don’t consider these rules first. Regardless of its many exceptions, it is not a bad idea to be emotionally and intellectually educated, or financially stable before settling down.
Travel shows you the world outside your usual perspective. I thought I could do this by simply expanding my horizon of genre when choosing which book to read next, but reading about someone else’s experience is not the same as experiencing it yourself. As a writer, creator, artist of any kind, or educated human, there is a massive limitation on your scope of thought if you don't step out of your comfort zone. I understand travel may not be possible for everyone, but the idea of letting the world outside of your projection of it educate you is important nonetheless. It is a long enough life for many of us.
If you do not see (emotional) value in your work, why are you doing it?
Financial stability of course. To support my family. Because I need to eat. It is only temporary. We all end up working a job we hate at some point in our lives. Often this is the case simply because we have no other choice. But this does not mean you have to be miserable. Especially for the college graduates out there. My work experience is limited to entry level positions doing things I love as well as things I hate because I need make an income. But this does not mean I had to let myself settle into a position I disliked and suffer through it. I chose to see these experiences as a means to my future. I made friends with my co-workers and learned from their experiences. I know stories, made friends, and developed valuable skills I would have otherwise been oblivious too because I decided to make the best of the job I hated. The worst job in the world does not have to the worst job in the world if you decide to find value in it. Read Frankl. Read Wallace. Read Lerner. If you still don’t believe me, next time you feel like your drowning, take a deep breath and watch what happens.
Bailey Brown is an alumna of Azusa Pacific University ‘18. She has a degree in English Literature and enjoys reading for the sake of entertainment as well as education. When she's not reading, she's taking pictures. Keep up with her work at baileybrown.squarespace.com.