It’s interesting, the rush of feelings one gets after having completed a long-time goal. (Well, almost completed–I have two pud finals on Monday, but apart from that everything is golden. I have my degree, for the most part. I should be awarded for my hubris by the universe dumping something silly in my lap, like a class I forgot to take or something my advisor didn’t tell me, but that will be something interesting to write about, at least. And I’m not sure I want to leave college, anyway.) At this point, I think I’ve reached acceptance.
Oh, there was initially denial–how could I finally be finished?!–and that denial quickly turned to anger. Mostly over academia’s ivory-tower hijinks and shenanigans. Por ejemplo, the career services pamphlet they prepare for English majors has a list of careers on the front, jobs English undergraduates should potentially be able to get, and the list is a complete, bald-faced lie. Such as “Teacher,” for which one needs an Education degree. “Editor,” which requires a Master’s. “Museum Curator”: but ain’t no museum gonna give you a curator job without Art History or Anthropology. (I seem to recall that “Writer” was not on the list, but that may simply be my own madness clouding my brain.) Ultimately, I didn’t get into this gig for monetary gain, but academia does a real crappy job of conveying any value, intrinsic or extrinsic, of Liberal Arts studies.
Which caused me to spend to a bit of time bargaining in attempt to fight my depression. It took me a while to remember that broadening my experience of the world, encountering new thoughts and ideas in it, and enlarging my empathy towards my fellow human creature is highly valuable to my inner being and my quality of life. Just cuz it don’t pay the bills doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have done it. Sitting here now, waxing poetical on the many writers and ideologies I’ve encountered during my English studies, I realize I have a rich worldview and a hunger to expand that worldview even farther. That’s the very goal of career in the Humanities, to become more human essentially, so I’ve done a pretty good freakin’ job I think. Which ultimately brings me to acceptance.
I have finished. My time here has been valuable. I am a better person for having done this.
And grad school is for chumps.
In the acceptance stage, I think about grad school, and I fantasize about running off somewhere to find an intellectually stimulating, personally enriching MFA program, in which I can write and linger with other writers and read and experience words in an all-consuming, monk-like existence. And I realize I may have tumbled right back into the denial stage, where I try to convince myself that oh no, it’s not really over, goals have not been achieved, not until the word “Terminal” is slapped on that degree. Someone, somewhere, has made a joke about the five stages of grief for terminal degrees, probably in somewhat poor taste. And let’s not forget how fantastically yuppie it is to just run off and blow thousands of dollars (or loans, or struggle to get funding) on a two year activity that will ultimately lend towards “personal enrichment.” La-la Land, indeed.
So I will take my rush of feelings and appreciate them, but ultimately I should just be proud of myself for finishing something that was super difficult. (With a 4.0 Institutional GPA, I might add. Although, it might be 3.95 if that jerk film professor gives me an A- on his useless fine arts credit class). After all this deep, introspective, Liberal Arts Yuppie pondering, I will turn my eye towards more practical pursuits, and hope, at the very least, this degree will help me make an extra buck or two an hour. Whoo-hoo!