Thursday, January 22, 2009
premonition of a quarter-life crisis?
This May, many of my friends will be graduating from college. Soon, I will follow in their footsteps. I used to live in an idealistic world where getting a degree in something I was passionate in was a romantic ideal a la "la Boheme" (hopefully minus the TB). I firmly held my resolve as I worked my way through four years of a music degree with a minor in non-profit arts administration, despite the lack of job prospects in my field. Four years ago, this seemed like a good idea. Now with one year to graduation, I am scared shitless.
Lately, conversations have abounded with those friends who will graduate in a few short months. Many of them have similar degrees as mine. Each graduating senior I ask about career goals in the near future stares at me dejectedly and answers sadly "I will do anything and take any job just to pay my student loans." This was not what I had anticipated when I decided on my path of academia. In my mind's eye, I would get a degree and open a small, hippie-like private lessons studio in a fashionable neighborhood. Or, I would get a job playing with a local professional symphony. Or, I would work at an awesome grassroots non-profit whose mission aligns with my ethics. That was when unemployment in Wisconsin was less than 4 % and gas was less than $2.00 a gallon. Now, thoughts of working at the same crappy movie theatre job I have had since I was 15 just to have job security and pay my student loans terrorize my imagination and make me tremble with fear.
I must have a positive attitude and assure myself that I have been successful my entire life, and that accomplishments don't cease as soon as you receive a diploma. Working hard to ensure I am a well-rounded individual, I have held management positions in both for-profit and non-profit arts venues, teach both violin and viola lessons in a studio very similar to the one I hope to some day own, and participate in every music ensemble possible in order to establish myself as a desirable musician in a world desperately in need of violists. Hopefully, this means I will have many employment doors open to me as I step out into the career world. This goes for my fellow students in the fine arts as well. Why would we spend thousands of dollars on a degree that we honestly think won't assist us in finding a job? It is merely because our confidence is waning due to our imminent change in scenery and the current economic and (thankfully changing!) political climate. Upon writing this blog and really analyzing the situation, I am now more confident than ever that me and my fellow 2010 graduates in the arts field will be successful.
What if I don't get a job in one of the fields I most enjoy? How will I maintain my artistic life in the midst of a job that doesn't allow for much expression? If any readers have advice for a confused soon to be college grad, or have had similar bouts of anxiety themselves, please drop me a line!