This piece was originally posted at my other blog which is now going away. I’ve decided to consolidate all of my work into one blog space, so here it is folks!
It’s back to school time. Time for kids picking out backpacks, parents picking up notebooks and pencils, way-too-young-looking college freshmen picking out furniture for their cinder block dorm rooms. And time for some lollygagging college newbies to pick out a major.
Hey, Billy. You’re 17. So. What are ya gonna do with your life?
If you’re anything like me and I think a lot of you are, (there really are no special snowflakes) you had/have absolutely NO idea what you wanted to do at the ripe old age of 17 years. And yet, if you were college-bound, you were expected to have already decided. Or if not, you knew there was a deadline looming not far off in your near future. It’s technically possible to go the first 2 years or so of college with no declared major, but if you want to make sure you don’t end up behind schedule, you make that declaration as soon as possible. Fail to do so, and suffer the wrath of your advisor when you don’t have the prerequisite for that last class you have to have in your schedule, or else.
The point is, when I decided to pursue teaching, I had no clue what I really wanted. I had been a Teacher Cadet my last year of high school, a program for teacher assistants to find out if they had what it took to become teachers. At sixteen, I thought I did a pretty good job presenting that one single lesson plan I was required to teach during the course of a semester long program, and I knew I liked reading and writing, so I figured what the hell! I’ll major in English and teach high school! Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Fast forward 4 1/2 years. I’m in my final semester at university (late, you may notice by that time frame), finishing up my student teaching for the secondary education program with a major in English Literature.
And I’m absolutely miserable.
I’ve had to take summer classes every semester of college as a result of being naturally drawn to electives like African American Literature (the professor is still one of my favorite teachers ever and I took any and everything taught by her that I could get my hands on), Women’s Studies, and Women in Religion – which caused me to get behind in my major coursework. I took a poetry class, life drawing, and enjoyed Young Adult Literature, African Literature, and every possible class with Dr. Hunt, a literature professor who actually KNEW Robert Frost personally, studied at Oxford, and was a former professor at Harvard University.
My college career had been a wonderful adventure.
Except… for my education program coursework. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of why I hated it, but suffice to say I was never cut out for the real world of teaching. There was just too much politics and bureaucracy involved. Dead Poets Society the American education program ain’t, capiche? “So,” I asked myself, “what do I do now?”
I dropped out.
I went to work for some friends in Atlanta, a performance art company that made costumes/cosplay and presented talks at scifi and pop culture conventions about the maker process of creating prop armour and costumery, while also selling ready-to-wear costume pieces at these shows up and down the east coast and sometimes abroad. I got to go to Copenhagen, Denmark to essentially be a booth babe and wear a steampunk costume and look cool for a video game company that was developing a game in the same genre and discovered our group online (through Deviantart, I believe.) Later that same year the company took us to San Francisco, CA for the Game Developers Conference, where I again wore a funny outfit for a living. It was great.
And all this time, I started writing Twitter and Facebook content for the company. I started interacting with our “fans” online and designing our modest website using whatever amateur skills I picked up along the way. I booked all our hotel stays and networked with convention directors to plan our travel schedule. I become an event and social media coordinator, almost by accident. I had stumbled onto something that I enjoyed doing, and I was good at it.
Eventually, I did go back to school and finish with a straight B.A. in English Language and Literature. Today, I write web and social media content for a pharmaceutical company and several other brands. It’s a full time, well-paying job with benefits. I did not major in marketing. I never expected to end up here. But I did. And I kind of love it.
This blog is about how following what you love can lead to your dream career. Maybe a career you never even knew existed, or that you would like.
English majors hear it all the time: “So, you wanna teach?” or, “What do you do with a B.A. in English?”
Answer? Whatever the hell you want.
Originally Published: August 19, 2014 | Atlanta, GA