College Pre-Professionalism: It’s Not All Bad

I have just recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, a university known for its prestige, but also known for being pretty stressful. Campus was filled with people walking around in suits going to On Campus Recruiting interviews. Often the topic of conversation with others would be “How’s the job search?”. I didn’t mind this topic with close friends, but it was a little less pleasant when talking to acquaintances who didn’t understand my path–not that I understand it. At the risk of answering the dreaded question, I’m still not sure about my post-grad plans. I’m thinking of going into digital media writing. I typically think of myself falling into the category of “creative jobs”, a path that few people from my university seemed to take. There tended to be a corporate culture, something that certain creative people would view as a bad thing. Sometimes it seems like no matter what you go into, there are a few people choosing the “opposite” path  that have something negative to say. Perhaps out of some sort of retaliation, I find a pressure put on people going into creative jobs, nonprofits, or anything not-so-corporate, to judge anyone who does banking or works in a cubicle as boring or selfish. Furthermore, simply having any concern about one’s job search is considered being a part of this corporate culture that is apparently inherently bad. And frankly, it really annoys me.

I will first state that it’s truly admirable to go into a job that makes less money in order to help others, or to stray from the status quo in order to be yourself. I myself dream of being a writer. I look up to my dad who is a musician and a teacher. I believe that teachers are underpaid and underappreciated, and the fact that they teach children in the wake of being underpaid makes them even more admirable. But I don’t just write off everyone else as boring, selfish, or snobby. I’m not saying I didn’t meet my share of snobs, or that I didn’t have my own snobby moments, but sometimes the way people of different passions and professions judge each other seemed like World War 3.

I try to check my privilege as much as I can, being a former student who was provided with the resources and the family foundation that helped me get to an Ivy League university. I realize that not everyone has the privilege to be even worrying about job applications. But since I have that privilege, shouldn’t I be fully checking it by worrying just a little? Okay, so maybe “worrying” isn’t exactly the right term. And I certainly don’t have the right to be complaining about it, though I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of it. But I do believe that if I was given this opportunity to study at Penn, I should realize that I am armed with an education and a series of resources that will help me get jobs, even if that’s a pretty unfair part of society. I know that many people in the world don’t have jobs. But isn’t that something that should drive me further, especially as a person of color who has had the privilege to graduate from a prestigious university?

I may be coming off just a little intense here, so I will say that I am honestly not the type to get extremely stressed out about grades and jobs. It was just this week upon arriving home, that I had the “Whoa, what am I going to do with my life?” moment. Furthermore, I believe that mental health holds importance over all of this and that guilting oneself this way is unhealthy if done in large doses. But from the perspective of a perhaps rare Penn kid who wasn’t particularly stressed when it came to school work, I sometimes do need to guilt myself a little. I need to stop relaxing sometimes, and realizing that isn’t something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean I’m contributing to an overly high-strung culture.

I truly believe that there are many people out there who didn’t get accepted to Penn — and heck, many people who didn’t even consider going to college — that have the drive to do everything that I have done. They deserve my spot at Penn just as much as I did if not more, and if I don’t succeed, I feel almost like I’m metaphorically throwing a wasted Ivy League education in their faces.

I’m not saying I need to be employed tomorrow, and I’m not saying I can’t relax once and a while. I will always prefer casual friendships to ones solely based in networking – though I believe some friendships can have a combination of both. But I believe that as a person of color, and as a member of this socially stratified society, I’m not being so crazy by wanting to take opportunities that I was lucky enough to receive. So maybe I want to network every once in a while, or see some kind of job in my future. I’ve been given the idea from others that by worrying about jobs I’m overlooking my privilege, and while I see where this perspective comes from, I think that being career-driven is a way of checking that privilege. Overall, I’m excited to see where the next few months take me, and if my journey happens to take me to a job in a cubicle *gasp*, then maybe that’s where I belong. Only time will tell, but I hope that one day each person can travel their own path without being vilified as being part of some greater “evil”. Maybe we’re all just trying to be ourselves.

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Growth

A lot of writers would describe inspiration as that feeling when you have to drop everything and write what you are thinking about at that moment because you just have to get it out on a piece of paper, a word document, or a note on your phone. But sometimes, inspiration has a different feel to it. The feeling that you want to create, but you don’t know what. You start typing and what comes out is nowhere near as good as what happened in your head. That’s what I’m having, but on a much greater scale.

I want to create but I don’t know what. I want to change the world but I don’t know how. Sometimes I think I am too lazy and sometimes I think I care too much what people think. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if no one was watching. But honestly, what I’m truly passionate about is writing, saying and doing things because people are watching. And I mean that in so many different ways. One of my favorite things to do is make people laugh. But even more than that, I want to expand my knowledge so I can expand the knowledge of others. When I tell my parents about something that’s going on in the world that they have no idea about and I expose them to a new perspective, it makes me so pleased with myself. I wish that I could be as uninhibited amongst everyone as I am with them because broadening others’ horizons is truly what I love to do. I don’t know how that will manifest itself, where I will write it, or even if I will write it. Who knows, I might even be a professor, though that’s not where I’m expecting my path to lead.

I study sociology because I care about how people interact. I started studying it because I was interested in race relations. My interest in race relations has grown and my interests have grown to care about all human beings. I don’t mean to sound like some corny person who pretends that we have no differences because we’re all human beings, in fact I mean to say the opposite. I mean to say that because I struggled with my race identity, I care about each and every person’s identity and having respect for it and embracing it. I used to think that because I was one of the few people of color in my high school that I was super open minded, but now I see how myopic my viewpoint was compared to how it is now and I hope that I will only continue to grow in this respect.

Raw Emotion

So there I sat in the office chair at my messy desk, which is really more of a “clothing that I was thinking about wearing this morning” disposal than a desk at this point. My door was closed and I live in a suite/apartment, yet I could hear the sound of my roommate on the phone with her boyfriend in her bedroom on the other side of the suite.  I could tell she was talking through the veil of a high pitched whine, but I couldn’t tell if she was crying or laughing. We are close friends and I have heard her go into this sort of high pitched cry-laughing tone before, so I was willing to believe that she was laughing.

But unfortunately, I am a person who will always think the worst. I think small symptoms are diseases, I think people who don’t respond to texts are dead, and if I hear something that sounds like crying, I begin to convince myself that it is crying. I started wondering if her boyfriend broke up with her or if some tragic event happened. A few hours later, when I walked into the living room, she was still on the phone and her tone seemed somewhere between neutral and energetic. She is, however, an energetic person whose talking habits parallel that quality (probably why we’re friends), so I wasn’t quite convinced everything was okay. I went to my room and continued to do my homework until she knocked on my bedroom door to chat. When she entered, I asked her about it and as you may have guessed, she had been laughing.

This got me thinking about how interesting it is that hysterical laughter and hysterical crying can be easily confused by a distant bystander who hears it without any context. Sometimes even when I am in the room with a parent, I burst out in laughter only to get an immediate turn of my parent’s head and an “Are you okay?”, to which I respond “Yeah, I was laughing”. What do these two actions have in common? Well, yes, hysteria, but also the fact that they are expressions of raw emotion. They are actions that one cannot hold back on account of being completely overcome with an emotion.

It’s pretty interesting how two opposing emotions have such similar ways of being expressed, but I’m equally interested in the fact that expressing emotions publicly is met with such different reactions from society. When was the last time you saw someone hysterically cry in public? Probably not for a while because crying in public is taboo. But laughing in public is celebrated. It’s what you do to impress someone you like, to show the enjoyment you are having with friends, even to pose in a picture to look like a “free spirit” and get a bunch of Facebook comments telling you you’re cute.  This is all a little ironic when you think about the fact that when expressing emotions on a smaller scale, complaints are more common and perhaps even more celebrated than expressions of happiness. So I guess I should be glad that laughing is condoned more than crying in public, since at least society is emphasizing the positives in life. However, I can’t help but feel that we would all lead healthier lives if we were just able to express what we were feeling, both the good and the bad. Life has ups and downs and you can’t fully enjoy the ups unless you submerge yourself in the downs. Bottling up emotions is never healthy. That’s all for today!

Welcome to my blog!

So there I was, sitting in class when I realized that as a student, friend, and person, I have a lot of thoughts to share that I am not always comfortable saying out loud when the opportunity arises. Which is weird, because I’m comfortable saying some pretty outrageous and out-there stuff. I figured as an aspiring writer and as someone who has dreams of changing the world, what better way than to start this blog. Feel free to look around!