What with all the changes going on in life right now, I feel like I'm being handed a blank slate, and I have the opportunity to do whatever I want with it. I am starting out at a new ground zero, in the best possible way.
I've spent the last 21 months (!!) since I've been home from Paris thinking about what I wanted to DO with my life--thinking about how to move forward, how to make my mark on the world. There is something in me that can't be content simply living my life without giving back and trying to make the world better.
I've gone back and forth between so many things--things that I really do love and have an interest in, but ultimately realized aren't the best fit for me:
- Art History - working as a professor has its perks, I'm well aware. But I don't know that it would make me happy and excited to go to work every day. I think Art History is just a great hobby of mine, not a passion that will translate well into a job. I do still think it would be fun to do museum education, but I think I'll do it on a volunteer basis, rather than as a job. I was mistaking my wonderful sister Amy's passion for Art History as a deeper interest than I really had. Does that ever happen to you? Someone is so passionate about something, that just listening to them makes your heart beat faster, and makes the subject far more interesting to you than it might otherwise be? I feel that way when Amy talks about art. And silent films. :)
- Literacy Education - I feel so strongly that education is crucial for every person--man, woman, boy, girl--regardless of their station, religion, access to technology, etc. Everyone should be taught to read and write, learn basic math skills, and learn a trade or attend university. However, ultimately, I don't think I want to be a teacher, and I don't think an administrative position would be very satisfying for me. It's too hands-off.
- Fighting Human Trafficking - This is something that I have been thinking about for the last few months. It's something I feel really strongly about getting involved in--I think it's atrocious that there are people on the earth that still think it's okay to buy and sell other human beings for their own benefit. Again, working in this field means I would probably be in an administrative position behind a desk somewhere, which doesn't really appeal to me. I would rather be involved on a volunteer basis or donate money to an organization I believe in.
- French Masters, PhD. I love French. I love France. I love francophone literature. But, like I mentioned above, I don't want to be a teacher. I don't really want to be a professor. I am satisfied to just love French and continue to develop my language skills. And go back to France as often as humanly possible.
I have always wanted to be an artist, and for years I thought about graphic design, but beyond knowing that graphic designers made "pretty things," my knowledge of the profession was pretty limited, and I didn't know that it was very possible to make a living as a designer. I thought being a graphic designer would be more along the lines of the "struggling artist," which I didn't think I could handle. Now, after having worked really closely with the graphic designers at my company for a few years, I have a much better understanding of the different kinds of projects graphic design involves, a little bit of the process, the back-and-forth with customer/company expectations, and the crazy hours that the designers often work leading up to a huge deadline. And also how much they make, which isn't the deciding factor, but a comforting reassurance that I wouldn't be destitute doing what I loved.
I think for a long time I did French because I loved it, and for a long time I kept doing it becauase I was good at it. Once I realized I didn't want to be a teacher, the career options seemed really limited.
But here's the realization I had a couple of weeks ago, when I sat down to think about what really makes me happy:
If I didn't have to worry for one second about my personal financial security, what would I want to do all day?
Paint. Draw. Create.
So that's what I'm going to do. I am going back to school to get a BFA in Art and Visual Communication, with an emphasis in Graphic Design (and a second emphasis in Fine Art - Painting, if they'll let me!). When I realized that creativity is what really makes me tick, everything fell into alignment for me: it felt way more authentic than Art History (for obvious reasons, mentioned above), it felt more marketable and more like something I would like to do for a living than French, and it's something I am geniunely interested in and want to develop skills in (and have wanted this for years, without daring to do it).
And here's the best part: I can do all of the things I mentioned above! I can continue to love and learn French, I can be involved in Literacy Education, I can help fight human trafficking, and I can support cultural and museum education/outreach, all through graphic design. I can have my cake and eat it, too, without changing my qualifications every time I turn around. Talk about the best of both worlds.
I got accepted to school on Friday, and I start in May.
I can't wait.