New Beginnings: The End of the Age of Idealism

The best part of being an English major was the blend of the sharpest, most beautiful minds, sharing opinions, insights, and ideas.

It was a laid back major, really.

Others outside the English Department viewed it as a cult, but we knew it as a community. Strangers shuddered at our sheer amount of writing and reading, admiring us for our hard work and patience. What they didn’t know was that homework for us consisted of sitting back on lazy Saturday afternoons and catching up with engaging novels, and writing meant unleashing the colorful beast of creativity. The beauty of it all was that opinions are opinions: English was never about being right; it was about having something to say and cultivating its delivery.

It was a good idea, the English major. We formed intellectual bonds as we grew as people, hand-in-hand with the most inspiring mentors. And everyone always had something to say. Class was an exciting debate over ideas, which continued at local coffee shops, art galleries, music events, and poetry readings later.

We had discovered the world of ideas. It was beautiful. And we were happy and hopeful about the future, knowing that we were following our hearts—and what could ever go wrong with that? Another really good idea.

Then suddenly we found ourselves out of school and we split up. Some moved away from our college town, to the big capital of the state, to work in prestigious firms as secretaries, others moved back home to help with the family auto-tech business, and yet others found couches to crash on as they waited nervously to hear back from new schools—safe havens from the unnurturing, to the English major grad, “real world.”

One moved to New York City. She was the most hopeful of all. She would get angry when even teachers would laugh sarcastically and say, “Good luck with your copyediting dreams,” or “Do you REALLY want to be a teacher?” or “Why do you want to write so bad?” Determined and serious, she was ready to face the challenges and prove everyone wrong.

So she worked extra hard, this girl. She signed up not only for the English major, but also art school. A graphic design degree, she figured, would give her a versatile edge and a leg up in the competition later when she would break into the publishing world.

And so, after graduation, as all the English major grads crumbled in despair back home, she packed her bags and moved to the big city. Lights, camera, life: She was ready to face it all. Her heart pumped excitement as she stood in the busy little streets outside her new apartment for the first time. Yes, she definitely felt ready. And she was the most hopeful of all.

It’s been about four months since that day, and her spirit is just as bright, although her youthful idealism has split down the middle, and like a curtain, drawn smoothly to let reality seep in. It was blinding at first, like an intense light coming all at once, but soon her eyes adjusted. After years of growing up with the most hopeful, idealistic figures in literature, she finally saw the truth: Those dudes are great for talking, but when it comes to the real, concrete world, they don’t know the first thing about life.

Life forces you to adjust, and change when you need to, something those writers never taught you as they preached, “Never Change,” and “Be Yourself,” and “Carpe Diem.” Or the funniest of all: eh, she had already forgotten.

So her habits changed, and so did her mindset. Now there were new mottoes, as well, like, “Give me liberty, or give me money to pay my power bill.”

But life wasn’t over. She just had to get creative, apply for every job remotely related to her education, squeeze in freelance projects for the extra income, extract warmth from her undying dreams instead of the costly heater, and take a deep breath every now and then and remember to keep living.

And, perhaps, start a blog to keep her writing skills sharp as she waited for her own chance to be discovered.

And this is where she started.

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About tali2

I am a recent grad of the wonderful English major. Though I don't regret studying English one bit, I realize why my teachers, parents, friends, and imaginary mentors warned me against it: Because it leads you nowhere. But it did give me great writing skills which I hope to continue honing in this blog as I chronicle the tribulations of the terrible job hunt in the terrible job market of NYC. And I hope that my blog reminds fellow unemployed recent grads that you are not alone, inspires some hope within us, while presenting a snapshot of our lives to others who do not share the same self-imposed troubles.
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One Response to New Beginnings: The End of the Age of Idealism

  1. Khushboo says:

    beautiful intro… i love it… i don’t think i’ve ever seen your writing before this 🙂 i’m very proud of you for pursuing your dream and keeping your head high and doing all that you can to reach your goal. you’re my hero *wink* miss you hun

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