(Original post at The Boar)
Picture me at 16. I’m sat in the audience of a production of Avenue Q. The male lead, a particularly irksome puppet called Princeton, begins his first number. “What do you do with a BA in English?” he sings, “What is my life going to be?”
Picture me at 21. Somehow, the subtle warning the puppets tried to give me didn’t stick in my adolescent brain. I’m about to march out into the world, armed with my BA in English Literature and thousands of pounds of student debt. My only other skill is that I’ve mentally stored every possible variation of the ‘English degree = future barista’ joke after three years of forced interaction with STEM students.
In short, I might as well have a big sticker on my head saying ‘unemployable.’ That’s why I’ve chosen to do a Masters degree, in what will probably be a very expensive year of networking. Doing my MA means I’m still leaving Warwick, however, and so the world I’ve carefully cultivated over the last three years of study is falling away beneath my feet.
It’s remarkable how proud and how sad I feel about approaching graduation. On the one hand, I’ve achieved something remarkable and made some of the best friends of my life. On the other hand, almost every fixed aspect of my life is about to disappear.
The most profound thing I realised about graduating was that I hadn’t become the person I thought I would be when I arrived at Warwick. I had some very specific goals about my future self, few of which I have managed to actualise. My hair hasn’t improved, I’m not going to the gym, and I don’t have a handsome yet intellectual boyfriend who is teaching me to play the piano.
The person that Warwick has made is less competent, less beautiful, and less informed than I imagined I would be. Yet I’ve learned a great deal whilst studying here, from the qualities to value in a friend to the best time of day to visit the library. I’ve become someone I can like, even love, in a way that wasn’t possible before I came here.
The Warwick experience has been a surprise, often uncomfortable and a little awkward, but always pushing me in new and interesting ways. Now I’m leaving, I’m about to lose my safety net. So, what is my life going to be?
I’m moving to a new city. I’m going to meet new people. I’m going to be a proper adult. Somehow, I still can’t decide whether these things are positives or negatives. The only thing I know for certain is that I finally like the person I am, and that is a result of this bizarre, wonderful university.