I am currently in the twilight hours of my time at Georgetown. I am writing the last paper I have before graduation. While I am excited about finishing, there is no real sense of finality: this might be my last paper with CCT, but in reality, it’s one of the first papers of my career. That’s right, at 25, with no “real” work experience, I have a career.
When I graduated from George Mason with an English BA in 2008, I could not find a job. I wasn’t even able to find work in retail, not even selling coffee or books. It was an incredibly depressing year, and the worst part: it was just a stepping stone between BA and MA. Getting into Georgetown was an absolute dream come true, getting to go back to school was all I wanted. Just before Fall 2009, and during my first semester at CCT there were voices of dissent, that what I was doing was some kind of joke, not “real”, that graduate school was a cop out, that it was easy and unimportant, that it indicated some immature, incapable element in my character.
Graduate school is no fucking joke.
On the 20th, I’ll graduate with 80-some other CCT students who have done incredibly interesting, innovative, important and difficult work for their degrees. I’ll graduate without ever having having had a full-time job, health benefits, and never having seen a cubicle or 9 to 5. I will however, graduate with a career, a 122 page thesis, innumerable papers, 3 conferences, a TA position, a personal archive, a vocabulary (which enables me to actually speak a secret language) that you would not believe and the knowledge that there really are 21 functional hours in a day, everyday. I will graduate having thought about and written about difficult, complicated things, things which are playful, powerful and yes, have stakes. Most importantly, I’ll graduate knowing what I’m capable of.
I cannot truly express how impressed I’ve been by the people I’ve worked with in graduate school, how much respect I have for people who take on academic work. Everyday of the last two years I’ve watched my peers and professors take on things which do not even touch the lives of most people, things which require a level of devotion and focus, thought and intensity most people will never see. Some of my CCT class will go onto jobs, some to Phd’s, and some to an indeterminate future (I am in that third group for the moment.)
What matters, though, is that I’ll graduate with a pretty good idea of what I want from my life, and while there is no promise of a job, and the security it brings, there is the promise that I found a place to belong, a space to work. I’ll take my year off, and have a look at “real” life and then I’ll go back to where I belong –
As far as everyone who before I began, and while I was in graduate school, raised their eyebrows, and treated me like a child playing a meaningless game because I didn’t participate in the “real world”: my world is very “Real”, in fact, I question your ability to even conceptualize notions of the Real to a degree which would allow you to question what I have done, and quite frankly, I do not care what you think, and I never will.
I have learned so much from my classes, and more so from the people I’ve interacted with at Georgetown. On the 20th, we can graduate knowing we’ve achieved something important, personally and beyond ourselves. We have every reason to be proud of ourselves, in fact, we have every reason to be smug.
So, on the 21st, I encourage you all to take a deep breath, and then to look around you and try not to panic as you are confronted with a “weekend”. This thing is called a “Saturday”, and as I understand it, people in the “real world” get it “off”. Just slip some Deleuze (or whatever you poison/security blanket might be) into your bag and keep your head about you as you take all that you have learned into the world.