Written by Abi Humber Tuesday, 24 April 2012 15:49
Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty dramatic about my future. Big surprise, I know.
I’ve reached my mental capacity from considering the vast array of options that exist, then reached my emotional capacity after coming to terms with the fact that none of those options particularly interest me.
This crushing disappointment has led to an intense, ongoing inner monologue:
“Has my entire college career been a huge waste? Should I have gone a totally different direction...like maybe tried to live in some African jungle, riding elephants and learning to make soup from tree bark...or something?”
“Of course not,” I tell myself, “There are way too many spiders in the jungle. Big ones, too.”
But should I have come to North Park? Should I have studied communications after all? What does that even mean? What if I had gone to the East Coast? Or the West Coast? Would things be better? Or worse? Or exactly the same?
I don’t graduate for another full year, but I’m already incredibly anxious about the uncertainty of my future. This uncertainty is further intensified by the presence of my seemingly more prepared peers.
So many friends seem to be studying for careers in deliberately chosen fields. When they graduate, they’ll have a piece of paper that proves they’ve honed a very specific set of skills that qualify them for equally specific jobs.
For the most part, I mean, nursing majors become nurses, youth ministry majors become youth pastors and education majors become teachers.
In my case, though, communications majors become...umm....
In his March 6 column, fellow Free Press columnist David Vogel (“Don’t Ask Why”) perfectly expressed my sentiments. He said, “The problem is, I’m a communications major, which means I’m highly educated in being qualified to do virtually nothing.”
I’ve been browsing the Internet for internships in the writing/communications field, thinking that some real-world experience might help me get a grip on my long-term job interests.
But even that has been discouraging.
I’ve been telling people I want to be a journalist. It’s not a total lie, but it’s the closest I can get without giving them a deeply complicated and wordy schpeel about what my ideal career is.
The more I read about what a journalist’s job is actually like, though, the less interested I am. Cue cyclical, cynical thinking about how the past four years of my life have probably been a giant waste, now that maybe I want to do something else....
It was during one of these half-hearted internship searches that I came across 826CHI.
I don’t know how it happened. I stumbled across this Chicago-based non-profit writing center amid a whirlwind of frustration, disappointment and negativity. And, quite frankly, I was much more focused on Facebook and my 17 YouTube tabs than the results from my internship web query.
Call it a miracle, call it luck, call me an expert Google searcher. Whatever the cause, I’m glad it happened.
826CHI is a non-profit writing center in Chicago. It offers a variety of programs for kids ages 6-18, all with the goal of “strengthening each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his/her individual voice.”
826CHI “supports students in both creative and expository writing endeavors through drop-in tutoring, after-school workshops, field trips, in-school tutoring, help for ELL students, and help with student publications.”
From what I’ve read on the website (which looks rad, by the way—they’ve got some incredible Web and graphic designers on board), all of the volunteers, interns and staff seem to love three things: writing, creativity, and helping young people find success by combining the two.
826CHI has given me a spark. The uncertainty about my future still exists, but now it’s mixed with some excitement—the prospect of an adventure.
This organization seems like the perfect culmination of my interests: writing, which I discovered while at North Park, and helping people, which I discovered during my time in Skid Row, Los Angeles.
I was so excited about this discovery, I felt the need to tell everyone around me.
Once my adrenaline-and-caffeine-induced-826CHI-gushing session wound down, I decided to channel my excitement into filling out their volunteer application. If I’m accepted and the vibe of the place is as amazing as it seems, I’ll apply for one of two fall internships. And from there? Who knows. Maybe I’ll love it so much that I never, ever leave.
On the other hand, it’s totally possible that my flood of excitement about 826CHI is unmerited. Maybe what they’re doing isn’t as “perfect for me” as it seems right now. Even if that’s the case, though, I’ll live. The simple act of discovering them has renewed my energy.
826CHI is awesome, but what they represent for me is even cooler. I now know that places like this really do exist.
Maybe this thing my teachers keep talking about, where your passions meet your skills (“vocation”) is something that could exist in my life.
Maybe there are places where my communication skills can be put to good use, but I won’t have to sacrifice daily interaction with my community.
Maybe I don’t need to joke about needing high levels of anti-anxiety meds to manage my weird life. Maybe I just need to sleep a little more, breathe a little more, and learn a little more about places like 826CHI to calm me down and help me stay positive through the uncertainty.