Living with Arts

Lack of direction seems to be a chronic and highly contagious infection around university campuses. No one I’ve met here, from the science kids to the law students, have been able to say with 100% certainty what they want to do after their few years of academic limbo are over. Yet whenever I leave our cosy university bubble I find myself constantly addressing the same questions, most of the time with the response: “No, I don’t think I’ll be a politician.” Yet if uncertainty plagues our thought processes so much, why are we content to get up every morning and head out to expand our minds with information that, for the most part, is totally unpractical for that nine-to-fiver we’re probably going to face?

Arts students in particular seem to be the butt of every joke in terms of the usefulness of our degrees. Sure, my extensive knowledge of Laura Mulvey’s feminist film theory may not specifically help me in the office, but will I still fully enjoy writing another essay about a book, or a movie, or a painting? I find my favourite moments every day are listening to the background song in a café or passing a new piece of politically agitated graffiti. It is the excerpts of human expression that can’t be communicated through convoluted conversation, which I find myself looking for to motivate me in my navigation through the curious and uncertain plane of youth.

The idea of a career is a fairly vague and evanescent one right now. I long for the days where one minute I could say with absolute assurance I was going to be a detective, and the next, I was going to move to Africa and become the next David Attenborough. But in listening to the besieged career counsellors in high school trying to fit me into an easy category, I remember one example of a woman with a passion for watching reality television. After starting in the mailroom of a network, she became an TV executive watching reality shows from around the world and deciding what the network should produce next.

I love that in studying here, I don’t have to chain myself to my desk to memorise and drill facts into my brain. I have the freedom to learn on my own terms. And although there might not be an immediate job waiting for me at the end of the degree tunnel, I know with the skills I’ve obtained over my years here, I will get a job that I’m driven to find, after taking the road less travelled. So, seeing a new band, or taste testing a new coffee hub isn’t a waste of time right now, because I like experiencing culture. And I’m not going to regret taking another course about literature or film because I really like it, and I’ll have time to worry about my corporate promotion a bit later.