Discussion: The Future


Scary blog title, huh? Scary topic to be honest though so it fits perfectly.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life.

That felt good to admit. I have zero clue what I want to do with my life. I know what in an ideal, ideal world what I would want to do with my life but as we all know that dream of becoming a renowned Shakespeare professor and then moving into a career in theatre in London and then meeting Tom Hiddleston, him falling instantly in love with me and then getting married in a beautiful wedding which my friends and their equally famous significant others enjoys is, well it’s, not even my dream, but Liz’s dream (yeah that still kind of creeps me out a little bit, I don’t need to delusionally dream these things she does it for me).

No, but seriously now, in an ideal world I would have a specific research interest locked down and I would have applied, and been awarded, AHRC funding to finance a pHD at my beloved Lancaster University. But this is the real world and in the real world it is a Monday night, I spent the weekend doing bog all, spent this morning binge-watching Community on Netflix until I went to work for 6 hours and felt like a vaguely useful member of a team (that last bit was nice), then I did laundry and made food and now here I am. If I were passionate about a future pHD would I not be living, breathing, hell also dreaming about, my research interests? I’m not sure, and this uncertainty is what makes me suspect that I actually don’t want to continue in education. Which is ridiculous. It sounds ridiculous to anyone who knows me but it’s beginning to slowly dawn on me that maybe I don’t have what it takes to get to the next step, so to speak. And with the scarcity of teaching positions available at my university (yes I know there are other places but there’s a really lovely Shakespeare programme here okay?), it not only makes it an unlikely next step, it makes it seem nigh on impossible unless you are at the very, very top of your game. And I don’t think I am.

So what does that leave? Well. Teaching. But “those that can’t do teach” hahahaha no, I’ve never believed that, and frankly anyone who does should go take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. I respect teachers, I applaud teachers, I used to want to be one of them. But now I’m not so sure. You see the thing is, you don’t get to pick and choose your classes. You can’t say ‘oh yes I’ll teach English in secondary school, providing my students actually want to pass and give a damn about Macbeth‘, you can’t say that, in an ideal world, yes, in the real world, no. So teaching is out, for the most part.

How about publishing? Publishing is what I want to do, I can feel it. But where are all the publishing jobs? London. There are smaller pockets elsewhere but, primarily, it’s London-based. So that means you need to be able to commute in or afford to live there which um not to both. Internships appear to be pretty much the only way to try shove your foot in that rapidly closing door in the hope of squeezing in, but how do you even get an internship? Who do I have to sacrifice to get one? Seriously, tell me, let me know. And if you could also advise on how on earth I could ever justify, let alone afford to do, unpaid internships in one of the most expensive cities in the world, that would be great. I don’t have contacts. No one I know knows people. (This is the point where my grandma turns round and tells me she knows the head of editorial at Penguin? Ha, I wish.)

Let’s go a bit lower on the ladder of the publishing world – bookselling. I think I’d like to work in a bookshop, I honestly do. After all I love talking books to people, reading books, recommending books, touching books (not in a creepy way I swear), shelving books (I wish I were kidding), so I think I’d be good at it. I think I’m getting better at customer service because to be honest I feel like after having someone burst into tears in front of me and advising them calmly, I could deal with angry or irritated customers. Or, similarly, libraries… I could be a librarian, I would love that, I’m sure.

Yes, I’m floundering a bit now. And I’m whining, needlessly and self-indulgently, but this is how I’m feeling right now. I know most Arts and Social Sciences graduates go through this – especially English students, or so I’m lead to believe – but I’m feeling it particularly tonight and I thought I would take the time to vent via this blog because it helps, weirdly, and maybe venting is one way to then get over it/myself and move onto the part where I try to do something about it. I think the first logical step would be to do everything in my power to get the best grade and final dissertation possible, in which case I should probably (read: definitely) crack a book open. The future can come later, and hopefully it won’t be quite so ominous and suffocating as it feels right now.

3 responses to “Discussion: The Future”

  1. This feeling sounds awfully familiar…I went through the same, and after four years of being an English teacher, I’m still going through the same thought process. Teaching is rewarding but it is gruelling and time consuming and there’s nothing like working with people who aren’t very enthusiastic about words to lose your own motivation for writing and reading. I’d love to work in a bookshop I think, too. One with a cafe. When I know better Swedish, I’m tempted to open one up in this town. Though by then I’ll prob be ready to move again and move to England or Scotland next anyway so…we’ll see I guess. I think this has become my life – something nomadic but still buried in books. How odd.


    • When I was in school, I thought I’d love to be an English teacher. Now I’ve had a few years to reflect I realise that I do not want to be compelled to teach literature I love to students who don’t care about it. And yet I love to teach people things so why is this? It’s for purely selfish reasons – I worry it would make me disaffected and unenthusiastic, and if that feeling ever rubbed off on me, I’m not sure what I’d do. I say this, I’ll probably end up looking into it again a few months/years down the line. :P A little twee bookshop with a cafe is what I want, haha, I want the aroma of coffee mixed with that new book smell, I want to exist in it.


      • Yeah, it is very disheartening to teach to students who don’t care. I ended up making it my goal to make every student care about words in some way. My better classes loved reading anyway so that was never an issue, but my tougher classes consisted of children with no books in their home for them to read. Some of them would get into books – I’ll never forget a girl who was normally super naughty who got so addicted to reading the Hunger Games, her first ever finished books, that I let her read them in class. It was probably the most she had ever learned anyway haha. But other students I would try and get excited about other things, like word play. Nothing like tricking teenagers into enjoying making metaphors hahaha.
        But still, the bookshop cafe thing sounds a million times nicer, I must say. :)


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