With next semester's class selection looming over my head, I was having an "attack of the futures" episode in my marketing professor's office. Earlier that week, I had graced my performing arts advisors with a "who even am I" spasm. At the rate as I was going, next stop was falling into crumpled pile of potential on my honors advisors' floor.
I started my college career at Emerson as an acting major. As much as I loved accessing feelings and what not, I felt that half of me -- the logical, quantitative half -- wasn't getting a workout. I picked up a double major in marketing communications. Tack on an acceptance to Emerson's Honors Program and I had my feet in three departments by the end of my freshman year: the Performing Arts Department, the Communications Department, and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. But, no biggie, I could be good at everything all at once, right? At least that's what I'd hoped.
Being broad but not deep made me feel like an imposter. I wasn't fully "in" anything: I quickly realized that my though I was involved in three different departments, I only had time to dip my toes in each of them. I used to be the type of student who spoke up a good bit in class, right or wrong. But, after a semester or so of swinging between my acting classes, my honors classes, and my marketing classes, I found myself quiet. Someone who knew more than me would speak, right? I'm only half a marketing major; the rest of me is an acting major so I'm probably wrong. It worked in reverse in my performing arts classes. Soon enough I felt like I wasn't really qualified for anything, despite my good grades. I was just good at tricking people into thinking I was competent.
Oh my god, I'm a hat-juggling dilettante, I kept thinking. I'm the kid who picks up three different instruments and never puts in the time to master any of them. I'll never be an expert in anything -- I'll just be base-line good at a couple of things and try to squeeze by on that for the rest of my life.
Soaked in deep-seeded insecurities, I marched into my marketing professor's office. I handed him this quandary and with pleading eyes said, "Hi professor, can you figure out my life for me?" He laughed, under the impression I was joking. Pulling up my credits, he said, "What seems to be the problem?" I launched on a longwinded diatribe about feeling incompetent in my classes and circled around to the real problem: "Alright, so maybe I could be qualified for all of the industries that I am preparing for, but does preparing myself for multiple make me unprepared because I'm not focusing on anything?"
He sighed, "You don't need to seek out a dream to chase, Becky. I think you're one of those people whose dream career will find them."
"Okay, that's inspirational and all, but logistically speaking..."
"Logistically speaking, skills are translatable and it's about conveying to potential employers how what you learned in your acting classes can help you in your work with them. And it can, it definitely can."
About a week later I attended my school's internship fair, where I packed four resumes: non-profit work, marketing, theatre, and writing. After much resume juggling, I finally pulled out the marketing one, and approached a well-established agency. "How should I structure my application because I don't have any agency experience, but I have a good amount of non-profit media work...." I droned on. The recruiter took a look at my resume, and then at me. After noticing that I had three other resumes on me, he said, "You're a Swiss Army knife, aren't you?" I let that sink in. "Yes. Why yes I am," I smiled.
And that's what I've realized. At the end of the day, I'm not "half" anything. I'm a Swiss Army Knife, not a hat-juggling dilettante. I have multiple translatable skills and passions and I want to develop them all. So sue me. Yes, I may have trimming to do and I may overwhelm myself, but broadening my education isn't a bad thing, especially with this private school's price tag.
I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, what career path to follow, or who I even am at the moment. But, I'm one Swiss Army Knife that is excited to figure it out.