What does it mean to “build a life”? Someone mentioned that phrase to me the other day in a discussion about life and career and interests. It’s something that’s been on my mind recently, and comes down to ownership and choices and alignment. I wonder if living life really is more active than I think I think it is. I wonder if it really is like writing a story (I’m sure Donald Miller would say it is), where you brainstorm and dream, come up with plot and characters and events, and then set it down on paper. The other question is, Whose story is it? Whose life is it? It’s very different to go through your day believing that this is your life, this is your thing, these are your choices, rather than going through the day living for someone else, and in constant question of, “Is this the right thing?” When you can take ownership of your values and choices and passions and hobbies and personality type, then that’s when, I believe, you start building a life.
It reminds me of the words of Youngme Moon, former senior associate dean at HBS: “Please remember. You were put on this planet to build a life. Not to build a résumé, and certainly not to build your net worth. You are here to build a life, a life full of impact and a life full of meaning.”
Unfortunately it’s behind the subscriber firewall, but “Why Go to Grad School?” seeks to debunk a number of misconceptions about humanities studies, such as, “There was never a worse time for humanities studies” (like we’ve never heard that one before ::eyeroll::), and “There are no academic jobs.” I appreciated the way the author didn’t just say, “No there isn’t, yes there is…” but insisted that we broaden the view of humanities graduate career value past academia. One of the value adds of a graduate humanities degree is that:
You know a lot about a little, and you know better than most people how to look things up—particularly at a time when there is so much cheap, unreliable, useless information out there. If you can convince people that you are better at generating and handling information than they are, you will be valuable. Write and analyze better than the average college graduate, and you will see why a number of employers value that skill, too.
This is all personal to me because I’m a creative writing major who works in higher ed administration, at a business school as…a writer. If you keep your options open, train for solid transferable skills, and be realistic about what’s out there and market yourself accordingly, you will be fine.
Check the article out if you can!
For those who don’t know me, I’m a super big Gilmore Girls fan. (You have no idea.) On our day off yesterday, my friend, who’s another super big Gilmore Girl fan, and I decided to go to Connecticut to find one of the towns Stars Hollow was based on. We ended up in Guilford, CT, and were not disappointed . We essentially overlaid the show onto the town, and created an alternate universe that afternoon. Sorry, Guilford, but you were commandeered!
Hey gang, I’m writing fiction again! I’m sure you’re like, Wait, haven’t you been writing all along? Nope. Here’s why.
I’ve always created stuff, from comic books to screenplays to novels, as long as I can remember, and it was in tenth grade that I knew I wanted to be a writer. Fast forward to me at 31. Most of my adult life had been working part time, and using that other space to write. I got a BFA in creative writing, and started an MFA. I had written numerous short stories, worked on a few novels, took an uncountable amount of workshops, and was running the Boston Book Blog. I was 31, had been doing writing for fifteen years, and had made no money off of it. Only three or four stories of the many I had sent out got picked up for publication on little-known websites, some of which shut down after a few “issues.” Rejection letters were more than I could count. The blog was gaining traction and attention, but it was still something that wasn’t bringing in any income, nor would it. I was exerting all of my effort and talent in an industry that doesn’t reward you on effort or talent. I was told by professors that my work was great but it didn’t translate in the real world. I was reading absolutely terrible stories in the publications I was sending to. It got frustrating to say the least. Continue reading
I was thinking the other day, as I often do, about life. I’m actually pretty much always thinking about life: where I’m going, where I’ve been, ways to improve and tweak every area. A question came to mind as I was walking over the Weeks Footbridge back from Cambridge to my office (that doesn’t matter but I figured I’d set the scene): Am I working towards building a foundation, or am I working towards hitting a target?
We humans go through life in certain ways characteristic of our temperaments and personalities. It seems like the answer to this question would be, “Whatever floats your boat!” and might be a question of whether you’re a J or a P on the Meyers-Briggs (if you know that). But I don’t think they both have advantages. I think one is inherently dangerous. Continue reading