Dear Universe: An Open Letter

1 May

Dear Universe,

You know what?  I don’t get you. You make less sense than Brendan Fraser’s enduring popularity.  You’re stripping my bright-eyed idealism and naivete, and turning me into a bitter grown-up, disillusioned with reality.  Already.  Like, you couldn’t have waited until my mid-twenties, or I’ve popped out some bratty kids?

Where is my place with you?  I worked just as hard for my diploma as my younger brother, who’s about to graduate with a degree in Neuroscience.  Yet he gets to waltz right into a 32K paycheck, while I serve as some cheap punchline to stand-up jokes.  Party foul, universe.  You’re not only perpetuating a decades old sibling rivalry, but nourishing the seed of doubt that has been planted in my resentful, crabby soul.

You don’t reward hard work; you only reward a certain type of it. If a BS means that I wouldn’t be eating up my parents’ retirement fund and retained the freedom to go to Taco Bell whenever I damn well please, then maybe, if I had to do it over, I would pick a different major.  But probably not.  I could have done just as well in Microchemical Biogeometric Economic Statistical whatever, but that crap makes my eyes bleed from boredom.  How can I be expected to see the board, and thus pay attention, through massive optical hemorrhaging?  Give me Durkheim over mitochondria any day of the week.

But universe, you’re not totally at fault.  Sure, you may be an unfair bigot, but you do have some jobs available for me. However, in my zealous quest for employment, you’ve forced me to realize something: sometimes I just suck at things, like job applications. Liberal artists are classic overachievers, and I was not used to failure or rejection.  When I didn’t get Teach For America, I was disappointed, but figured, “Hey, the rejection monster had to rear its ugly, falsely apologetic head sometime.”  31 appearances later, I get it, universe, loud and clear.

I’ve found something I am fucking terrible at.  I’ve sent out applications with typos, I haven’t sent follow up thank you’s, I have atrocious interview habits.  But did you have to point this out 31 times?  I mean, that’s a bit heavy-handed, universe.   Am I really that stubborn and stupid that you had to go Desert Storm on my sorry ass?  I think you need to work on your grace and subtlety.  A strongly worded note would’ve sufficed.  Or blatant text, if you’re pressed for time. “Sarah, u sux at job-hunting, gt bttr @ it. kthxbai. uni.”

Universe, I want you and me to be friends.  Let’s get all Rodney King up in here.  Help me find employment.  You know that my research abilities are unmatched, and as Ryan pointed out, I’m generous with my time and resources.  But I know that my resume can’t state “Skills: Reading, Writing, Caring SO HARD.”  So I’m kind of a little tiny bit skill-less, which apparently is an issue.  Fine.

You want people who can play the game, and who are good at what they do. I’m neither.  If I pick up a few marketable skills, like html and C++ (whatever that is), and learn how to apply to jobs effectively, you’ve got to promise to give me a job.  Because we’re friends now, universe, and friends look out for each other.  I’d totally do the same for you.  On an unrelated note, I promise to buy you a car when I’m rich and famous, because I think you’re awesome, universe, and very pretty.

Universe, this is where I’m especially confused, and I’m counting on you, with your 4.5 billion years of life experience , to give me some advice. What kind of job should I get?  My job hunt has increasingly been driven by desperation and conflicting wants. I want to change the world.  I want to fix you, universe, because you’ve got issues.  The student achievement gap?  Colossal problem.  (It’s like you hate children, just like you hated the dinosaurs.)    But I want nice things too.  For example, perhaps I want to employ a butler named Belvedere to meet my every whim.  Or  I may want to go to grad school without facing an insurmountable wall of debt.

I think liberal artists feel the same way.  We are ready to become peace warriors against “The Man,” because we’ve spent four years learning how, throughout history, he’s taken a major dump on minorities, women, the environment, what have you (dude’s a dick).  But when push comes to shove, a lot of us look for employment that satisfies a tall order of requirements.  We feel so much pressure to find that perfect job: from our parents, who want to ensure we financially benefit from their pricey investment; from society, who have been forecasting our unemployment since we declared our majors; and from ourselves, who consider our degrees a door-opener to whatever opportunity we deem worthy of our intelligence and integrity. For instance, I came out of college thinking money was a bad thing and non-profits were the only way to truly affect change and apply what I’ve learned in school, but my parents balked at the notion of working for table scraps.  My hardworking, immigrant parents, who’ll pay a total of eight college tuitions (yes, eight!), did not send me to Middlebury to live under the poverty-level for my first few years out of school.

Universe, how do I reconcile these wants and pressures?  Do you think the corporate sector is as soul-less as the stereotype propagates?  How do I change the world without living on food stamps?  How do I deal with the fact that a lot of people seem to treat AmeriCorps as a last resort, when all other employment resources have been exhausted?  Why are alumni admitting to me that their philosophy degree is impractical, or law school was a bad decision?  What do I do when my 15 year old brother, annoyed that I’ve switched the channel, says, “Maybe you should’ve picked a different degree, because then you wouldn’t be living at home,” and I know he might be right?  Why are you, universe, sending me all these signs that everything I cared about, everything I thought was important and special, is second fiddle to the world of science and economics?  Why are you reducing my studies, my universe, to a mere passing interest, something to be derided and regretted?

I know I’ve just thrown a lot at you, Universe, and I don’t expect an answer anytime soon.  I know you’re probably busy, expanding to the far corners of space, dealing with exploding stars, and consoling Pluto.  I guess I’ll just try to figure this all out for myself until then.  I think I’m due for a nice long bout of self-reflection, anyway.

Cheers,

Sarah

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2 Responses to “Dear Universe: An Open Letter”

  1. just_uraverage May 3, 2010 at 3:33 am #

    You are not the only one, trust me. I wrote manger instead of manager on a cover letter. I never even knew that could happen. And Accounting makes my eye balls bleed. Just b/c the economy doesn’t appreciate our degrees, doesn’t make us any less valuable to society… er, I haven’t really figured out how valuable I am to society myself, but you get the idea… You’ve put it in way articulate words than my akdfhalhdflahldsf?!?!!

    =)

  2. just_uraverage May 3, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    Btw, I had to look up “party foul” on urban dictionary…

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