Interesting Finds

I have been all over the internet this month, so there’s a lot to share. Enjoy!

Have you ever wondered what those schoolyard bullies turn into? I’ve had to deal with a Regina type. Funny when she left how everyone at my job started getting along a lot better.

It’s hokey but true: a picture is worth a thousand words. What words come to your mind when you see all these male authored books flipped backwards?

If you’re a language nerd, like me, check out these 10 things about the Englihs language.

I am a naturally negative person. I simply have trouble seeing the bright side of things. But I’m willing to try a few of these 10 things to make my life better.

This infuriates me. Good thing Angela Merkel has a better hold on her temper than me.

If you don’t know the horrifying events happening in Chechnya right now, this is an important read. It makes me sick to my stomach.

And if that got a fire burning under you, here are 8 calls to action so you can help.

I’m finding this world a difficult place to exist in right now. It’s hard to believe what humans do to each other. All any of us can do is stay positive, stay informed, and help in any way we can.

Public Service Announcement: I’m Heading Back to School!

On Friday, the entire story of how I arrived at the point of determining that I need to go back to school will be live on Anxiety Ink. The short version of it is this: I want to acquire new writing skills and eventually find a career that challenges and utilizes those skills. So I have enrolled in a professional writing certificate program specializing in marketing and public relations.

Because I work nearly full time, and I do not want to try to figure out my vacation to do the courses on campus, I am doing distance learning. I’ve never taken any online courses before so this will be interesting in itself.

My first course starts in April and I am so excited.

However, even coming to the point of enrollment, I am floored at the cost. And that’s what I want to touch on a bit today.

Right now, I work at a day job where I make just above minimum wage with a limited amount of hours I’m allowed to work. I’ve made it work, and I am on track to pay off my Canada student loan this year and then my Alberta student loan next year. I graduated in 2013 and gave myself a 5 year window to pay those suckers off.

Now, having done some minor job searching, I’m feeling underpaid and under-challenged, though I realize I’m unqualified as far as being able to head in the career direction I currently want to go in. I don’t mean for this to sound conceited, but there is not much I can’t learn. As long as it doesn’t require advanced physics or neuroscience or a non-Latin alphabet, I can learn it.

Nevertheless, people don’t want to take you on if you don’t have a piece of paper that says you’ve been educated. Because I earned my BA Honours in English, I understand the skills required and acquired in that process. I also know how those skills can be applied to a variety of jobs. Unfortunately, that opinion is in the minority as far as the job market goes.

I don’t regret earning my English degree, though I am wishing I had minored in either business or communications or something else. Anything to show people that I can excel in the workforce. It’s irritating because I can –I’ve been working since I was fourteen– but I can’t find anything long-term to suit my degree.

I love the arts. I will never not admire the arts and what they give society, but those outside of them do not value what they can bring. Heck, I’ve met people inside them who think they’re bunk.

I graduated with an astronomical amount of stress and debit with no career options. I was fortunate enough to find a job close to my house and have parents willing to let me live with them largely cost-free, but I’m ready to move on.

It’s a good thing I am an excellent saver despite my meagre earnings because this certificate is going to cost me upwards of $3500 in the end. Couple that with my outstanding debt at about $12,000, and the price of my education leaves me scratching my head.

It’s unfair, we live in a world that says we need a college education to truly advance and build a worthwhile career, but that doesn’t account for the insane costs that not many of us can handle. I’m in a better position than most, though I don’t come from an affluent family. I’m good with my money, I’m driven, but if something were to happen to one of my parents tomorrow I would have to drop out of this program because that would place an enormous financial burden on my shoulders.

We have to spend money to make money…I’m $30,000 in, where’s my cut?

I value education, I always have. But between the costs of education, the cost of living, and the availability of jobs that will pay me well to use the skills I’ve spent years developing, I’ve got a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

Learning –Should I Take the Plunge?

On the heels of my annual spring slump, which I discussed in my last post, comes my dire need to shake things up and find meaning. Post-slump, I start to get itchy in both my personal and professional lives –I feel like I should be doing more, challenging myself more… Needless to say, a lot of feelings of inadequacy come out of it.

The only answer I really know to all of my problems is learning. However.

I have no desire to get an MFA; I never have. I don’t think having a degree in Fine Arts necessarily makes you a better a writer, unless you’re looking to get into the academic politics of creative writing. I don’t have the patience or the energy for such a world. Maybe that will change, but not in my immediate future.

Neither am I at the point of wanting to go to graduate school for anything in English because I don’t have anything to add to academia at this time. I can be part of the conversation, sure, but I want to start a conversation, not merely participate.

As for going back to school to study anything else, my heart’s not in it. Not to mention I’m still carrying a swack of student debt that I don’t need to add to simply on a whim.

Thus, I’ve been leaning towards more life-applicable courses in a field I never thought I’d have any interest in: business. Even writing that down gives me the heebee jeebees. But I work for a large corporation, and there are parts of it I want to understand better, and I want to have the knowledge and skills to put my feet in other doors because there are days I feel like I could be easily walked past. Plus, being a writer nowadays is akin to owning and running your own business, so any base in that area will be a boon for me.

I love the abstractness and critical thinking that are part and parcel of academia, but those outside of that world don’t have a clue that those are the main skills cultivated, or that those skills are important and widely applicable. Thankfully I am a person who can pick up almost any skill and apply my knowledge in a lot of circumstances; but sometimes people don’t want to take the gamble with me. I’ll admit I feel a bit vulnerable in the real world sometimes.

Then of course, money is an issue. As is time. I know if push comes to shove I am a good saver and a good prioritizer. So, do I take the plunge where learning is concerned? I’m still thinking, but I do have a course in mind and I’ve been looking at my budget.

Why Did I Get an English Degree? Is it Useful?

For every person who decides to enter the discipline of English there are two questions we loathe to be asked. Why? Because these questions rarely convey curiosity or interest. More often than not they drip with confusion and condescension. Like no one in their right mind would choose to get an English degree or find it useful.

My answers to these questions are all mine. Perhaps there’s overlap with other members of my faculty, but I wouldn’t know. The only people who don’t ask why someone has decided to earn a degree in English are other English majors. Not because we have more couth than most, but because we couldn’t imagine not earning such a degree.

Why did I get an English degree?

Over the course of my life there have been only two unwavering constants: I love to read and I love to write. My attention to either has ebbed and flowed over time, but I always come back to both.

I have a healthy interest in other disciplines, like biology, philosophy, history, and anthropology to name a few. I enjoy spending time -when I make time- on other hobbies, like painting and drawing. I go out and socialize, of course. But I could never devote myself to any of these as I was able to do with English. I was fortunate enough to realize this before entering university. Retrospectively, I’m relieved I knew instinctively from the get-go.

The time and dedication involved in getting a Bachelor of Arts in English is mind-boggling. The amount of reading and research required to complete three papers per course is torturous. Multiply that by roughly three English courses a semester on top of other classes to fill requirements and the stress level is insane. But if you want to do well you figure it out, and you figure it out fast.

I did well. And I was beyond burned out when I handed in my final paper.

Yet, I wouldn’t change a single thing. There’s something alluring about literary criticism. Taking apart minute details and ideas found in some of the best pieces the English language has to offer is exhilarating. For me at least. No matter how tired I was, how short on time I was, I could always find a measure of entertainment while writing essays. That, if nothing else, kept me going.

Is my English degree useful?

My current day job has placed me in the world of finance, a place I never imagined I’d be even during my interview. My degree isn’t explicitly useful there, but I find that all the skills I learned over the course of my four years pop up quite frequently.

However, I find my degree instrumental to my writing. No, I don’t think any writer needs a background in English to succeed. There are too many examples that would refute that claim if I even tried to make it. But my background elucidates a lot of things.

I felt super proud after my convocation.I didn't even trip on the stage!

I felt super proud after my convocation. I didn’t even trip on the stage!

For instance, I have an excellent grasp of the English language. I am not one of those grammar savants, to this day I can’t tell you what a gerund is without using a manual, but I have a good ear. I can listen to how a sentence reads and figure out what’s wrong with it immediately; given the number of essays I’ve written I’ve grown adept at writing relatively clean first drafts because I didn’t have hours to spend editing every single essay; and, I have good line-editing skills because I was my only editor 85% of the time.

I’m also familiar with writing techniques and devices. Similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, foreshadowing, and the like have been drilled into my head so often that they’re second nature to me. I’m not saying I am perfect at using them, but I know where and when they should be at least during the editing process.

The writing and communication skills I’ve reinforced by earning my degree are invaluable to my fiction writing. So long story short, yeah, it’s useful.