By external measures, I’m slowly inching toward becoming a Real Adult. So far I have a bachelor’s degree in English, a full-time Real Job, and an apartment in which I not infrequently empty the trash.
I work for a well-known, long-standing, national/international charitable organization, which means I get to feel good about myself when people ask what I do. It’s particularly effective because I look like I’m about seventeen, so the conversation usually starts with “How is school going?” and progresses to this:
At this point, people picture me doing touching, altruistic things like bandaging the wounds of orphans and rescuing kittens from hurricanes. Sometimes an urgent text message or ninja attack will cut off the conversation here, and the person can continue thinking of me bathed in the white light of selflessness.
Otherwise, we proceed to Step 2. “Really? What do you do there?”
Even after this exchange, I usually come off all right. I mean, I could have been answering phones for Big Bubba’s House of Assault Rifles and Animal Testing, but in this job I can help both the needy and my fragile sense of self worth.
A few months ago, though, I ran into my very excellent 11th grade English teacher. He asked what I was up to these days, and I prepared for the veneration to which I have become accustomed. My teacher, however, skipped directly from Step 1 to Step D.xiv:
I did not have an appropriate answer.
So I crept home and continued validating my life choices as before, but with more vehemence. “Keeping this journal is writing! Look at me as I use my degree!” “Wow, that was a great e-mail about cleaning the office fridge. I am totally building my portfolio!”
Then one day, as I was putting off loading the dishwasher by trying to read the entire internet, the full and blinding glory of the Information Age struck me like a truckload of very shiny cement:
“Hey, blogging counts as writing, doesn’t it? I mean, there’s words and stuff.”
Even better, new technology has provided a lot of important-sounding terms with “publishing” in them—self-publishing, e-publishing, desktop publishing, people-DO-TOO-read-this publishing—that I can now apply to myself.
Extra Credit: What do you do with a BA in English?