The question

It comes in many forms. It does not sneak up unaware. You can see it coming from a mile away.

So, what now? Or And what are you going to do with that degree? Or And what are you doing now? Or any of the various versions of the same question, which usually begin with a conjunction.

You come prepared, with a party line. With a list of things you would like to do and evidence to support your doing so. But it’s all just talk - an attempt to answer the second hardest question: what are you going to do with your life?

(The first hardest question being: Who are you?)

The thing is, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that, at least not one that can be summed up in a less than ten minute conversation with a near stranger who happens to share the same bloodline as me. So I say what I think they want to hear. What I want to hear myself say. And I try to sound convincing, because everything is fine.

But with two degrees and zero employment opportunities at the moment, it’s pretty much the only conversation going on that I’m a part of.

I don’t know.

Short term? I need a job.

Long term? I need a career.

What career? Who knows. I need to commit either to finding a museum job or to going back to school to get my PhD so I can teach.

I suppose in the end it’s all just different shades of the first hardest question.


  • By Faebala, September 6, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

    In my opinion, the “who are you?” question is one that absolutely no one can answer until they’re on their deathbed and then the question is, “Who were you?”

    And it’s about which roads you took to expand your horizons as far as they could go. So far you can say you’re a girl with two degrees, who has lived in three countries, who has traveled to even more than that, who has experience in museums, history, archaeology, journalism, photography and writing. A girl who has tried her hand at painting, guitar, singing, dancing, video making and more.

    So the question of “What next?” shouldn’t mean “What are you going to do next?” but instead, “What haven’t you done yet?” without the ominous strings attached. You have opportunity and a lot of experience to back yourself up and all at only 23 years old. So what next should be an exciting question, so that over the next 23 years, you’ll have an even longer list under your belt.

    Jus’ sayin’.

  • By Emma, September 6, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

    I know how you feel. I was getting the same question from everyone in June. I just lucked out, or as one of my church ladies said yesterday, I was blessed. So, keep your chin up Heather, you’re blessed too! Something will come your way!

  • By Jes, September 7, 2010 @ 3:08 am

    I have a job and I still can’t answer any of those questions. But then again, i suppose life will get a lot less interesting once I CAN start answering those. I figure, everything has been so defined in our lives for the past five years (j school, then post grad) that maybe it’s a good thing to have a few questions? At least for the time being.

  • By Lea, September 7, 2010 @ 8:24 am

    I briefly feel lucky that I won’t have to answer these questions for a good four or five years.

  • By Eleni, September 7, 2010 @ 8:40 am

    You’re totally right. Such hard questions.

    You answer the way you think people want you to answer–the way you sort of wish was the true and complete answer. If only you were sure that’s what you wanted, it would be so much simpler. Can you wait around until you’re sure what you want for your career? Or do you just go with one good option, because you have nothing better to do right now? I envy the people who know what career they want. The rest of us are just guessing, hoping for the best.

    Good luck figuring it out. PhD-to-academia is a good option. At least I’m hoping it is :)

  • By Luke, September 7, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

    If you find out, let me know. I’m also attempting to discern what vocation an archaeologist/historian without a PhD has or what jobs I’m actually qualified for. If I find the answers, you’ll be the first to know.

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