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 Jamie Enoch Career Path Leads Back to School

By Jamie Enoch

Four years ago I was working in a hospital as a nursing assistant, earning eight dollars an hour, when my car broke down twice in one month. After the second costly repair I decided to return to school to pursue a career.

My college experience was a meandering journey the first time around. At the age of eighteen, the main thing I had learned in high school was that I had no real interest in anything except acting in the senior play. However, attending college was something that was expected of me, like saying “please” or stopping at red lights. The fact that I got to escape the confines of my parents’ home and live in the dorm made it the greatest adventure of my life. Nevermind that I had no career goals, no ideas of a major, and no discernable talents of any kind. I assured myself that the perfect career would magically emerge, perhaps in a dream, and the difficult decision would be made. Until this happened, I reasoned, the first two years of school could be spent getting those pesky basic requirements out of the way. Then when I did have a major I was passionate about I could devote my studies to it exclusively.

I managed to keep up this magical thinking through the first year and even make the Dean’s list both semesters. The fact that I could read the entire catalog of degree programs and not find a single glimmer of interest in my heart rarely concerned me. No one else seemed worried, either. My parents were confident I would find my way, and many of my friends had no idea about their futures either.
So we all went through the motions and waited for the prophetic moment when we would know for sure what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives.

By the second year, I began to lose confidence in the imminent epiphany, and I began to lose interest in school. No answers were coming. No careers jumped out at me. I had late night talks with friends, where I agonized over the fact that I didn’t know what I wanted. My biggest fear was making the wrong choice, and I was paralyzed into inaction by this fear. At 20 years old, I believed being stuck in a career I did not love was a fate worse than death, and for some reason, an irreversible mistake. I calculated in my mind how long it would take to get a degree, decide I hated my job, and go back to school for another degree. I would be almost thirty! This was so horrific a scenario that instead of risking it, I didn’t make a choice at all.

My third year was spent trying to improve on the miserable grades of the second year, but it was becoming harder and harder to fill a schedule with “basic studies” requirements. I took more and more electives. Even my parents were beginning to gently ask what my plans were. I had bounced between a major of biology and being undeclared. I enjoyed science and math classes, but I had no earthly idea what a biologist did or what one did with a biology degree. I honestly think I may have chosen it for the absurd reason that I liked animals.

Suddenly I was looking down the barrel of my fourth year. A decision had to be made. Thanks to my lack of commitment to anything in particular, I was not within one year of any degree. I sensed my parents would not spend any more money on electives so I made a decision. Based on one class I took my second year, the fact that I did not want to take a foreign language, and a lead part in my high school senior play, I declared Theatre as my major.

After a total of five years of college, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. Though I loved acting and loved being on stage, I was a rather mediocre actor, and I earned a degree in Theatre without ever being cast in a full size university production. I was truly serious about acting as a career when I first made my decision, but two years of rejection wore down my already too-fragile self confidence, and by the time I graduated, I knew I did not have the stomach to join the ranks of actors searching for work who share an unemployment rate of 80-95 percent.

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