Alice Barraclough – Post-University: the unknown awaiting

What does the future hold? It’s the mysterious question that everyone appears to be asking, albeit not in such a pompous or ostentatious manner. Questioning parents, questioning peers, teachers, and friends. Even my sports coaches have started prodding and probing. So, have you got a plan then? For after Uni?

All this unwanted questioning reminds me of those god-awful assemblies we had at school asking us to picture our lives in five or ten years’ time. I couldn’t give a straight forward answer when I was 16, and I’m struggling again now. There is something incredibly exciting but also tremendously daunting about graduating. Meeting the future. The unknown. That gigantic space in time with no set rules or regulations. Because before now, there has always been a plan, a route you had to take. Each exam a stepping stone to the next phase of our lives. But there is something very final about the end of your degree. Make no mistake; I am not suggesting that this is where the learning ends, as humans we are continually learning each and every day about the world we live in. I’m merely contemplating the overwhelming reality of job hunting, freelance writing, and postgrad saving.

What has really got to me, more than the obsessive questioning, is that it seems there is still an assumption that a degree in drama (even a Joint Honours one) means you want to act. Oh, you’re a drama student (said in a pitying tone) you must want to be an actress? Are you thinking along the lines of Keira Knightly or more Idina Menzel?

What with the recent comments from Paul Roseby of the National Youth Theatre reportedly dismissing drama GCSE as irrelevant, it brings to question drama’s relegated position as a worthwhile subject. A degree in drama does not mean a degree in performance. And it certainly does not mean a degree in pretending to be trees or other concrete items. A drama degree offers a wealth of valuable skills in literary criticism, analysis, directing, producing and play writing. It is versatile, demanding, time consuming and most of all, incredibly rewarding.

Whilst the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, would most definitely disagree with me, dismissing drama and other humanities subjects as the topics you chose to study if you didn’t have your entire life mapped out at 16. She argues only STEM subjects:  science, technology, engineering and maths, are “the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock doors to all sorts of careers.” Well Nicky, without the arts where would we be? When you get home from a long day in the office, what do you do? Put on the television? Listen to The Archers on BBC Radio 4? Half an hour watching or listening to fantasy allows us to endure everyday reality.

I appear to have gone off on a drama vs. the rest of the world tangent, but what I really wanted to end on is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the rest of your life figured out right now. Just as it didn’t matter sitting in those school assemblies’. As long as you pursue something you love, something that makes you laugh every day, something worthwhile, then you are doing everything exactly right. There is no wrong way to chase the unknown.

Alice is a Kent graduate. You can read more of her blogs here.

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