As I approach my final semester at Saint Louis University, I am nearly constantly pestered with the question of what my post-graduate plans are. Add to that the fact that my first major is in Women’s and Gender Studies, a widely misunderstood and unknown area of study, and that I also have a major in French and a minor in Political Science. At this point, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked “So what are you going to do after you graduate?” I probably wouldn’t have to do anything after I graduate, and I could jump right into retirement. Or, at the least, I could pay off some of my student loans. Alas, I do not have those dollars. And the question remains: what am I going to do with my hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars degree?
Honestly, I am slightly appalled that our society wants and expects people in their early 20s to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. (This is even more appalling when I consider that the same is expected of 17-year-old high schoolers.) Further, why do I have to choose just one thing? Why can’t I change the world in many ways over the course of my life?
My girlfriend recently introduced me to the term “multipotentialite.” A multipotentialite is just what it sounds like – someone with many potentials. Truly, I think that all of us are multipotentialites in some way or another. How can we expect our lives to be defined by one aspect of our lives: our “one career”? We are all multi-faceted people with many, differing interests. This should be celebrated.
What do I want to do with my degree? Change the world, of course. And pay off the debt that my degree has so graciously left with me. Who knows if the two will ever work well together.
I want to dismantle the racist, capitalist patriarchy.
I want to teach people in places of privilege to listen to those people whose oppression is benefiting them.
I want to advocate for queer rights, for a world in which people with queer sexualities and non-conforming genders are safe and happy, always. I want racial justice. I need to work for racial justice and understanding within the deeply divided queer community.
I want to work for racial justice in greater society. For equal access to education, housing, food, protection. For an end to racial profiling and stereotyping.
I want an end to gentrification, and its replacement with integration of communities and inclusion of their long-time inhabitants.
I want peace. I want an end of gun violence. I want to work for the rights of prisoners, some of the least-valued and least-respected members of our society. I need to see an end to the racist and unjust criminal justice system and its use of inhumane capital punishment.
I want gender justice. And the end of a society in which I am (horrifyingly) no longer surprised to learn that a loved one has been sexually assaulted or abused. I need to work towards an end to catcalling as a daily, living perpetuation of power structures, and of men’s complete ignorance of this reality.
I will continue to live a hairy life. And I will work to see the day when humans aren’t openly and immediately disgusted by seeing natural body hair on women.
I want to inspire others to change the world, too. I want to help people recognize the great deal of injustice in our society, and to not dismiss feminism as something needed only in other nations.
I want to stand in solidarity with all of those who are denied fair and equal treatment in our world. To me, this can mean so many things that I simply cannot choose one. I cannot tell anyone what I want to do in one sentence, because I cannot choose a group of people among this list (and not listed) for which I choose to advocate more than the others.
So, what will I do with my degree?
I will make the world a better place. Maybe I will teach, or be a public defender, or a community organizer, or a blogger, or a big-shot deliverer of speeches. Maybe not. Time will tell. In the mean time, I’m going to get through school, and try to make the best of that time. And when graduation day rolls around, I will celebrate. And then I will figure out what is to come next. I will live my life in a way that fulfills me and uplifts others, taking each step one at a time, using what I have learned thus far in life, and learning more all along the way.
After graduation, I will live my life. And that should be all that matters.