My dad and I went out to coffee last Saturday, and he asked me a question that I have been dreading.
“So, do you still want to be an archaeologist?” he said, sipping his coffee and studying me.
First of all, archaeologist was kind of a best-of-both-world solution to my teenage quandary of “what do you want to do when you grow up?” I really would have liked to have been a writer and stuntwoman, but in my young wisdom I realized that such a path would have made my mother age at an unreasonably fast rate (sometimes it sucks being the only child). Since I have the tiniest sense of wanting my mother live through at least a decent portion of my adult life, this answer never materialized. Falling short of her ideal of my becoming a lawyer (which she was fortunately not hung up on), I instead opted for the social sciences and playing with bones (playing with bones is really, really fun). The short answer to his question, then, was yes. I still enjoy studying social structures and humanity’s sacred and profane rituals, and I still enjoy analyzing bones.
But that wasn’t really what he was asking. He wasn’t really asking if I wanted to. He was asking if I planned to.
I’m a junior in college, with less than three semesters to go until I graduate. I’ve been attending school in some shape or form since I was six. I’m starting to hate it. It isn’t that I hate the classes—I find my anthropology classes interesting, and I’ve recently discovered that political science classes are essentially a different perspective on the same topic. I was (surprisingly) the best in my class for microeconomics, and the professor actively tried to recruit me into adding an econ minor (she wisely understood that I was too far along to change majors and thus never suggested it, and instead merely mourned that I hadn’t taken an econ class earlier). I’m carrying a 3.86 GPA. I’m not the best student in the university, but I’m pretty darn good if I do say so myself. But I’m tired. I’m so tired. I haven’t stopped for years, and now that I want to, I can’t. Even the thought of taking another gap year and waiting to start my master’s is alarming. The thought of taking time off from school and doing something meaningful for a year is very alluring, but the thought that it would mean putting off starting my professional career yet another year is equally frightening.
Then, too, my parents don’t know that I started researching what skill sets are required for various government jobs. I’m multilingual. That’s got to be useful for something other than eavesdropping while I’m stuck in the airport.
I take a long sip of my coffee. It’s a little too strong, and not very flavorful. Good coffee should taste good black.
“I don’t know,” I finally say.