Evelyn’s note: I went to high school with Marabeth and her husband Ian. In this post, Marabeth will share her story. She’s comin’ from a different set of experiences than me (married! moved across the country! wants to do music!), so hopefully she’ll help someone out there in the same situation. Thanks Marabeth! We’re rooting for you! And if any of you want to contribute to this blog, email me.
“You’ve got this pearl of a decade in front of you: THE TWENTIES. This is the prime of your life! You’ve been on a straight educational path since you learned to tie your shoes, and now suddenly you’ve got a diploma, enough energy to run the length of the globe, and all of the freedom in the world. So how are you going to spend the glorious days of your independent youth?”
From Delaying the Real World by Colleen Kinder
Who am I?
Good question, I’ve been wondering that myself lately. But let’s start with the facts. I’m 21. I just graduated from Abilene Christian University a month ago with a degree in Vocal Music Education. I’ve been married for a year to my high school sweetheart, Ian, who got a crazy awesome software development job in Washington before he even graduated. We walked the stage, then moved across the country the next day.
What did I do in college?
Well, I was planning to be a journalism major. Then, as a high school graduation present my grandma sent me on a tour of Italy with the Lipscomb University choir, as they needed some extra singers and I love to sing. We were touring Rome, when, in the Pantheon the director started a song out of the blue. We all joined in, and the usually bustling crowd slowed around us and everyone just stopped and listened. It gave me chill bumps – it was amazing. After that, I knew music was my calling and my passion, so I majored in it.
Unfortunately, the only practical way with a charted path to create an income out of music is to teach in the public schools, thus the education component of the degree. Around junior year, I realized that teaching in a public school setting was not for me.
At the same time, I also wanted to get married, which meant that I needed to get out of school ASAP. So, I decided to cram a 4.5 year degree plan into 4 years. That was stressful, and there were so many days that I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it. On top of that, my school only focused on classical music, and I really wanted to branch out. My private lesson teacher actually kicked me out of her studio because I joined the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. I was frustrated and felt trapped in the degree (student teaching was looming ahead), but I decided to push through.
Student teaching didn’t go so well. In fact, I didn’t finish. I won’t go into that whole story, but to be honest, I was relieved once it was over. I had quickly found that teaching music to forty 1st graders at one time was more about crowd control and cute Texas-themed programs for the parents than about really connecting with the students and encouraging their musical inclinations.
I’m not saying that’s how it has to be or how it should be, but given the budget crunch and the state of public school right now, it’s the sad reality. The natural (but unforeseen) consequence of my race to walk the stage is that I now have a degree that I don’t want to use for what it was intended for.
So, what am I doing now?
Like I said, we just moved across the country. So honestly, I’ve spent a good portion of the last month unpacking boxes and exploring my new area. I’m also finding the gorgeous scenery up here a welcome change from the dusty plains of Abilene, TX.
I’m really blessed by that fact that my husband has a really great job, and thus there’s no rush for me to make the big bucks. But, I have always been a doer, so to speak, and tend to fill up my schedule to overflowing (an unhealthy habit). So this abrupt change in my life (no social contacts, no job, no responsibilities) has been kind of a shock to the system. I know I could go get a job as a waitress or in retail, but there’s something in me that says, “I have big dreams… why should I postpone them just because they don’t lead to income right this very minute?”
The truth is, even though I don’t want to teach music, I still want to do music. My ultimate dream is to have a worship ministry like Kari Jobe or Audrey Assad (look up their music on iTunes – I love it!). The problem is, I am so inexperienced, my piano skills are kind of lacking, I’m not currently a songwriter, and there is no charted path to that kind of job.
In an attempt to pursue said dream, I had an interview last week for an unpaid Creative Arts Ministry internship at a church up here. I was super excited about it, and pretty sure I was going to start in the next couple weeks. But then, I got an e-mail that although it is still a viable option, it will have to be postponed until October. Super disappointing. So the question is, what now?
Well, thankfully, there is a school of piano and composition right down the street from my new apartment. I’ve started taking lessons and it’s a whole new world (I’m learning things that college just didn’t teach me – imagine that!). Also, there are a lot of performance opportunities in my new city. I’ll be singing at an Irish cafe here in the next month, which is something I’ve never done before!
Also, in college I became a Jazzercise instructor. I’m a year into teaching and it is always my favorite part of the day – I get to dance, encourage other women, and make a little money on the side. I have recently begun to think about opening my own classes to give myself a project to work on and make a little more money. It definitely wouldn’t support me if I were on my own, but hey, entrepreneurship (even with a franchise) can be really rewarding.
How do I feel about post-college life?
There are days when I honestly feel a bit depressed. I really miss ACU, which is funny because I was so ready to leave when I was there. It’s more a matter of missing the familiarity of my old life than truly desiring to go back to it.
Then, there are other days when I feel like the luckiest girl in the world – I have a wonderful husband, I live in a beautiful place, and I have the freedom to pursue my wildest dreams. Though it can be daunting, it’s also exhilarating when I realize that the only thing holding me back is my own doubts, fears, and insecurities.
I am young, I am strong, and I am adventurous. The same is true of you, too, I’m sure. We’re at a turning point in life, and we get to choose which direction to go. If you need a boost, just pull out Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go and take it to heart!
What is the takeaway from my story?
Read this post to find out!
Blessings, and may we all find exciting adventures and worthy challenges in our post college life!