i am now scared of the future

As if my constant second-guessing and wondering whether I should have just looked for a job weren’t enough, this morning I was eating breakfast with my parents, and, thinking it was the Sunday Book Review, I picked this up. So now I’m even more worried that I might be doing the wrong thing. Here’s why.

One of the articles in this segment suggests that your graduate school debt not be higher than your expected future salary. My anticipated three-year-debt will be approximately twice what I can expect to make, if I get offered the higher end of the average librarians’ salary in my first year.

Another article was about how the master’s is the new bachelor’s, which basically means that I will be nothing special, right? I’m still only going to be most basically qualified for jobs, right? Or does the fact that I’ll have two master’s make me somewhat cool? Or am I basically just going into the debt that I so smartly avoided for undergrad, and essentially not making myself much more qualified than the average person, if the new average person has a master’s degree like me?

People with graduate degrees make more money than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees, but the amount they make varies by field, and humanities and liberal arts has the lowest difference in salary between graduate and non-graduate degrees. Plus, essentially all librarians have master’s degrees, so wouldn’t the real discrepancy in that field be between master’s and doctoral degrees? So I lose.

It’s not like I can drop out at this point, and it’s not like I actually want to. But when you have a genius idea for a bookstore you’d like to open, your high school and college friends are all getting married and getting jobs, and the New York Times decides to freak you out, it’s hard to retain perspective. So here are my ways of reassuring myself.

Graduate school will make me happy, because I have never gotten the enjoyable academic experience I’ve been seeking since third grade. And mental and emotional health should not be taken lightly.

I keep complaining about my rising to-read list, and now I’m worried I’ll never find the time to read it all, but graduate school is a time when the government loans you more money than your mother makes in a year, all so that you can eat and drink and read books all day long.

Graduate school is where liberal progressive nerds come home to roost, so conceivably I should finally be able to find my people, right? Intellectual soulmates and fellow awkward smart people to be nerdy with, at last!

My big sister might be the youngest person in our family to own her home, she has a husband and 1.5 kids, and she’s not awkward like I am, but at least I’ll beat her to a second degree?

I really like learning and being an intellectual elitist, and having two master’s degrees will keep me a viable player in that game, even if I am moving to the intellectual elitism capital of the world.

If graduate school is what it takes to get me to a career I think I could be good at and be happy with, since my dream careers are mostly dreams, than that’s what matters most, right?

That should hold me for awhile. I think I just need school to start. A month til I move, about six or seven weeks til classes (and my birthday! agh 23–here comes a new existential crisis).


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