When I was finishing secondary school, my otherwise offhand eldest brother sat me down and told me in no uncertain terms that I should by no means study a degree in English Literature and Drama Studies (at the time, the dream – now the almost unfathomable reality). No, he insisted, this would be quite incorrect. The only true course for me would be, get this, computer programming. Ladies and gentlemen, the fact that I know that I have ten fingers and toes is more down to a memory of repetition than any real numeracy skills. I sweat at the notion of electronics. Even an overly‐long loading screen is enough to make my tongue fuzzy with horror at the notion of needing to investigate. I’m not about to proclaim that I was born to tread the boards, but I was definitely not born to program computers. That much is a certainty.
It didn’t stop there. Even my brother’s wife was quick to assure me (despite her degree in English) that I should steer clear and apply myself to the sciences. I was rightly confused by this seemingly contradictory stream of advice, but let’s be real, this wasn’t the first time I had heard it. When you tell someone that you study drama in college, you tend to get a mixed bag of reactions. A lot of people are wildly interested, asking about the logistics of such a degree, often telling you that they would have loved to pursue something similar. However, just as often, you can get pitying, indulgent smiles, and sometimes you can feel like they have a point.
So, Aoife aged 18 is faced with the advice to chuck it in and do a sensible degree. Not even an uncommon idea. Plenty of my contemporaries were laying aside childish things and preparing themselves to study accountancy and become quantity surveyors. Damp and sweaty with fear, I cast wildly from friend to friend and eventually turned to my best counsellors: my long‐suffering parents. With an air of enviable zen, mater and pater intoned that I should study the thing that I like best and enjoy my life and field of study, with no concern for prospective joblessness. I was intelligent, they told me. I would find a way.
And so, with a deep breath, I checked the option and put down my dream course, with no real expectation of getting it. However, when August rolled around, no one was more surprised than me when I got my little acceptance. Life was good. Life was sweet. Life was suddenly gloriously unemployable.
And so, here I am, three years later, feeling very educated and confident and lucky to be so deliriously happy in the course that I am in. But here I am. It is three years later. I am entering the final year of my four year degree. And then what?
I look around at the brothers who are both working diligently. One is married with a child. A real human child. And a job in finance. The mind boggles. We were raised in the same nest. And the other has a doctorate and works as a data scientist for a fancy start‐up company that has a dog and its own barista. Both of these boys followed different dreams than I did, and good luck to them in that. I am happy that I followed my own dreams and have the opportunity to create as often as I do. Of course no doubt, when I am eventually released into the real world I will struggle into a real job, have myself an income, pay taxes and have adventures of this kind. But it will always be just a touch different for me than it was for my sensible brothers.
At the moment, the future beckons – but from a little way off. I have one year’s grace period. I’d better make it count.