apologized, we’re good) and said: “What can’t you do with this degree?” I was just so tired of recycling plot lines to students.
Look, I get that people don’t want to take unnecessary risks. But
there’s also a point at which we have to stop thinking that if we follow
the same path as someone else, it will lead to the same outcome. Or
that we can only get to point B if we go through point A. I’m guessing
going through C is way more fun anyway. Very few things in life have
a replication model of success. There is no direct path to anything.
But I see my students, especially my female students, get caught
up in the tiniest points of plot when they don’t follow the prescribed
order. I recently had a student in my office upset that she wasn’t going
to be able to fulfill the requirements in our program for a “
concentration,” which is three courses in a specialized area. She bemoaned the
fact that she hadn’t realized there was a concentration option until she
had already taken all of her electives. She was very worried this would
impact her success on the job market.
So I explained to her that there won’t be a hiring manager who has
her resume sitting next to someone else’s identical resume, and one
more line on that other resume will be the deciding factor. I reminded
her that she is more than just tiny plot points that other people have
already experienced (concentrations, degrees, trainings). She’s a character, and a narrator. And she can easily get into an interview and tell
her own story of why she’s the best candidate. Very rarely, if ever, does
a transcript or a resume do that.
Don’t get swept up in recycled plot points. They are simply experiences other people have used in their story. And if you insist they have
to be in your story, you’re going to get that sinking feeling of familiarity that causes people to stop streaming.
The story of your life can be as dramatic, or mysterious, or romantic, or adventurous, or as funny as you choose to make it. You own
your story. You pick the plot points; you choose the cast of characters.
And while you are in the middle of composing your story, remember
how little it matters how anyone else perceives it. Don’t worry about
what others think of your choices or your life. You can only write your
story; you can’t tell others how to read it. So, the only thing standing
between you and a great story is simply your own ability to narrate it.
So tell it well.
Dr. Meg Myers Morgan is an assistant professor at the University of
Oklahoma and is the author of Harebrained: It seemed like a good idea at
the time. Her upcoming book Counter Offer: How to Negotiate for the Life You
Want—a work and life guide for women—comes out 2018 from Seal Press.
Meg may be contacted at megmyersmorgan.com.