If you’ve come to read my ramblings, it’s likely that you too have been wrestling with the idea of coming out as an Arts major for some time now. It’s far from easy, I know. But then again, you’ve probably had to write 3000 word essays on Plato’s Parmenides, or analyse Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by now too – so you’re no stranger to emotionally challenging times.
However, here is my advice. Straight from my big massive brain that is bursting with useless information about arty farty stuff.
When you do sit down to have “the talk” with your folks, be careful not to reference the above emotional challenges. Words relating to Medieval literature and name dropping of philosophers are only going to dig you a hole.
“And is this Socrates fellow going to get you a job, is he?” Your Dad will say.
“Plato?! You mean that potato factory below in Longford?” Your Dads Dad will say.
Honestly, things will be easier if you start off gently. Offer them a cup of tea – maybe a mikado biscuit – and in the same breath, tell them that you’ve decided to take a little risk in life.
“Like toffey pops instead of mikados?” Your brother might pipe up.
Nod your head. If you are a true Arts student, you should have realised by now that you can make all kinds of crazy comparisons, and come to pretty much any conclusion – as long as you back it up with a quote or something, you’ll get full marks.
Tea and toffey pops aside, the chances are you’ll be dealing with a tough crowd. They probably won’t be into the whole words thing. So save your comparisons and metaphors for your Christmas exams, and consider using pictures instead.
Maybe you could turn the occasion into a presentation. Give yourself no more than five minutes to prepare – you should be well used to this style of study by now. Grab your coconut milk latte, over-sized knitted jumper, fake DOC martins, pack of rollies, and start to gather some multimedia images. Maybe one of a brain, or the world. Or a brain that is the world. Then some birds inside a rain drop, the clouds, a little bit of renaissance art. You know yourself.
Show your family the brain that is the world, and tell them that everything is connected. When they look back at you with the puzzlement of all life’s mysteries on their faces, tell them “Yes, exactly!”.
If they start to question you, question them! Ask them: what is the meaning of life, what is important?
“GAA! Pints! Sillage! Pennys, hun! Dermot Bannon and Room to Improve!” The answers will be varied and inevitably wrong – but do not give up on majoring in “the orts” just yet.
Try throwing a chorus of repetitive “why?”s at them. This is an ancient strategy I picked up on in one of my philosophy lectures, and has helped me out in more situations than you can imagine.
Bouncer: Sorry, love, not tonight
Bouncer: You’re too drunk
Bouncer: You drank too much
Bouncer: Maybe you wanted to escape from some inner turmoil
Me: So much inner turmoil
Bouncer: Ah go on in and enjoy yourself so love!
However, I must warn that this strategy does come with some risks. Your mother may tell you to stop acting like a six year old, or your sister may throw the “How do you plan to make money?” question at you.
This is the point that I would suggest hitting them up with a bit of “Isn’t the search for meaning and wisdom a little more important than money?”.
If you do not feel that the argument is being turned around in your favour, say “hey look! There’s a match on the TV, and Dermot Bannon is probably going to be on afterwards!”.
Don’t fret. If studying Arts subjects has taught me anything, it’s that everything seems to work out grraaaannnd in the end. Even at the ending of Canterbury Tales your man says that everything was grand. I think.
And if you’re still unsettled, try taking a metaphysics module. You’ll soon realise that you don’t even exist.