Even before Christmas I had been planning to leave my current career of three and something years to follow my dreams; by no means was it an easy decision. The thought of changing paths encompassed every day until I was tired of the idea of it. I’d played with the thought many times but, on receiving a Distinction for my MA in Classical Civilisation at Birkbeck, I took it as a sign to move on. Time has a habit of moving quickly and I didn’t want to still be in the same position in a few years time. So I set about putting things in place for the summer and quit my job! It was bittersweet; exhilarating and scary all at the same time. I’d made so many strong friends at work and it was mostly now the main body of my social life; we drank at least three times a week together, and that was usually on a light week.
I’ve had a lot of mixed responses to my decision to swap my full-time job and security for complete uncertainty. Well, almost complete. Everyone has had positive responses, but mostly the guys have teased me about my choice of ‘digging’ for a career (media is very ‘lad’ and banter heavy!) “Why do you want to just dig up pots for a living?!” they would ask in incredulity. This was of course not what I was going to do but I went along with the joke anyway, creating fictional stereotypical archaeologist characters for my future friends, such as Babs who wears a fleece and likes a good cuppa.
Many have struggled to understand the point of what I want to do. “Hasn’t everything been found already?” Again this is a massive misconception; the possibilities, avenues and discoveries to be had in ancient history are endless; this is part of its charm for me. I once said I am doing it to make a difference and do something that will be remembered (I had in mind my goals of being published etc.) and this was met with utter disbelief. “Yeah because everyone needs to know about Roman gardens. That’ll really make a difference.”
In answer I could easily attack the media industry that I have honestly grown to love. It is vibrant, full of young people with ambition and gumption, creative and idea-driven. However, it is ultimately a disposable industry. Nobody enjoys adverts. In fact, if I had heard one more self-important speaker at a conference exclaim how wonderful consumers find their latest ‘disruptive’ advert, how it has changed their lives and, without their realising, made them act… just give me a pillow to scream into now. People today have been driven into the ground with consumerism and messages shouting in their faces (see my blog post on The American Dream? for America’s take on this). Really they want something to belong to, an identity. Why else are memes so important? Points of similarity and our abilities to identify these are what makes us human. History in many ways can provide some of the answers to these gaping holes in our capitalist lifestyles.
History not only builds our collective identity but also our sense of belonging. It reminds us that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. It is a world of infinite possibility, discovery and stories. Is is our past, present and future. Now why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that?
My boyfriend in the present, my parents in the past and the nature of my own upbringing have given me the courage to take the biggest step of my life into the unknown. I cannot thank the people who have been integral in getting me to where I am now. Today is my fifth from last day in work- here goes nothing!