What Do You Do With A B.A. In English?


I’ve always loved musicals, it’s probably down to my Disney upbringing. I’ll be the first to admit I have a terribly embarrassing iTunes library, and at least 75% of that is filled with various musical soundtracks. Where my most played might have been things like Annie or Wicked back in my younger years, my poor twentysomething existence seems to be plagued by the soundtrack to Avenue Q. Admittedly, I first started listening to this soundtrack when I was probably about sixteen– little did I know how hauntingly accurate the lyrics would be in just a couple of years. Now when I listen to it, I still find it funny, but there’s also the overlying ‘oh god, this is me’ message that I can’t help but shake. Hilarious and depressing at the same time. I’ve seen Avenue Q twice now, once as a sixth former and the other as a student, and I think if I ever saw it again I’d be asked to leave the theatre due to me hyperventilating on the floor, surrounded by a pool of my own tears.

It starts off straight away. What Do You Do With A B.A. In English? I don’t know, Princeton, you tell me. If you’re me, you spend a year in bed watching Netflix and slowly coming to hate yourself and everything around you, before running off to another country to do the one thing you said you’d never do, teach English. Yuck. It gets even worse when you find out that you don’t totally hate it. But English is a pretty stupid subject to get a degree in really. I can tell you when people in books are having sex without actually having sex, what a useful trait to have. Stick it on your CV. I’d loved to have done something more vocational, but hey, at least I can let you know when you misquote Shakespeare.

Continuing on with a similar theme, the next song hits the nail on the head as well. It Sucks To Be Me. I’ve touched on my year of self loathing, well, a lot on this blog recently. Brian worries about never fulfilling his dreams, Kate Monster contemplates why she’s still single (I also like music, movies, and art too, Kate, we can have girl dates together), and Christmas Eve shows that degrees don’t mean anything. Great. All my worries in one song. Fantastic. The next one that gets to me is Purpose. Admittedly, this song actually gives me a rare burst of optimism rather than the usual crippling self-loathing that the Q soundtrack provides, but it’s still relevant to my life. Two minutes and twenty nine seconds of optimism is a nice break from the shit storm of emotions that is this musical. It’s nice to know that even if I have no idea what I’m doing with my life right now, Princeton has faith that I’ll figure it out eventually. And maybe there’ll be singing boxes.

I’ve never actually been made a Mix Tape by anybody, but the do they/don’t they like me situation is way too familiar. Usually they don’t, so maybe it’s not too similar to the musical, but hey, a girl can dream. In a slightly more optimistic note, Fantasies Come True might be actually kind of happening right now a little bit. Not Rod’s parts, but I feel ya Kate. I feel ya. And I also feel the warm fuzziness that comes with these lyrics. In relation to this, I’ve also definitely experienced Kate’s epiphany in There’s A Fine, Fine Line before, and ‘you never know ’til you reach the top if it was worth the uphill climb’ is some pretty solid advice coming from a musical that includes numbers featuring both porn and being racist.

And here we enter Act II, where I wish I had someone to tell me that There Is Life Outside Your Apartment. Although by apartment I mean my parent’s house, because now I actually have an apartment I do tend to go outside sometimes. But it’s still something I’ve listened to a lot over the past year, without ever really noticing the irony until now. Schadenfreude is another one I know all too well, particularly the time a few months ago when I accidentally ate ham and almost cried on the Metro. But hey, maybe the song is right and someone in that carriage who might have been having a bad day thought ‘gee, at least I’m not that freak crying into a croissant’. But, y’know, in Spanish.

I Wish I Could Go Back To College is another one that resonates with me. To do a different degree, just to have something to do in the day, to change stuff. But much like the cast of Q I’m aware I’ve moved on, and at 22, I’m totes too old to be an undergrad anymore. I’m not one of those students. And finally, I’d like to thank For Now, for reminding me that even though things might be shitty, everything ends. And listening to this song is a much less permanent, and even less cliché, way to remind myself of this than getting one of those ‘this too shall pass’ tattoos on my wrist. Gross.

So although I’ve seen a lot of musicals, and listened to the soundtracks of even more, Avenue Q is one that’ll stick with me for a long time. I liked it as a teenager, I lived it as a twentysomething, and I hope to look back on it fondly as a real life proper grownup one day. You know, if I ever actually become one that is.


Author: Rosanna Parrish

Brit exiled in Spain.

One thought on “What Do You Do With A B.A. In English?”

  1. Of course you’ll get there lovely! You could alway look into doing a more vocational course whilst working/doing whatever else you want! Check out CTJT courses where you could use your English skills but try them on a narrow subject.

    Although I sound it, I’m not actually a promoter for them… But if you want cheering up, head over to http://www.tazzgault.co.uk and I’ll try make you laugh!

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