One of the many longhorns on my family's ranch
Last weekend, I made a trip out to Houston, Texas for my cousin’s baby shower. For a quick little background, Texas is a breath of fresh air for me. Texas is family. Texas is relaxing, free of stress, and filled only with loud laughs, good times, and plenty of longhorns. Having only two cousins in my entire family, this was a very special occasion to begin with, but this is also the first child for the happy couple and the first grandchild for my aunt and uncle. So my mom and I just had to fly out there. There was no other option! It’s not like we look for any and every excuse to visit my grandma, my aunt and uncle and their gorgeous, longhorn-filled ranch, my pregnant cousin and her husband, my other newlywed cousin, the open space, that distinct breath of fresh air that I can only seem to find in Texas. No… we don’t look for any excuse to fly out there…
Anyways, you get the point. I love Texas. (Though feeding the longhorns after a couple years made me a little nervous at first!)
Now all this may for some reason be vaguely interesting, but what relevance does this all have to my internship, you might ask? Well. For all the fun times we have, somehow family get-togethers inevitably lead to discussions about careers. I feel like it’s always about my future plans that get talked about, ahem, seriously discussed, but I know it happens with my brothers as well. This time though, my dad (the strong force behind my career decisions) did not come, much to his dismay (mainly because it was a baby shower and guys aren’t present too often at these sorts of things…)
Nevertheless, some family members were asking what I was majoring in – Economics and English – and I got the typical response: ‘Oh. Well, um, huh, that’s an interesting combination.’ And I give my typical explanation: ‘Yes, yes I know it’s an ‘interesting’ combination, but I want to go in to publishing, specifically book publishing, and I think it works well for that.’ And they normal come back with, ‘Oh, okay. I get that makes sense’ or my least favorite response that usually involves a lot of scoffing and dirty looks and just general ‘Why are you studying economics in a time like this? What are you going to do? Fix the economy? Ha!’ No, I’m not going to fix the economy, but I think understanding what is going on is essential. By being informed, which is why I think studying economics during this crisis is particularly interesting, I can be a better citizen. I can be knowledgeable, carry somewhat intelligent conversations with people who just think that there is absolutely nothing to be done about the state of our country – and now, the state of Europe – and at the most basic level, just understand what’s going on in the daily news, understand possibly how this situation came about, why it’s persisting, what people are doing to fix it, possible measures for preventing it in the future, all those sorts of things.
One of these such conversations started when a friend of the family asked what I was studying at college, I told her, everyone in the room gives the collective response above, and I give mine, then, oh the coincidence!, the friend said that she suddenly had to go. Hmm. I know that she really did need to leave, and she was already on her way, but really?! Leave right after that conversation opener? The timing was just too perfect and I couldn’t help but think of these reactions that I get from both my major in Economics and my interest in book publishing. Both elicit such strong emotions in one direction or the other – people either want to completely discuss and nit-pick my decision for both (the economic crisis and book publishing as a ‘dying’ business), or they somehow get uncomfortable with the topics, like they are something taboo. Whether that discomfort stems from being not informed about the economy, which is entirely plausible (I am definitely uncomfortable discussing topics I don’t know much about and trying to pull off that I do), or the person for one reason or another just does not want to talk about it at all, the reactions of people intrigue me. Also though, these reactions make me a little hesitant, maybe with even a touch of nervousness, before I share my major and career aspirations! And I don’t mean to say either that any of the reactions is ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ but just the immediate responses elicited by the words ‘economics’ and ‘publishing’ absolutely amazes me. It’s tricky to pigeon-hole the reactions in to just a couple categories such as these, but that’s what I’ve seen in my few years of discussion about economics and book publishing.
Now though, as in just this autumn, I feel so much more comfortable and grounded in my major choices and career prospect, mainly because of this internship. Before, publishing greatly interested me, and I felt that it would be a fantastic fit for me even before I had much experience in the actual publishing world. But now, I am so much more confident, both with my self (reassuring when as a fourth year college student you know what you want to do!) and with others (‘Look, the publishing world may be changing, evolving, etc, but it’s not dying, and yes it might be difficult to get a job after I graduate, but at least I have a start.’)
This little incident in Texas last weekend just brought up to the very surface what I’ve been thinking and feeling and somewhat struggling with throughout my college career, and if my blog chronicling my book publishing internship is not the right place to voice these thoughts (long-winded as they are), well, I don’t know where the right place would be!