I frequently kick myself for not having gone to translator's school, or copywriting school, or teacher school instead. But as it is, theological training is what I have, and Scotland is where I live, and so, believe it or not, the best thing I can think of to do right now is learn Polish.
This is not to discourage Catholic women who already are in theology school. If you are in Ireland, the USA or Canada, there are many more Catholics and therefore many more jobs for which M.Div. or a Masters in Theology prepares you. And, of course, when you live in your own countries, you develop contacts over the decades. There's a reason why new immigrants-with-PhDs end up driving cabs; it's because they have not developed networks of acquaintances who hire people. Alas that I cannot drive.
As usual, I was not rooted in reality when I tried to decide, post-divorce, what to do with my life. I kept thinking "academic career", even though I had no clue about the "academic career" job market, not to mention the absolute necessity, in the humanities, of getting along with powerful, neurotic people, which means possessing the abilities to keep your mouth shut and to dissemble your true thoughts--abilities I completely lack.
All this adds up to poor Auntie being one man away from a welfare cheque, as the saying goes. Well, actually, two. Every once in a while my father comes into the kitchen in the morning to find yet another recently unemployed child eating his "Fruit and Fibre" cereal.
These grim thoughts were inspired by this letter from India. Read it and pray for the writer because she certainly does not have my personal social safety nets.
Hello Aunty Seraphic,
I’m a long-time reader from India. Thank you for all the advice you selflessly provide every day for women such as me. It’s a huge comfort to read your positive uplifting posts, which are apt for me, since I really have nowhere else to turn for advice.
I have your book “The Closet’s all Mine,” which I ordered some years back and I loved it too.
I haven’t read the post about being offended by the term “spinster”. However, I do have one very event that occurred last week (actually several have occurred over the course of few years). Now, please keep in mind that I’m now a 34-year old Indian, who has never actually dated. Had no luck with the arranged marriage scenario; it did not help that I had a rare blood disorder and have had several medical complications.... It also didn’t help that I have dark skin, which automatically puts me in the “unattractive” category. Why, my alcoholic father, in one of his drunken rages, lashed out at me when I was 14, telling me I was so ugly that no fellow will want to marry me. Talk about prophecy.
Anyway, back to the spinster talk. I lead a small team of people at work, and my team and my new manager went out for lunch. My manager of course had assumed I was married since no one remains single past 28 in my country. When I told him otherwise, his expression turned to that of shock and the chaps in my team just laughed their head off. I was humiliated but there’s really no point in reacting. Thankfully, the topic was changed. As a woman in India, I have to deal with a lot of openly misogynistic behavior on a daily basis, and I think I’ve learned over the years to ignore such stuff. Very hard at the beginning, but really showing that you’re upset, only gives them more power over you and makes you look bitter and foolish.
Dear Aunty Seraphic, however, if there’s one piece of advice for young singles, which you can take from my life experience and weave it into a nice post, it is that young women should be clever enough to think of a good career option regardless of marriage. This is something I’m bitterly regretting now and is driving me to real depression.
I did not choose a very ambitious line, since I was pretty sure I was going to get married and hopefully have kids some days. Now, my career is a dead-end and I have very limited prospects and I really loathe my job now. Now a at 34, I don’t know if I should go to grad school and spend a whole bunch of money... I feel like I have dug myself into a sink hole, which I can’t seem to come out of and I feel like a real loser. As for marriage, there’s hardly any hope there. Eligible fellows are taken and I really have no opportunity to meet any.
Perhaps my experience can help some intelligent young NCG avoid this same folly. Please pray for me aunt Seraphic. I feel so abandoned.
Letter from India
I have replied to "Letter from India"--who, at 34, is most definitely not too old to learn a new trade--but have not yet heard back. What I have to say to you girls is "Learn. A. Trade." That trade may be trading. That trade may be sewing. That trade may be teaching schoolchildren. That trade may be pediatrics or computer programming. That trade may be hairdressing. Or plumbing. Or preparing tax returns. Or robotics. Or translation (for the UK, German is very hot right now). Or pharmacy. Pick something you think you would very much enjoy, that you do relatively easily and well, and that will make you money. Please don't sleep walk through an Arts degree and then go into debt for an Arts M.A. Sometimes I wonder if American academia hasn't turned into a pyramid scheme.
Which reminds me of a speech by the dean of one theology school I admired. He described its student body as a "pyramid": mostly women "on the bottom" and a few male religious "on top".
How I cried.
Update: And all you mothers, move heaven and earth so that your daughters are taught math properly. Girls not being able to do math should send off as many panic signals as boys not being able to read. Being able to do math means being able to do science which means being able to study pharmacy or any of the healing trades or computer science, which is where the highest-earning trades for women are. If your daughter otherwise loves school and does all her homework except math, then maybe the problem is not that she is "lazy." Not that I am bitter or had a psychotic math teacher who blighted the career prospects of two generations of women who still discuss her with loathing.
Update 2: This post is sufficiently negative that I should feel that I should add that great teachers and professors have outnumbered the bumblers. Also theology school led to blogging which led to helping a lot of people and meeting B.A. So I don't really regret going to theology school although, dagnabit, I really wish was earning a decent living, and I'm not because of my own