By Caitlin Chciuk
Seeing my family at Thanksgiving always gives them ample opportunity to ask me questions about my life. Normally these questions are along the lines of “how are your classes?” and “how are you and your boyfriend doing?” But this year took a different tone.
In just over two weeks, I will be finished with my undergraduate degree. I will be done with my four-and-a-half years at Lock Haven University. Once the school mails me my diploma, I will have a pretty piece of paper that says I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree. So the question of the holiday (and, frankly, of my whole semester) was “What are you going to do after you graduate?”
I will be moving back to New Jersey and living with my family for a while. And I will be waitressing.
Usually when I tell people I’m going back home and working in our local diner, the response is “Well, that’s nice, I guess.” Then I add in that I’m working my butt off to be able to go to graduate school in the fall, and they seem to get a little more excited. But what many people don’t realize is that I’ve made my living waitressing on and off for seven years. They don’t understand that my diner feels like a family to me. And with the way the housing market is in New Jersey, it makes more sense to live with my parents and save money instead of attempting to find an apartment of my own.
People often wrongly assume that English majors are setting themselves up to wait tables for the rest of their lives. (Another question I’ve been asked fairly often is “What can you do with an English degree?” The answer I like to give is “a lot”.) It isn’t that I have nothing better to do after I graduate—in fact, I’ll also be working at my mom’s newspaper at the time, too, getting experience in my field. Part of my reasoning for going back into the food industry is that I don’t want to establish myself in a regular job and then have to leave that job for graduate school. Another part of it is that I’ve loved waitressing for years and have missed it a lot while I’ve been in college.
In this economy, I’m lucky to have a job at all after graduation—even if it is “just waitressing,” as many people say. And I’m lucky that my parents have not only agreed to but want me to move back home with them. I’m blessed beyond words at the outpouring of support I have from both my biological family and my diner family.