Why Your Arts Degree Wasn’t a Waste of Time
By an attractive woman who holds a PhD in Classics and Ancient History
Everyone who earns money and swans about in outfits made solely of avocado skins looks at you like you’re a loser who’ll end up eating cat fur in a gutter. Hell, maybe you even joke about your interest in the design elements of gutters (Shhhhhhhh….).
But here’s why you’ll get the last laugh.
People with Arts Degrees Live Longer
True story, check out the stats (yeah, I just psyched you out by offering to share data and didn’t bother because – fuck it, I’m in Arts and you can find your own stats).
Nothing is likely to kill you faster than spending your life looking down your nose at people who had the balls to do an Arts degree. It takes a lot of (negatively-charged) energy to value people based solely on economic systems that every Arts student knows are merely arbitrary structures dependant on context and cultural vagaries.
Studying the Arts sets you up to understand the perpetual constancy of change. The couple who can only talk about how happy they’ll be once the new wing for the fourth bedroom is finished (tradesmen are *just* the worst, aren’t they?) is a couple you know are missing out. You know that the real meanings can be best found smoking a good joint in a dingy warehouse with a bunch of philosophers.
People with Arts Degrees have Better Sex
This one is a real no-brainer. If you’ve spent more than half an hour with a group of Arts students, you’ll appreciate just how quickly the conversation devolves to sex. Consent, fetish, best practice; Arts students are up for a thorough deconstruction (if you catch my drift).
Not only that, many Arts students study sexual practice, the cultural valuations of intimate relations, or the role of power in gendered interactions either directly or indirectly. Arts students invented procrastibation and then they wrote papers about it.
I accept my share of responsibility here. I’m a specialist in the Vestal Virgins. These women were selected as children based on the assumption that they’d maintain their chastity for a MINIMUM of thirty years. You can only imagine the stories about how well that went. Or just how long it took me to finish writing any conference paper because I deserved a break.
Arts Students Know How to Solve Real Problems
People are everywhere and you know as well as I do that Communism is a perfect system that failed because people got their hands all over it. The real problems in this world involve exploitation, slavery, racists, homophobes, and fascists.
The problems scientists and mathematicians can solve are cool, but without ethical practices and without appropriate legislation, these are fields ripe for corruption by people.
But congrats (or covfefe, as you wish), you did Arts. You are an actual bona fide expert on human beings. What motivates them, where historically we, as a species, have some weaknesses. Now if only we could get the good folk on the internet back on side…
Which leads me nicely to the next important point:
You’re an Idealist
I know, I know, you’re also the most cynical mofo out there. I hear you, but listen up. Arts has prepared you for the very worst that people are capable of, but you ended up here because humans fundamentally intrigue you. Why do they do anything? People are just so mysterious…
The stories that make you cry? The ones where people fight for ideals that are about fairness, fraternity, sorority, egalitarianism, liberty. We’re all kind of jealous of the French for getting this one thing right and carrying on smugly ever since.
What are you still doing on social media? Fighting tooth and nail that people remember what is really important about being alive in human form:
- supporting each other;
- looking out for the vulnerable amongst us;
- lifting up those who are struggling;
all with the knowledge that people are not the sum of their context and no one’s birth place or situation should be their destiny.
I’m capable of writing in this way because I was fortunate enough to be born in a country that had support systems in place. A land that rewarded school students for their intellectual potential (shout out to 90s Australia). I went to uni because the fees were small and I could defer the payment of them until I had a real job. My belief in the power of education to change lives is based on my experience. I fought hard for everything growing up and I was LUCKY to live at a time where that hard work was recognised. I want everyone to have those chances. That’s the Arts mindset 101.
You Know How to Deploy Sarcasm
Probably the biggest win in this quasi-listicle, let’s face it. Who runs the world? Arts degrees. Yeah, we are the faithful bastion between civilised speech and incoherent yelling on the internet.
OOOOKAY, sometimes we yell incoherently, but that’s only because we have a plus twenty bonus on vocabulary and a tricksy multiplier for spotting bs and logical fallacies (or phallacies [see section on ‘sex’ above]). Shut-up, dice rolls are about chance – I’m normally very logical and easy to understand.
What would twitter be without the Arts? It’s a vehicle for witty repartee. You, better than anyone, know the value of a hard word limit. Sharpen those word swords and take the vast land of Rhetorica for the under-rated bachelors!
You Actually Love Cats
Speaking of your spinster- or man-cave (both can also be called a robust library complete with intimate other), you genuinely love cats. There’s a good reason for this. Your fascination with humanity began with your father. In those secret moments alone you are willing to admit that you adore cats because they just feel so familiar in some undefinable fashion. Is it their propensity for sleeping? The way their inner monologue of ‘fuck you, human’, is so obvious? Probably that and the way that everything has to be on their terms. That’s why you had to move out at nineteen and work in retail (which you hated) wondering why no-one acknowledged your genius while you turned in brilliantly argued papers on the failures of the Delian League.
But where was I?
Oh yeah, cats. An Arts degree is an entrance to a beautiful world of fur, purring, and giving up all your bed real estate for those dark days when your charisma has failed in that new online dating app and you end up sleeping alone. On the plus side: masturbating next to your pussy still sounds good.
You also have the facility to affirm your place in the universe. Turn on the internet, crank up your google, and youtube the next five years on cat videos. Maybe you helped out at the local shelter, but you had to stop because its not quite the right time to dedicate yourself to the important task of HAVING ALL THE CATS.
You Are The Most Interesting Person at Middle-Class Dinner Parties
Not that you get many invites. Could it be your arrogance? Unlikely. It’s mostly because your circle is largely made up of other Arts people. But every so often, kinda accidentally, you end up at a weird party or dinner, where everyone owns a house and/or an investment property. Conversation basically involves people wanking bullshit out of their mouths instead of words.
Like I said, it’s weird.
Anyway, once you wipe the droplets of spermatozoa that look like small apartment complexes from your cheek you manage to turn the conversation to a topic you can own.
Morality and the ethics of late capitalism.
This ploy has two benefits. It flushes out a lot of logical fallacies (fun!) and it usually means someone with waaaay more money than you makes sure you never get invited to dinner again. Ah, the sweet, sweet power of entitlement. This frees up more time for hanging out with your cat, which is good because the whole dinner party thing has left you feeling anxious about the state of humanity. Like, literally who has enough money to have dinner parties? Humanity, soooo mysterious.
Tools For Navigating Your Anxiety
Maybe the most important of all. People of all walks of life and degrees experience trouble with their mental health, but you’re lucky. You have a built-in network of friends and colleagues who have a framework for talking about mental health, navigating anxiety, and spotting the signs that you might be sliding into a more dangerous place.
Arts heightens your understanding of people in really particular ways. Some of your training makes it easier to approach difficult situations; you have an expanded toolkit for empathy, argument, and compassion. And you’ve surrounded yourself with a rich array of amazing, incredibly strong people who wear their fragilities openly. Their courage shows you that this is a safe space to cry and be held without the expectation of anything else.
So your Arts degree was not a waste. Not at all. It’s the thing that has built you a foundation for your life and provided you with incredible insights into human nature, even if you are still baffled about how a demographer and part-time columnist could genuinely think giving up avocado would mean you could enjoy a super huge debt you’d definitely end up defaulting on when they next raise interest rates. Because, as you are well aware, Arts provides you with plenty of mental richness, but not necessarily that much steady income.