First-timer seeks personal and career advice!
November 23, 2012 9:41 PM   Subscribe

21-year-old college junior seeks career and coming out advice! Lots of details inside...

I'm a long-time lurker, first-time poster, and I'm struggling in two areas of my life right now. I feel like I've made little to no progress in either area since I've started college, and I feel uncomfortable talking to my friends or family about either one.

1) I'm really unsure as to what I want to do after college. I'm currently an English major with a double minor in Geography and Mass Communications. I would love to do something related to trivia or general research - I'm a huge game show fan, and I really enjoy doing word puzzles. Currently, I'm a freelance puzzle editor and a reader for our county's high school quiz bowl league, but obviously neither one of these can be full-time careers (although I wish that was an option!), and I'm somewhat stuck on what I can do past this level with anything related to this field. I've considered moving to L.A. and trying to get any position working on a game show and then trying to make my way into the writing department through that. I've also thought about trying to obtain a master's degree in library science, but I'm not sure if I want to do any more schooling or put myself into debt. I am essentially going to school for free right now thanks to a good set of scholarships and a resident assistant position, but I am really burnt out on writing papers and school in general, and I'm afraid that it would be really hard to get a job with a library science degree. I've also considered being a flight attendant because of the flexibility and travel, although I'm not 100% sure if that's something I want to do for my entire life. I'm also uncertain if I really want to jump right into the "real world" right after I graduate. Travel has been an option on my mind, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that on my own.

I'm also dealing with where I want to live after I graduate. I've lived my entire life in the same town in northeast Ohio, and nearly all of my family lives within an hour's drive. I love the area, but at the same time, I would like to live somewhere else and trying something new. I've considered moving to San Francisco, L.A., or NYC and just trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

2) I've really thrown myself into a black hole when it comes to dating and relationships. I'm gay, but I have had an extremely difficult time coming out to anyone, especially family. As a result, I have only told a small handful of friends and a cousin - all via text or Facebook messaging. I'm terrified of coming out to my family, even though I have little evidence that they would take it poorly. I haven't been entirely covert about my sexuality - I've been on just about every dating/relationship/sex site in the area, but I've been pretty dismayed by all of them and I currently don't have a profile on any of them. I don't think people know that I'm gay, although I think in some ways it's blatantly obvious that I am, especially in that I've never had a girlfriend and I don't want to have children.

I'm sad that I've been dishonest, especially around the people who I know really would not care at all. However, I also feel like I don't really want everyone to know, at least right away. I have a lot of internalized homophobia and low self-esteem, and I've never really felt comfortable being myself, even around the people who know me best. My high school was quite small (I had just over 100 kids in my graduating class), and I could probably count the number of LGBT students in the entire district on one hand. I was a very good student but I was not really popular, and I didn't have many friends outside of school. I never received any romantic interest from guys or girls - I didn't even go to my prom! Later, my first roommate at college (which is 20 minutes away from home) was an extreme homophobe, and I didn't come out to anyone right away because I genuinely feared that he would kill me if he found out. I quickly switched dorms after one semester, and he has since dropped out of school. I've done much, much better since then - I have made several good friends, and despite some personnel issues since the beginning of the year, I have really good working and personal relationships with the other RAs in my building. However, almost none of them know that I'm gay, and I feel like I should tell them.

I'm not really sure what I should do at this point. What is the best way that I should handle this? Should I just tell people that I know won't care, and if I do, how should I do this? Should I just wait until I'm done with school?
posted by DRoll to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As far as career advice, one thing I wish I would have gotten into during college was entrepreneurship. Find things that you're passionate about and start some businesses or websites. It took me till I was about 30 to realize this. I wish I could give my past self this advice!!

I'm straight, but either way you have to hear this: Be who you are and embrace it. If people don't accept you then find others who will. Move to a bigger city, people are in general much more accepting of other's lifestyle choices. Just be yourself and try to be awesomer every day :D
posted by jboxer23 at 9:52 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a pretty big pub quiz industry you might look for work in too.

If I were you I'd look at the working in games/ puzzle industry as a long term goal and the get-a-life as a short term goal. Research a few likely places that you might get work in your industry of choice, evaluate in terms of the lifestyle you want and then just freaking move to one of them. You will NEVER be as free as you are right after college. Get the coolest most copacetic roommates you can find and whatever job(s) you need to survive and start dating and applying to quiz company jobs. Also join professional societies and set up informational lunches with people who you want to be and volunteer or generally put your self out there professionally. Trust me, this is a foolproof plan :)
posted by fshgrl at 10:12 PM on November 23, 2012

Kill two birds with one stone: develop a GLBT-themed trivia board game. I see one or two may exist, but it does not look like a saturated niche when you consider how many themed trivia games there are with different mechanics. Distribute it as a free PDF of question packets, and consider it a résumé item for the kinds of jobs you want. And I'm pretty sure looking for playtesters would signal your status loud and clear to those you mention it to.

Incidentally, I'm sorry to hear this kind of thing still feels difficult. But with respect to your feeling that you "should" tell some people, like the other RAs, I don't believe you have any duty there--just an option that's maybe reasonable or maybe not. I can assure you no straight dude considers it any damn body's business but his own what's going through his mind. I dunno why you shouldn't disclose at your own leisure, particularly if no occasion arises where it's relevant.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:36 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hey! The second half of what you wrote sounds eerily familiar. I'm gay, graduated from high school ranked fifth out of a class of 105, totally ignored romantic relationships for years, and roomed with a huge homophobe for a long time in college. It really sucked and was a huge drain on my energy! And even six years out of college, people still tell me they're surprised to find out that I'm gay, blah blah blah.

All that is to say that the whole "being out" thing is for your own benefit. Not for your friends, or your family, or your former roommates, or anyone else around you. It's just for you, for the sake of your self-esteem and your general well-being. It feels good to be yourself. You don't have to tell anyone… but you could! And you don't really need to watch what you say because you're afraid of saying too much. If someone has a problem, it's their problem.

So you really don't owe anyone a coming-out speech, but hey, feel free to do whatever you like. Join the campus GBLT group, or a relevant volunteering group, or even something off-campus, if it's convenient. Go to a gay film festival, for instance, if you can get to one. Walk in a parade. You know, whatever you want. Because the point is to enjoy being who you are.
posted by Nomyte at 12:26 AM on November 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

As someone who moved halfway across the country right after college, by all means, MOVE after college if you feel that it's right for you. You will be fine and will likely not regret the experience, even if you eventually move back to your hometown.

I understand that uncertainty in regards to a future career is frustrating. I found it so frustrating that I went straight into grad school after college. But I do not recommend doing that. I think being in college had sheltered me from seeing the huge variety of career paths out there that could very well start with "just" a B.A. I think fshgrl has said exactly what I would suggest: go out and get a survival job(s) and then start looking into what you really think you want to do. You might be surprised at what you find along the way.
posted by pril at 10:04 AM on November 24, 2012

I've also considered being a flight attendant because of the flexibility and travel, although I'm not 100% sure if that's something I want to do for my entire life.

You wouldn't have to do it for your entire life. In fact, whatever job or career you begin on graduating, you wouldn't have to do it for your entire life.

My friend graduated with a Journalism degree, worked in PR for a year or so, then worked as a flight attendant for several years before getting a job in marketing last year, where she's since been promoted. So if you think being a flight attendant 'now', sounds good, just do it and be comfortable with switching when you find a position you'd prefer to be doing. (Caveat: once you find that next position you want, switching might involve more study or a couple of junior jobs, but there's nothing wrong with that.)
posted by jacalata at 12:33 AM on November 25, 2012

If you're still reading, just wanted to chip in as a fellow gay geek to say that Nomyte is dead-on-the-money here and you should listen to him.

In terms of where to move post-graduation, I love all the places you mentioned but you might also want to think about the Cambridge/Somerville/Boston area, since it is both LGBT-friendly and nerd-positive.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:14 PM on December 22, 2012

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