As anybody who has had to spend any amount of time in America knows, learning English isn’t a luxury there – it’s a necessity. And not just broken English either; if you truly wish to be taken seriously and escape ridicule, you have to know it better than the “real” (read: white) Americans.

That is why, even though English is not my mother tongue, it is the language I am more skilled in, as I spent 7 years forgetting the little Urdu I knew in order to cram as much Angreezi as I could into my tiny skull.

And thus, being an average child with limited potential for language, I am more familiar with English literature than with Urdu literature. Even then, I am falling behind in my reading: for example, I have yet to read many classics and have barely finished a book this month. But there are some phrases and events that are so integrated in online culture that everyone knows of them: Darth Vader is Luke’s father, Internet Explorer is an old people browser, Rick Rolling, that Sylvia Plath quote, and so on.

As the more interactive reader has probably figured out by now, it is the latter that I have recently been thinking about lately. Coming from a relatively well-off family, with the only “obstacles” in my way to “success” being my gender identity, physical limitations and mental illnesses, the thoughts of a white woman in college very much resemble my own.

But the particular case I am talking about is the branching that occurs in one’s career – the Fig Tree of Specialization. With an ever-increasing amount of jobs requiring niche knowledge, it is up to us, the tiny chicks just coming out of our eggs into this harsh world of professionalism, to decide which ship we will sail on (analogies are hard).

So if we have the proper guidance and understanding and luck, then maybe we will turn out to be hawks – the alpha predators of the sky, top of the food chain, whom all look up to. But if we choose wrong, we might end up the useless one-legged ducks – or worse, the fish (the Ship of Bad Analogies is the one I will go down in).

It’s just a lot of pressure on kids who are already struggling, is all I’m trying to say. Maybe if companies lightened up on their expectations and people toned down on their judging and social competition (“Oh, he only got 90%? My son got 95%.) then newbies could get a break, live a life with less stress.

But who am I kidding? The world is capitalist and capitalism is hell.


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