So Many Figs, So Little Time

My advice: there are so many big juicy figs to choose from, don’t be afraid to grab one or two, but be true to yourself, and know how much you can hold.

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath’s fig dilemma has haunted me throughout my college career. I feared missing opportunities and could not resist to grasp every offer that dangled before me. Because of this, after a summer spent waitressing at a breakfast café then bartending ‘til the wee hours of moonlight six days a week to fund my last semester’s tuition, I took on two internships totaling 30 hours a week.

I am Alissa Marinello, a writer with ever-flowing ideas, graduating in December 2019. I simultaneously interned at Public Relations agency PUNCH Media and Beasley Media Group’s 102.9 MGK for the John DeBella Show (which went on air at 6am so my in-time was 5:30). While also juggling 15 credits to complete my bachelor’s degree in advertising, consequently I renounced my position in the top 16% of my class because…my hands were full of figs.

Some may call me “driven,” “motivated,” “determined,” or whatever other thesaurus hits you’ll find. What I call myself, besides crazy, is “distracted.” Taking on so much responsibility in an internship environment where your goal is to submerge yourself in it, stand out and convince the company to buy you, took a toll on me. Having so many obligations turned me into a diner: so much to choose from, so many options, but no dish ever comes out of the kitchen really spectacular. Decent burger, decent pot pie, decent French dip, but when you go to a pierogi place, you’re going to get a damn good pierogi. I want to be that pierogi place.

I wrote great content at PUNCH, I learned all about PR, social media marketing, and the media. At MGK, I learned how to clip audio recordings and craft a podcast, and it was such a cool experience to be a part of radio production. Studying advertising grants you access to many career paths, many figs.

My advice: there are so many big juicy figs to choose from, don’t be afraid to grab one or two, but be true to yourself, and know how much you can hold.

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  1. Great post! This honestly is extremely relatable to my experiences while being an intern. For sure, I was not taking on quite as much work as you and I give you major props for getting so much accomplished in such a short amount of time.

    My experience as an intern was similar to yours, because I too had to bounce around to-and-from multiple worlds of responsibility — I did 14+ hours every week at my internship, 14+ hours every week at my restaurant job as a host, 15+ hours of school and the extra time to complete all of my assignments, all while simultaneously putting in 8+ weekly hours of training to run in the Philadelphia Marathon. I think that your advice to others about knowing, “how much you can hold,” are fantastic words of wisdom. Gaining experience and developing knowledge for your future career is important, but I think that it’s equally as important to make sure that you can be present with yourself and others while your here in college.

    I really agree that creating a hectic schedule for yourself to follow chaotically through an entire semester just kind of sets you up for strong waves of stress. I’m wondering, do you think it’s worth it to find that stress point of having too many figs, so that you can know your comfort zone better, or do you think it’s better to play it safe?

  2. Robert- Wow, that’s a good question. My answer: Never play it safe. My advice is to be honest with yourself and know your limits, it can be a difficult concept to grasp since it is not always a consistent feeling. At times you can feel highly motivated and inspired and believe they are ready to take on a big helping of responsibility. Other times, in the mist of it all, when you have a to-do list you keep adding to and your head seems to barely stay above water, be honest with yourself. Cut your hours, call out, honor the reality that in order to be great, focus is key. When you try to focus on too many things, it becomes blurred and you lose direction and intention. I say take on a challenge. Don’t play it safe, but don’t be afraid to throw the towel in and trust that another door will open when you are ready.

  3. Hi Alissa,

    Like Robert mentioned, I found your advice to be extremely relatable. This semester I am a junior. I am a double major in Advertising and Communications and Social Influence with a minor in Psychology. I am sure that you can tell just from my declared majors and minor, like you, I try to juggle a lot of figs. I am taking 18 credits this semester (you cannot imagine how many homework assignments, papers, and readings that entails), I have an internship that demands 10+ hours of my time, depending on the week, and I am a member of PRowl (a PR firm on campus) that controls 5+ hours of my time a week. Even though all these figs were juicy and focused around copywriting, I think I may have tried to eat more figs than I can consume.

    In the future, I think it might be best to focus on either PRowl or an internship as an extracurricular activity and really hone in on the tasks they might ask me to complete. I think that in my efforts to make myself more appealing to future employers, I lost sight of producing work that resembles excellent pierogies rather than mediocre dishes. With that being said, does honing in on a few figs make you feel as though you are giving up on other passions?

    Best,
    Maria Tsangarakis

    P.S. I loved everything about this post from the title to the use of the Syliva Plath quote to your super helpful advice! You truly are a gifted writer.