"Tunji, have you had dinner?" Mum asked me. I had just eaten a plate of jollof rice and chicken, a Nigerian staple.
"Yes, mum. Thank you", I answered sluggishly.
She was reading a magazine at the corner of the living room on her favorite chair. She looked up at me over the top of her glasses and asked me to sit down which actually sounded more like an instruction. I moved over to the sofa next to the piano which was on the opposite side of the living room. She looked at me again and nodded towards the old leather couch beside her. I stood up from the sofa reluctantly and sat down at the couch.
She slowly adjusted the magazine in her hand and tucked it beside her, folded her hands, and leaned back heavily. "We need to talk Olatunji" she sighed and I immediately got worried. Whenever Mrs. Peters said "We need to talk", I knew what came next...I knew she was going to ask me about my future but I never liked to talk about it.
How did I know this? Because it happened like clockwork... every time.
"I told you to go through the list for Texas A&M," she mentioned. She gave me a list of math-related majors a few days ago but I couldn't bring myself to look at them. Let's be honest, I was good at math but I was not about to get a whole degree in it because I was not interested in pursuing it. Just because I was good at it did not mean I had to study it.
Therein lay the problem, I knew what I did not want but not what I wanted.
"Eh?" expressed mum. I snapped back to reality and said, "Ma, I...I will go through it." I paused. "I was occupied and I forgot. I'm sorry mom."
I lowered my head as a sign of remorse for a few seconds. She sighed again and gave me a s
tern look and then I quickly interjected, "I will go to my room right now and look at it and tell you what I choose," knowing fully well that I would hate all the options. I immediately turned around, hurried quickly up the stairs straight to my room desperately wanting to be get away from her sight. I closed the door, sat down for a few seconds on my bed to gather my thoughts.
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I had a few minutes to tell my mother...something, anything. I quickly stood up and went towards my reading table facing the window overlooking the city, sat down, and frantically started looking for the paper. It was in my top drawer laying there without any rumple like it was just gotten from the printer. I placed it on the table, grabbed a pencil, and followed the list from the top to the last line.
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After thirty minutes of deliberation, going back and forth, laying out the pros and cons, I decided to choose my major: Accounting.
Why, you ask? It just made the most sense.
I was good at calculations and keeping records and I did not want to be caught dead studying engineering or statistics. I might as well go bald; that was how much I hated those majors. It became a matter of choosing what would be the least unbearable.
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This whole situation may not make any sense because I could have easily chosen any major I 'wanted' right?
Wrong! Not in my father's house.
My parents were practical people and believed that I should choose majors that would increase my chances of being successful in the future and one that a job was almost secured after graduation if I performed exceptionally in school. It made sense, but what about passion? I laughed at myself because my situation was critically unfortunate. I did not have an inkling of what I wanted to do in college, not to talk of passion. I was still a senior in high school dealing with a lot as a teenager and this was something that never clicked.
Here I was with a few minutes to spare to choose a major for myself.
I finalized my decision and told my parents immediately.
5 YEARS LATER
I was in my senior year and at that time and I had a lot of stories to tell from my experience at Texas A&M. I was studying Accounting at the time and I could say that I did a great job in choosing that major. I was good at it and did averagely in all my classes but I couldn't relate to other students who were so enthusiastic to do more like meeting with firms and asking them for shadowing or internship opportunities. I felt like I did not want to dip my legs in water that did not belong to me. The major did not feel like my own because frankly, I did not enjoy it.
However, I could say that I learned a lot of things about myself. I became more confident and had more conversations with my parents about my college experience. I spoke to them twice about wanting to quit the major but they encouraged me to stay on track. I obeyed but it felt like I was doing their bidding and not mine. I also learned life-changing information about myself. I enjoyed public speaking. I loved whenever we were asked in our classes to present a speech or project to the class. I was always the first to volunteer to speak especially when other teammates would shy away from it. I even started a YouTube channel documenting my college experience because I just loved to talk. I also volunteered to be the Public Relations Officer at my organization and I always went to lecture halls and other organizations to speak on events coming up or fundraising programs.
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Would I say, I made the right choice? I don't know. The knowledge I got from college would always be useful but I may never use my degree. My parents, on the other hand, would be satisfied that they offered me the best opportunity as their only child. They did their best in that regard and guided me the way they knew how and I loved them for that.
However, would it have been better to just have waited after high school to figure some things out?
Tunji is just one example out of a lot of children who are pressured into continuing their education immediately after high school without really knowing what they want. No experience is lost but some experiences cost thousands of dollars and it may not be a bad idea to wait to figure out for sure what the child wants to do. Laziness is not the alternate solution here because the child will have to get involved in other activities to explore his/her interests.
Some people end up going to school and then are given freedom by their family to change their major as they go through self-discovery.
Some people end up never attending college to get a formal degree but still become useful in life, so what is the rush?
What do you think?