Do What You Love, But Not That
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Do What You Love, But Not That

Become determined, inspired and courageous enough to do what you want.

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Do What You Love, But Not That

“So, what are you majoring in?” “Do you know what you want to study?” “What are you going to school for?” These questions get asked of all college students by everyone, everywhere. For some, the answer is easy and straightforward. They’ve wanted to be a doctor, nurse, police officer or veterinarian since they were in middle school. Others answer with business, law, pre-med or biology. They are all on their way to pursuing a desired career in a stable field. Life is settled for them, and that’s good. They have a plan, they are sticking to it, and they are excited.

But what about those who haven’t known what they wanted to do since they were 5 years old? Or what about those who have known, but are determined to stray away from their passions that won’t make them any money? For those people, the answer to the above questions is incredibly difficult, and the conversations that follow are almost always painful and awkward, leaving them more confused than ever.

When I have that conversation with people, my answer almost always goes like this:

“English.” And then after an uncomfortably long pause from the other person, I rush ahead and say, “But I am going to double minor in business and professional writing. You know, something practical and reasonable so I don’t end up unemployed.” I hate giving this answer, but in order to escape the conversation, I do it anyway. Their response is always the same: “Well, I’m sure you’ll switch your major eventually. That’s common.” And so I grit my teeth, smile and nod like nothing would make me happier.

These types of conversations defeat me because, three months ago, I intended to major in exercise science and pursue physical therapy, a "practical" degree that would ensure a job after graduation. I always planned on writing on the side for fun because that is what I truly enjoyed doing, but obviously I couldn’t make money doing that. Or so society had led me to believe. And each time I answered with physical therapy, people would nod and smile and move on because that was a smart choice. But as the end of my senior year approached, I realized that my plan would never lead me to feel fulfilled in my career.

And so, I made the dramatic switch from exercise science to English.

The problem with our society is that, from a young age, we are encouraged by everyone around us to do what makes us happy and are told over and over again that we can achieve anything. Our parents, siblings, teachers and friends convince us that, if we work hard and want something bad enough, we can accomplish our dreams. But when that really becomes important, when we begin to pursue something that we love, even if it’s risky, we are told to rethink it. We are told to be realistic, to be smarter, to think about the future.

I would argue that those of us who choose a path that is not necessarily stable or those of us who are unsure of what the future holds are not being foolish. I have a grasp on reality, and I understand that most English, art, theater and music majors end up going back to school, working in a different field or unemployed. But does that mean it will be that way for me? Does that mean that we, those who wish to be historians, singers, performers, writers and artists, should turn away from those passions and pursue something more “practical”?

Absolutely not. Just like the college freshman who longs to be a surgeon or a lawyer and was born with the desire for those things, those of us who were born with the passion to do something different should not be discouraged from choosing to follow those careers. I could graduate in four years and struggle to find work, end up going back to school, or be stuck at a job that I hate. But so could the lawyer, the doctor or the pharmacist. They could just as easily end up working in their field and realize that it isn’t as desirable as they hoped it would be.

I like to think that the future holds more for me and for our generation. We are born with passions for a reason, and if we can find a way to turn them into careers, happiness will come and great things will follow. I am convinced that there are many different ways to be miserable. Being poor and jobless could be miserable, and being rich and stuck in a job that you hate could be miserable, too. It all depends on attitude.

People should recognize that the way you respond to someone when they answer the question, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” can have a significant impact on their confidence and future decisions. Encourage your friends, family members and coworkers to pursue the risky career, take the challenging route and follow what makes them happy. Because if we are not doing what makes us happy, how on earth can we make others happy?

I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying there won’t be setbacks and struggles. But I am saying the same thing our parents told us when we were 5 years old: You can do anything you want as long as you try. Nothing will come of your education if effort and determination are not applied. But that is true of all majors and of anything in life.

So become determined, inspired and courageous enough to be and do what you want.

I am determined to gain enough confidence in my major that I can answer those difficult questions with the real answer. College students should pursue their risky passions so that, eventually, they are no longer considered risks. An art major is an art major. A music major is a music major. An English major is an English major. We are not soon-to-be failures filled with regret. We have futures, too.

A mentor of mine once told me, “Most people are just too scared to do what they want, so they will tell you that you can’t do something because they never had the courage.” I encourage college students who are unsure or scared to take a risk and do it because it can lead to wonderful opportunities and a fulfilling education. And if you are unsure, pray about it, learn what sparks your interest and follow it as hard as you can.

Three months ago, I didn’t acknowledge what I really wanted to be and I didn’t know what The Odyssey was. Today, I am excited for my future classes, I feel confident in the path I am taking, and I am writing my second article for The Odyssey.

And don’t worry, all of you readers who still think I am insane. I have an answer for your question, too. You say, “I can’t wait to see what she says about this when she is jobless and struggling in four years.”

My response to you: “Hey, I might be poor, but at least I can write one hell of an article about a day in the life of the unemployed.”

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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